Starting with an end in sight is key to our success

As I begin a new day at work each morning, a plan of what must be accomplished that day has been set before I set foot into the office. But how many of us start something with an end in sight?

Let’s take livestock as an example. Do we begin with an end in mind?

The equation for raising animals, or even crops for that matter, has several exponents. They include the health, performance potential, buyer convenience, and market economics.

Research from K-State shows that on average, buyers are willing to pay about $25 per head at certified health sales versus a regular sale. The weights and type of cattle were very similar during this study. This cost benefit showed up with polled calves and castrated male calves as well. Buyers paid an additional $3 per hundred weight and about $5 per hundred weight, respectively.

On performance potential, breed types do earn a competitive advantage. The strength today is the English-and-Continental crossbred animals in the beef industry.

Marbling is another strength indicator for buyers. The animal finishing in the “Choice” or upper one-third in “Select” is important.

Also, keep in mind that the buyer is willing to pay more for your steer calves than for heifers or young bull calves as feeders.

Regarding buyer convenience, more convenience translates into a higher price. If the producer or group of producers can put together a number of calves with very similar qualities, that producer or group will gain a marketing advantage.

Finally, with marketing economics, everyone bows to the macroeconomics that drives the cattle business. When corn-based feedlot breakevens increase, the price feedlots are willing to pay for feeders goes down. Producers also have the opportunity to pick the season in which they will market their cattle and the kind of cattle they will market.

Value-added can mean the little decisions each of us make day to day that improve our farm operations better. It doesn’t always mean getter a lot bigger or getting into the final retail-product items. However, it does not prevent us from pushing forward to reach this goal in the end either.

* * *

Who am I, anyway?

Since I will be writing a weekly column for the Hillsboro Free Press about agriculture issues, I thought I should introduce myself.

Having been an agriculture extension agent the past five years, I am conditioned to writing a weekly agriculture news column. I’ve recently been employed as an agriculture loan officer at Citizens State Bank in Hesston.

My wife, Sharon, and I live in Hesston and have a 4-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter.

I grew up on a small, diversified farm southeast of Peabody. I attended the University of Wyoming, where I received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education. In 1989, I went off to Colby High School to teach agriculture students between grades eight and 12.

I completed a master’s degree program in 1993 from Kansas State University, continuing with the agriculture education theme.

Then, in 1996, I made a career move into K-State Research and Extension. My goal was to be able to work with producers, from the individual to large groups. Somewhere along the line, a sincere passion developed within me to assist producers with educational programs and practical research based demonstrations in agriculture.

As a teacher at Colby and as the extension agent for Sedgwick County, I wrote a number of different grants to help students and producers solve “situation” problems or challenges in addition to the normal activities.

While working in Sedgwick County, I put together two grants. One grant for $725,000 funded a no-till program comparing fertility placement, crop rotations and economics with conventional tillage.

Then it was off to the next challenge of bringing a subsurface drip irrigation project to the area. After three years, and with the help of a $240,000 grant, the system was installed by the producer and I-with some trenching by a company in southwest Kansas.

It will be a pleasure to work with producers and keep agriculture in front of people in the rural communities of south-central Kansas.

Growing up and being around agriculture, I’ve enjoyed writing about events, ideas, and concerns that agriculture deals with every day. The way producers are effect by daily decisions also impacts our lives in town.

As fewer farmers produce our food and clothing, I feel someone should keep others informed on what it is farmers do for us.

If anyone has questions or comments about this column, I can be reached at 620-327-4941. My e-mail address is:

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