Brunner aims to raise beef checkoff as KLA prez

Tracy Brunner

Tracy Brunner, a fourth generation partner in Cow Camp Beef at Ramona, is using his new position as president of the Kansas Livestock Association to help promote doubling the checkoff for beef promotion from $1 to $2 a head.

Brunner, who was one of the cattle producers assigned to research the increase for KLA and the National Cattlemen?s Beef Association, said inflation and the loss of buying power since the checkoff was created in the 1970s makes the increase essential to build demand for beef.

He said building that demand through high-quality beef production what Cow Camp is all about.

Tracy, with brothers Kent and Mark, are the latest generation of Brunners to run Cow Camp Beef as a family-owned business that includes ranching, cattle feeding and farming.

Tracy Brunner said he specializes in the feeding end of the operation while Lauren and Orvell specialize in seedstock production, raising and selling predominantly black bulls and heifers that started from Angus and Simmental stock.

The seedstock, sold through auctions or private treaty, can be purebred, registered or commercial stock, F1 (first-generation specific cross) or composite, he said.

Technologies used include artificial insemination, embryo transfer, ultra sound on all bulls, and carcass data, he said.

Brunner and wife Yvonne, originally an urban girl from Arizona, are partners in a bonded livestock dealer business that helps other producers with marketing issues.

They have two children: daughter Cat, 25, works for Spherion Human Resources in Wichita, and son Tanner is a sophomore at Centre High School.

Brunner also was a graduate of Centre, and has bachelor?s and master?s degrees in animal science and agribusiness from Kansas State University. He has served on the Centre school board and as a church officer.

He is past chair of the KLA Cow-Calf/Stocker Council, is on the NCBA executive committee. was on the beef board, was Kansas Beef Council chair, and is past chair of the NCBA New Product and Culinary Initiatives Committee.

Brunner said all of his experience, whether you?re talking domestic or international beef issues, shows the increased checkoff is necessary.

?It pays for research, market development, new product development and market research to show what consumers want the product to be,? he said. ?Some of its more outstanding successes in recent years include the flat iron steak and the petite shoulder tender.

?There?s a whole new generation of beef value cuts coming, but one that I think will be popular is the Denver cut. It also comes from the shoulder area.?

On issues of importance to KLA, such as reopening the Canadian border to cattle more than 30 months of age, Brunner said, ?Our association believes that international trade is a two-way street.

?We need outside markets more than outside producers need our market. We need to follow sound science guidelines, and show our trading partners the same respect we want from other nations.

?Canada has the same risk standard as U.S. beef, and should be treated the same.?

Brunner believes American producers will regain the Korean market in 2008.

?The U.S. Department of Agriculture has projected a doubling of shipments 2008 compared to 2007,? he said. ?I see that happening. And I see that as our processors become more familiar with Korean standards, we will get more product in there.?

Despite increases in demand, Brunner doesn?t foresee any appreciable increase in Kansas cattle numbers this year.

He said, ?Numbers in the U.S. have been static for a number of years. The drought in the Great Plains meant the liquidation of a lot of cattle herds.

?But the main thing that?s stopping people from expanding is increasing production costs that make it really hard to make money. Pasture and forage costs are up, grain prices are up, transportation costs are up, and all that squeezes the profit margin.

?I expect that will hold back expansion over the next several years.?

Brunner said he favors continued use of grain and roughages for ethanol production, ?but it?s tougher feeding $5 corn than it was $2 corn.?

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