At the Grill with William Torres: Ride for the brand

This month’s At The Grill feature by William Torres (former Research Manager at Cattleland Feedyards and popular presenter at Gentec conferences) focuses on how loyalty to a genetics brand can help producers get ahead thanks to buy-back programs.

Did you see the Yellowstone episode where Teeter (Jen Landon) questioned RIP Wheeler (Cole Hauser) and John Dutton (Kevin Costner) after being canned for fighting in the bunkhouse?

“So all that ‘this is my home forever is just talk’? F**king scarred for life, it don’t mean nothing? (As she shows her “Y” brand).”

What is loyalty? Do cowboys still ride for the brand? Are you loyal to a genetics brand?

Every producer I’ve ever talked to wants to do two things; survive in this industry and make a living at it. As times are changing, we are getting more and more pressure to do more with less, be sustainable, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, etc. And Lord knows, we must keep the country blacktops free of manure or the weekend cyclist will complain.

Many organizations out there (I won’t name any) claim to be fighting for you—but are YOU fighting for YOU? What are YOU doing to stay in the fight?

One of the many ways you can do all the above is by managing your genetic selection and genetic purchases. I surely hope none of us are still buying sires the way our grandpas did it. So much data are available in one single bull sale catalog nowadays that the only thing left to do would be to interview the bull to make sure he fits with your ranch culture and values. Oh… And make sure he has teeth.

If you’re scared to invest in your herd’s genetic benefit because you think it’s pricey, why don’t you align yourself with a great outfit that’s willing to stand behind its genetic brand?

Take, for instance, the Nelson Family Ranches in Stirling, AB. They put their money where their mouth is. They have a great buy-back program and purchase the calves you get from their sires. How much more can an outfit stand behind its brand!? The Nelson Family Ranches is “a sixth-generation family farm that values hard work, honesty, and bringing top quality, innovative products to you.”

I’ll give you another example. If you’re ever in Calgary and want to go for a great steak, visit Modern Steak. It is (to my knowledge) the only steak house that has partnered with local ranch Benchmark Angus from Warner, AB. to own their own bull. Now that’s what I call commitment and a continual supply of high-quality meat. Benchmark Angus is owned and operated by the Munton Family, a fourth-generation outfit that “has been pursuing Angus beef genetics for the proven tenderness and far superior taste that only premium Benchmark Angus cattle provide.” Their buy-back program from sired cattle supplies their own plant for everyday meat sales.

Bottom line is, focus on the genetics that will make a sustainable impact on your herd allowing YOU to not just survive, but make sure you leave a legacy behind for the next generations. There’s an old saying that goes something like, “If someone tells you who they are, listen. If someone shows you who they are, believe them”. A buy-back guarantee shows you who they are and that they stand behind their brand. These are just two examples.

For more information, contact John Basarab here at Gentec for help.



Putting innovation in producers’ hands

RDAR’s (Results-Driven Agriculture Research) mandate is to fund producer-led results-driven agriculture research, with a laser-like focus on projects that have an imminent benefit to Alberta’s agricultural sector.

“RDAR invests in ag research projects,” confirms Clinton Dobson, RDAR’s Research Director. “Within these projects, we want to see transdisciplinary teams working together in producer/public/private partnerships to accelerate the adoption of technologies and products on farms.”

RDAR’s mandate is guided by a five-year Strategic Framework  designed to anticipate and respond to emerging trends and market demands. This strategy provides the scope to react quickly to change and respond to emerging issues, for example, drought and heat stress, and to the growing use of technology and tools to drive production and profits on the smart, connected farm.

To target the dissemination of innovation, RDAR relies on Extension Services to ensure producers can hit the road running with new knowledge. To be sure that Extension is tailored to the needs of the 21st century producer, RDAR formed a cross-industry Extension Task Force. Following a comprehensive review of options, and completing surveys and consultations with stakeholders, the Task Force is expected to deliver its recommendations in summer 2022.

RDAR also supports extension in the field, demonstrating how new technologies and practices, when linked to ‘how to adopt’ information and training, enable producers to adopt innovation into their operations. At the most granular level, RDAR even brokers connections between researchers, producers and industry to power up the transformation.

The livestock sector is an area of emphasis for RDAR, as exemplified by the linkages between Gentec and RDAR: RDAR’s Board comprises former Gentec directors Dr. David Chalack and Dr. Fred Lozeman, current director Dr. Stan Blade and industry collaborator JP Brouwer. On RDAR’s research team is Gentec alumnus Dr. Brian Karisa.

“Genomics IS happening!” says Clinton, “Although RDAR is new (we came into existence in July 2020), we have invested in two significant projects with Gentec and the Canadian Beef Improvement Network (CBIN) to advance knowledge mobilization. Together, we can rapidly advance genetic literacy among beef producers so they can achieve the economic potential of genomics on their farm or ranch.”

RDAR’s investments include $1.4 million in Gentec projects (see here  and here  for examples) and $640,000 in CBIN . The standout factor for both organizations is that they can deliver transdisciplinary producer-public-private partnerships to overcome the challenges to the uptake of genomics in the beef sector. Gentec also works with CBIN to determine where Gentec can add value to CBIN’s strategic outcomes and put genetics-based breeding tools into the hands of producers.

“Investing in the collaboration between Gentec, CBIN, the beef breed associations and CBBC was a shoo-in for RDAR,” says Clinton. “It will build greater synergies, and increase the competitiveness and sustainability of producers. We’re confident about the broad adoption of beef-breeding genetics, and we can draw parallels to other sectors’ successes, for example, the dairy industry. Although adoption in beef lags behind dairy, that just means we have great opportunities to make big strides in driving genetic improvement on the ranch.”