Kansas company manager earns CAB award
Ty Rumford runs the feeding company like it was his own. He’s been doing that for the business south of Scott City, Kan., since 1994, with the title of operations manager since 2000.
That was six years before the ownership and name change, but Rumford provides continuity.
For an unflinching focus on producing what consumers want over the years by working with the people who produce the cattle, High Choice Feeders received the Certified Angus Beef brand’s 2017 Feedyard Commitment to Excellence Award at the CAB annual conference in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 27-29. Today’s owners bought the 38,000-head, two-yard facility in 2006 from the Crist family, who started feeding on their farm in the 1950s. HCF President Bradley Scott, with his father Jim and partner John Hintzsche, go back to a century of cattle feeding near Chicago, Ill. Pandorf Land & Cattle, Callaway, Neb., raises a lot of corn on that land, with cows in the Sandhills and feeders in grow yards. Scott, who accepted the award alongside his manager, handles much of the risk management but leaves day-to-day operations in the capable hands of Rumford. In turn, he said it’s a team effort that owes much to veteran business manager Dorinda Jurgens as well. When cattle folks talk about “High Choice,” they could mean the top third of a USDA quality grade or “Ty’s feedyard,” that specializes in helping them hit premium beef targets. Rumford has many other dimensions of course, from his wife Julie and daughter Claire, a high school freshman this fall, to their son Chase, who often helps out at the yard but began work on his animal science degree at Kansas State University this fall. Family comes first, but customers say his accessibility and focus makes them feel a kinship. “He treats our cattle like they’re his,” said Magdalena, N.M., rancher Todd Saulsberry, whose family runs 600 Angus cows and up to 150 heifers on 92,000 acres in the state’s western highlands. We tried feeding there 15 years ago, but our cattle were barely 60 percent Choice and hardly any premiums,” Saulsberry says. “So we backed away and started buying better Angus bulls, just well-rounded at first but in the last 10 years we made sure to include carcass traits like higher marbling.” That’s a common theme among the 150 or more HCF customers in 30 states, Rumford says. From the brittle, high deserts to lush Appalachian pastures, ranch customers aim high. “This started 20 or 25 years ago, when grid sales first let people see what kind of cattle they had,” he said, noting the feedyard was a charter member of U.S. Premium Beef. “Once the cow-calf guys saw, they kept measuring and using the tools of genetic selection to improve.” Just after HCF came to be, widespread drought coincided with global recession and many ranchers had to cull older cows to keep the younger core and hope for better days. “The price of beef went up, but quality was going up, too, and we kept moving it,” Rumford said. “A lot of people thought beef would fall on its face, but we learned consumers want quality. Our feeding customers improved genetics and we improved feeding, too, because the consumer is our ultimate customer.” The ownership team relies on Rumford to run with opportunities in the premium niche market with natural, non-hormone-treated and Global Animal Partnership programs. All focus as much on high-quality Angus as their own protocols, he said. “CAB has done a good job,” Rumford said. Niches capture the imagination of young people on both the consumer and producer side, and he’s caught on to the rhythm. “It’s a whole other dimension of quality that lets the Angus genetics shine,” he said. “We have to fit cattle from two calving seasons into these 52-week supply programs, sometimes pulling them forward or holding them back. It takes superior genetics to do that and deliver the level of Primes we can get — 30 percent or 35 percent even.” As a custom feedyard, HCF will finish anyone’s healthy cattle, but market demand has exerted itself as anyone can see by driving the alleys. “It’s cleaned up a lot from just 10 years ago,” Rumford said. “You look at the yard now and it’s got a black tint to it, I mean predominantly black. Angus.” Saulsberry sold his last Charolais bulls when he decided to try feeding again after the calf market topped out in 2014. The last of those crossbreds earned no more than $40 in per-head premiums with less profit than the straight Angus, thanks to their $97 premium, he said. This year, his last pen of 53 percent CAB and Prime heifers made premiums of $140/head. “We’ve been happy with the results,” the young rancher said. Rumford especially enjoys working with the millennials. “It’s nice to see the younger guys get into feeding,” he said. “They’re well educated, sharp in business and know how to manage risk. They’re not just kids who decided to feed cattle, but they started with their dads and they know what they want to do. I like to see that.” Across the generations, those who choose High Choice Feeders quickly relate to Rumford and keep the relationships going and growing.
Nebraska farmer named pig farmer of the year
CHICAGO — The National Pork Board announced that Leslie McCuiston, a pig farmer from Columbus, Neb., has been named the 2017 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year, by achieving the highest combined score from a third-party judging panel and online voting. The award recognizes a pig farmer who excels at raising pigs using the We CareSM ethical principles and who connects with today’s consumers about how pork is produced. “We are pleased to have Leslie represent America’s pig farmers. She embodies the very best in pig farming,” said Terry O’Neel, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Friend, Neb. “It’s important that we share with today’s consumers how we raise their food in an ethical and transparent way. Leslie’s interest in sharing her farm’s story, as well as putting a face on today’s pig farming, will help us reach this goal.” Focusing on people is McCuiston’s main goal as a senior production manager for The Maschhoffs, LLC. McCuiston believes in equipping employees with the right tools to provide the best animal care every day. She oversees 70 employees who care for more than 18,000 sows in central Nebraska and surrounding states. “For me, pig farming isn’t just a job, it’s a career that I am passionate about,” McCuiston said. “I want to find new, innovative ways to show others what we do in pig farming, explain how much we care and help people understand where their food comes from.” McCuiston was named America’s Pig Farmer of the Year following a third-party audit of on-farm practices and after taking part in a series of written and oral interviews by subject-matter experts. She has achieved excellence in all aspects of pig farming, including animal care, environmental stewardship, employee work environment and outstanding community service. The panel of expert judges met in early September with the four finalists. Members of the five-member panel included Brittni Furrow, Walmart’s senior director of sustainability; Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane; Kari Underly, a third-generation Chicago butcher, author and principal of Range, Inc., a meat marketing and education firm; J. Scott Vernon, professor, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, Cal Poly; and Brad Greenway, the 2016 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year and chairman of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. “As an animal lover and the leader of the country’s first national humane organization, I am honored to be a judge for America’s Pig Farmer of the Year,” Ganzert said. “American Humane celebrates all those, including our nation’s farmers, who care for animals and work hard to ensure they are treated humanely. Today, more than ever, it is important not only to point out where progress is needed, but to recognize when we get it right.”
10 Colo., breeders who registered the most Angus announced
The 10 producers who registered the most Angus beef cattle in the state of Colorado recorded a total of 2,453 Angus with the American Angus Association during fiscal year 2017, which ended Sept. 30, according to Allen Moczygemba, association chief executive officer. The 10 top recorders in Colorado are: Jason D. Koberstein, Holyoke; Gale L. and Cynthia Haynes, Holyoke; Diamond Peak Cattle Co, Craig; Kavli Cattle Company, Wray; Spruce Mountain Ranch LLC, Larkspur; Roger McConnell, Fort Collins; Adrian Weaver, Fort Collins; George Jr. and Sarah Seidel, Livermore; Amen Angus Farms Inc, Iliff; Marshall Cattle Company, Burlington. Angus breeders across the nation in 2017 registered 332,421 head of Angus cattle. “Our growth this fiscal year continues to demonstrate strong demand for Angus genetics and solidifies our long-held position as a leader in the beef cattle industry,” Moczygemba said. “These results underscore our members’ commitment to providing genetic solutions to the beef cattle industry.”
Former Ag Secretary Mike Johanns joins Water for Food board
LINCOLN, Neb. — Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary and Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns has joined the board of directors of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska, bringing his 30 years of experience and expertise in agriculture, banking, commerce, foreign trade, law and governance. “We’re truly honored to welcome Mike Johanns to the Daugherty Institute’s Board of Directors. His vast experience, both in Nebraska and internationally, brings valuable connections and perspective to the work of the institute. And he shares our excitement about the University of Nebraska’s leadership potential in sustainably feeding the growing global population,” said NU President and DWFI Board Chair Hank Bounds. “When Mike agreed to join the board, I told him, ‘Let’s change the world.’ Thanks to our visionary advisers, talented faculty and staff, and partners around the world, we’re ready to do just that.” DWFI works globally, nationally and in Nebraska to find solutions that contribute to water and food security, leveraging the university’s expertise in agricultural research and water management and expanding it through strong local and international partnerships. Johanns will join a prestigious team of advisers on the board, including NU President Hank Bounds, Robert B. Daugherty Foundation Chair Mogens Bay, philanthropist and lecturer Howard W. Buffett and Chancellor of The City University of New York James B. Milliken. Together with more than 120 NU Faculty and Global Fellows, DWFI develops research and policy, enhances education and knowledge sharing, and advances technological innovations to improve the use and management of water in agriculture. “We are thrilled to have Sen. Johanns join our board,” said Peter G. McCornick, executive director of DWFI. “His deep expertise and insights in agriculture and development, and his experience in leading policy development and implementation from Nebraska, to the national and global levels, is especially well aligned with the mission of the institute. This will be invaluable as we re-double our efforts to achieving a water and food secure world.” Johanns grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa, and feels strongly connected to Nebraska and the institute’s global mission. “Since 2010, the institute has been a driving force in elevating Nebraska’s work in agricultural water management to the global stage,” Johanns said. “I look forward to working with DWFI’s leadership to build on this momentum — lending my perspective to help advance the institute’s ability to influence change, stimulate global policy dialogue on relevant issues and prepare future leaders to address the challenges ahead of us.” Johanns is recognized worldwide as a leader in agriculture and development, serving at virtually every level of government and successfully leading large and complex organizations over the past three decades. His bipartisan approach has earned the respect of colleagues and constituents across the political spectrum. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, Johanns served in the 111th-113th Congresses as a member of the following committees: Appropriations, Agriculture, Banking, Commerce, Environment & Public Works, Indian Affairs and Veterans’ Affairs. As secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2005 to 2007, Johanns directed 18 agencies employing 90,000 staff worldwide and managed a $93 billion budget. He opened or expanded access to 40 international markets and accomplished agricultural breakthroughs as a member of the U.S. negotiating team for the Doha Development Round. He conducted 32 international trips to advance trade, aid, food safety and as a representative of the President of the United States. Domestically, Johanns promoted the growth of the renewable fuels industry and advanced cooperative conservation. He guided the country through challenges relating to bird flu, BSE, TB and drought. An unprecedented achievement was the development of a complete farm bill proposal based on 50 nationwide listening sessions, half of which he personally hosted. His proposal became the foundation for improvements and reforms adopted in the 2008 farm bill. Johanns served as governor of Nebraska from 1999 to 2005, balancing a $2.6 billion state budget while providing property tax relief. He achieved historic reform of the state’s antiquated mental health system and championed improvements to the state’s child protection system. He expanded value-added agriculture and dramatically increased economic development efforts. Johanns led seven trade missions to eight countries as Governor. He served as the state representative on the Export-Import Bank Advisory Committee; as a member of the National Governors Association Executive Committee; as chair of the Governors’ Biotechnology Partnership and chair of the 25-state Governors’ Ethanol Coalition. Johanns’ public service began on the Lancaster County Board in Nebraska from 1983 to 1987, followed by the Lincoln City Council from 1989 to 1991. He was elected mayor of Lincoln in 1991 and reelected in 1995. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and holds a law degree from Creighton University in Omaha. He clerked for the Nebraska Supreme Court before practicing law in O’Neill and Lincoln, Neb. Johanns currently serves on the board of directors for Deere & Co. He also serves on the board of managers for Burlington Capital and OSI Group. In 2016, he was appointed by the president and senate-confirmed to serve a term on the Millennium Challenge Corporation board.❖
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The American Angus Association recently named Kelli Retallick-Riley president of Angus Genetics, Inc. With a lifetime of experience in the cattle business, Retallick-Riley will lead the company’s genetic evaluation technology and research programs.