Cattleman's event covers animal ID, beef consumer issues, sire selection

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. -- Animal identification and traceability, a new generation of beef consumers, and selecting sires for grass-fed beef production will be among topics covered at the upcoming Cattleman's College Conference.

Sponsored by Penn State Extension, the day-long event will be held on March 9 at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Livestock Evaluation Center, Pennsylvania Furnace.

Attendees can learn a lot about the latest trends in the beef business, according to conference coordinator John Comerford, associate professor of animal science who is beef cattle program coordinator for Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Beef producers across the United States now are required to identify their animals with permanent identification to aid in animal traceability in the case of a disease outbreak," he said. "Dr. Craig Shultz, state veterinarian and head of the Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, will present information about how to comply with the regulations."

Beef producers are now serving a new generation of consumers between the ages of 13 and 32, Comerford noted, and they have surpassed baby boomers as the most numerous consumers in the country. This shift in consumers is affecting beef consumption.

"The new beef consumer has some different objectives from baby boomers in their selection of the food they buy," Comerford said. "Bridget Bingham, executive director of the Pennsylvania Beef Council, will discuss how their choices now include production methods, perceptions of animal welfare and the impact of animal agriculture on the environment."

Bingham will discuss the results of the Consumer Research Program conducted by the National Cattleman's Beef Association. That information is designed to help beef producers not only understand why people buy their product, but what they can do to enhance the quality and image of beef production.

Finally, Henry Rosenberger, a farmer from Montgomery County, and Roy Brubaker, a farmer from Mifflin County, will explain how they make sire-selection decisions for their grass-fed beef enterprises.

"The farmers will be part of a breakout session that will highlight the economic and meat-quality impact of sire selection in the fast-growing grass-fed beef enterprise," Comerford said.  

The conference, which will start at 8:30 a.m. with registration, will focus on the role of the beef producer in improving meat quality and consumer satisfaction, according to Comerford. Sessions will include industry updates, farmer presentations and technical seminars designed to inform beef producers how their management can contribute to added value for beef.

There is a $30 registration fee that includes lunch. For more information about the conference, visit the event Web page or contact Comerford at 814-863-3661 or at jxc16@psu.edu.

Last Updated February 21, 2013