Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hiring & Retaining an Exceptional Workforce

Determination, leadership, and passion … these are only a few of the numerous traits that keep companies thriving. And most cattlemen exhibit those qualities everyday. But what about your employees?

Bob Milligan, Ph.D. of Agriculture Economics, is an expert on the best ways to hire and motivate farm employees. Milligan’s main question for all small business owners and managers is: how can you instill self-motivation in your employees? “The only real motivation is self motivation,” states Milligan. So, how can you, as a leader, create a positive work environment that will result in self motivation?

Fortunately for these tough economic times, increasing employee motivation doesn’t have to cost a lot. “The beauty of leadership is that, yes, it does take time, but it doesn’t cost money,” states Milligan. Milligan will share more about instilling self-motivation and being an effective leader during his presentation at the Northwest Iowa BeefMeet in Spencer on June 22.

Milligan will also cover hiring practices. How can you select the correct, dependable employees that will carry out the vision you have for your company? How can you build a staff that will not only survive, but also make a difference in tough economic times? It is worth the extra time to find the correct employee and not force a round peg in a square hole considering a “mis-hire” can cost up to double the amount of an employee’s salary.

Milligan will answer these important questions and more, sharing how to hire and retain exceptional employees while enhancing operational performance and profit margins.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

BeefMeets Bring New Policy Development Process

ICA is a grassroots policy organization, meaning policy is developed by members for members. Policy, through written directives or resolutions, provides input to staff and leadership when working on regulatory topics. A new schedule has been prepared for the 2016 year that incorporates several new events (BeefMeets and Committee Day) and the ICA Annual Meeting. The new schedule supports an effort to gather more grassroots input from more ICA members. Similar to past years, policy review will begin in June and culminate in December at the Annual Meeting.

BeefMeet District Breakouts

During the 2016 BeefMeets all 20 ICA districts will have a chance to gather to discuss membership objectives, and surface policy issues and topics through District Breakouts.  Members will gather into their ICA districts with a goal to informally surface policy issues from members (similar to the successful ICA Listening Sessions).  Through the District Breakout discussion a list of topics/issues will be recorded and sent to the policy committee chairs and production councils for drafting and consideration. All input is welcome, including drafted policies.

Members will also be able to provide input on ICA’s membership structure, recruitment timeline, member incentives, etc. In an effort to gather information for the membership committee meetings scheduled throughout the summer, the District Breakouts will gather input before the new recruitment year.

If you have not already registered for BeefMeets, click here to sign up.

Below is a list of the respective breakout sessions scheduled during the 2016 BeefMeets. If a member attends a BeefMeet that does not represent their district that is OK. They can join the District Breakout/County that is closest to their farming operation or visit the tradeshow.

Northwest: District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, District 7
Northeast: District 5, District 6, District 9, District 10, District 11
Southwest: District 8, District 12, District 13, District 17, District 18
Southeast: District 14, District 15, District 16, District 19, District 20

Call meeting to Order / Staff and Leader introductions / Adopt agenda
Review of 2016 membership year
Grassroots policy discussion
Other topics (ICA communications, programming, etc)

ICA Committee Day - Tuesday, July 5

A meeting will be held in July to review input from the District Breakouts held at the 2016 BeefMeets. ICA board members, policy committee chairs and vice chairs, and members of the feedlot and cow/calf councils will be invited to attend committee day.

The ICA Cow/calf and Feedlot councils will focus first on evaluating results from the BeefMeets and prioritizing the topics. If needed, Cow/calf and Feedlot Council members will provide additional input on the issues surfaced, or make recommendations for further analysis.

Later in the day each ICA policy committee will meet to: draft/revise policies, review expiring policies, and propose recommendations to the ICA board. Using the prioritized lists from both the Cow/calf and Feedlot council meetings held earlier in the day, committee chairs and vice chairs will either draft new ICA policy, or make revisions to existing policies.

If pertinent issues require immediate action from the ICA board, the policy chairs will make a recommendation to the board to adopt interim policy. This would include topics that require action prior to the Annual Meeting in December, or the NCBA Summer Conference held later in July. All other recommendations will be reviewed during the Annual Meeting in December.

ICA Annual Meeting & Leadership Summit - Saturday, December 10

All of the policy committees will meet during the Annual Meeting as in the past. The committee meetings will be scheduled throughout the day and all ICA members are invited to participate in the discussion. Through a progressive process, expiring policies are defined, researched, refined, and if applicable re-instated in the individual committees.

Once the committees have reviewed all the expiring and proposed policies, the recommendations will be reviewed in the resolutions committee which consists of the policy chairs, the executive committee, and ICA staff. Recommendations are either approved or denied at the ICA annual meeting by members, making the process come full circle.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Gaining Confidence in Feeder Cattle Prices

As we all know, the cattle markets have been extremely volatile lately. There are several factors that play a key role in keeping our cattle industry markets representative. One of those factors is the Feeder Cattle Index and unfortunately, it is overlooked all too often.

The Feeder Cattle Index is a system that utilizes the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service (USDA-AMS) Feeder Cattle Reports to create an index that provides investors with a reliable and publicly available benchmark for investment performance in the feeder cattle market.

The reliability of the Feeder Cattle Index depends on voluntary price reporting from feeder cattle sales. However, more feeder cattle prices are reported in the south than in the north. This issue causes farmers in the north to have an inaccurate price portrayal of what they are producing on their farms. Here in Iowa, a large percentage of our cow-calf operations are suffering from these misrepresentations, and may not be getting a fair price for the feeder cattle they are selling. Additionally feedlot operators lot projections are not truly accurate.

 “Our goal is to try to have a feeder cattle index price that more accurately represents what feeder cattle are worth in the North, so that it’s not weighted so heavily for the South,”stated Brad Kooima, a cattle producer and commodities broker from Sioux Center. Kooima stresses that voluntary feeder cattle price reporting will help both cow-calf producers as well as feedlot producers, and may lead to a more reliable feeder cattle futures market, as well.

In an effort to educate cattle producers on the importance and logistics of voluntary feeder cattle price reporting, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has invited USDA representatives to the Northwest Regional BeefMeet in Spencer on June 22, the Northeast Regional BeefMeet in Independence on June 23 and the Southwest Regional BeefMeet in Atlantic on June 28. ICA will also be publishing a feeder cattle index fact sheet in the coming weeks.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Feeding Cattle Under Roof: What have we learned?

Over the past few years, new cattle buildings have been going up at an astonishing rate. Monoslope, gable roofed, and hoop structures are becoming more prevalent around the Iowa countryside, as the trend of feeding cattle under roof continues to grow.

As the cattle and feed markets continue to fluctuate and find new price points, producers yearn for the ability to grasp as much control of their cattle feeding operation as possible. Feeding cattle under roof gives producers some of that control.  The ability to control the effects of Mother Nature on a cattle operation can increase cattle comfort, manure composition, as well as the producer’s bottom line.
When cattle are fed outside on open dirt or grass lots, several factors can leech profitability from the farming operation, including decreased feed efficiency, health problems due to extreme weather conditions, and the loss of a vital farm resource; manure.

The benefits to feeding under roof are numerous, but one of the most impressive the increase in feed efficiency. How much is that efficiency worth? Jeff Pastoor, who works in Beef Business Development for Quality Liquid Feeds, says that the increase in efficiency literally pays off. “When we feed cattle under roof (in barns) we know we improve feed efficiency, and we know it improves enough to help pay for the building.”

Jeff Pastoor
Pastoor, who will present along with Scott Roskens at ICA's regional BeefMeets this summer, was quick to point out the other benefits of cattle barns, as well. “Inside the cattle barn, you’re able to keep the manure out of the rain, reducing run off. You’re also going to improve your manure quality and increase the amount of manure that can be used as fertilizer.”

Scott Roskens
During their BeefMeets presentations, Pastoor and Roskens will go into detail sharing how to manage cattle under roof in order to get the most from the investment.  They’ll cover pit additives and bedding requirements, as well as cattle health and animal welfare considerations. The experienced producer will pick up tips to maximize profits, while producers considering expanding can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of feeding under roof.

Feeding Cattle Under Roof will be presented at the Northwest Regional BeefMeet in Spencer on June 22 and the Northeast Regional BeefMeet in Independence on June 23. Register today to hear these educational sessions and more.