Kansas State University Ranching Summit provides future insight

More than 150 producers, students and industry professionals recently gathered in Manhattan for the 2018 K-State Ranching Summit. Designed to equip managers with the skills to address the challenges of ranching in the business climate of today and tomorrow, the theme of this year’s program was Beef 2030­—Pursuing technology, transparency and profitability.

“It was a great conference,” said Vernon Suhn, GeneTrust managing partner, Eureka, Kansas. “The conference again reinforced to me that the beef industry is not keeping pace with other industries in utilizing the technology available to us. We need to take advantage of the tools and resources available in all aspects of genetics, production and innovation to make progress and thus keep the beef industry competitive as a food and protein source for the world.”

Mark Gardiner, Gardiner Angus Ranch, Ashland, Kansas, kicked off the morning session with a discussion on pursuing, adopting and leveraging technology in a seedstock operation. Issues covered included maintaining profitability through weather, market and the ongoing challenges for beef producers. Tyson Johnson with Sooner Cattle Co., Pawhuska, Oklahoma, reviewed key managerial accounting numbers for ranch managers. Don Close, Rabo AgriFinance, St. Louis, Missouri, addressed their research in beef and protein market consumer trends and what potential impact these trends will have on beef producers. Matt Perrier, Dalebanks Angus, Eureka, Kansas, ended the morning program with his response to the morning session followed by questions and answers.

“Turn data into information, and information into decision-making tools,” Perrier remarked. He added that transparency has value, and consumers want that transparency with their steak. “This is business; it is more than just cattle, or profits or loss. It is a people business.”

Tom Field, director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska, started off the afternoon session covering disruptive technologies in the beef industry. K-State ASI faculty Megan Rolf, discussed the potential for the disruptive genomics/genetics technologies. K-State ASI extension faculty Luis Mendonca, provided an overview of the power of big data he’s captured through the collaborative benchmarking system he’s helped develop called DRINK. John Butler, Innovative Livestock Services, Great Bend, Kansas, then shared his vision of the Beef Industry in 2030. The event closed out with Dale Blasi, Kansas State University extension specialist, Manhattan, Kansas, sharing his response to the afternoon program followed by questions and answers.

“The KSU Ranching Summit was a great blend of producer-driven information and upcoming university research,” said Barrett Simon, a summit attendee and Post Rock District livestock agent. “At the end of the day, it’s all about boosting profits in the beef business, without a secure bottom line, producers cannot build a sustainable program. We heard from industry leading producers on how to capture value as well as monitor inputs to boost profit. Personally, I felt that the discussion between the speakers and producers in the question and answer segment will greatly lend to progression of the beef industry in Kansas.”

Videos of the presentations and PDF proceedings are available on the KSUBeef.org website and the KSU Beef YouTube Channel—http://bit.ly/KSURanchingSummit.