Posted October 19, 2023
DENVER — Price discovery in the feeder cattle market rarely includes genetic information. Almost nothing is known about the genetics of 98% of feeder cattle being sold on a weekly basis. That is unfortunate and it holds the industry back, because genetics control approximately one-third of growth, efficiency and carcass results.
Enter the Genetic Merit Pricing Task Force, a coalition of 32 producers from all industry segments assembled to help the industry accelerate toward widespread use of genetic information in pricing feeder cattle. Ken Odde, Ph.D., former Kansas State University animal science department head and group facilitator, believes the Genetic Merit Pricing Task Force has a critical mission that can help make all industry segments more efficient and prosperous.
“If you look at crops, pork, poultry, dairy and virtually all other agricultural products, genetics are heavily emphasized,” Odde explained. “Yet in the beef industry, we trade millions of feeder cattle and calves annually, while knowing next to nothing about their genetics. Without objective genetic information on potential growth rate, feed efficiency, marbling and other key traits, we cannot accurately project how a given group of cattle will perform or how valuable their carcasses will be. That lack of genetic information creates a big hole in our ability to price cattle according to their true value.”
Task force members represent some of the nation's brightest and most experienced cattle producers, marketers, backgrounders and feeders the industry has to offer. (See Appendix 1 for a complete list.) Their charge is to help bring objective genetic information into the price discovery process for feeder cattle and calves, which ultimately means more sellers offering this type of information to prospective buyers, and then buyers effectively using this information as they bid on and buy cattle.
The GMP Task Force also has a large and growing list of supporting industry organizations. (See Appendix 2.)
“We are pleased with the broad-based industry support we have received thus far,” Odde said. “We are in conversation with many other key cattle organizations at the current time. Look for our list of supporters to grow significantly in the months ahead. Once people understand the importance of genetic information becoming actively used in the feeder cattle and calf markets, they quickly recognize it is the right direction for improving the beef business.”
The GMP Task Force will hold its first face-to-face meeting Nov. 2 in Denver. Quarterly in-person meetings will continue for approximately 15 to 18 months, with additional virtual meetings held as needed to supplement the group’s discussions and work.
“When you consider the success objective genetic information brought to our seedstock market over the past several decades, you get some idea what could happen in the feeder cattle market,” said Tom Brink, Red Angus Association of America CEO and one of the GMP Task Force founders. “Industry-wide genetic improvement will progress more rapidly when genetic information is part of the price discovery process, and that benefits everyone from ranch to consumer.”
Appendix 1: Task Force Participants
Appendix 2: Task Force Supporting Organizations
Other On-Record Supporters