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Facing the Future
Tom Field, Colorado State University

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At Tuesday evening’s banquet, American Angus Association Executive Vice President John Crouch introduced speaker Tom Field with a question: “Wouldn’t it be great if we could predict those opportunities and challenges that lie before us?”

Tom Field
Only one segment of the beef industry — the seedstock sector — is expendable, said CSU animal scientist Tom Field. Field offered tips for how seedstock suppliers could stay relevant to the industry.
Field, a Colorado State University professor of animal science, spoke about what challenges and changes lay ahead for the Angus and beef industries. He began by providing three rules for dealing with the future: Don’t let success get in the way of opportunity; deliver unique attributes by combining innovation with core values; and get out of your comfort zone.

The challenges Field described included increasing global competition, in the form of unrealized rivals (such as China), and the “burden of accumulated aggravation” (see “Outside the Box” on page 191 of the March 2005 Angus Journal) faced by customers.

In the future, he said, the role of the seedstock sector will have to evolve into that of a servant to the industry, focusing on the needs of the commercial customer. To do so, he recommended that producers castrate 10% more bulls this year than the previous year and feed the steers to obtain carcass data. Feedyards and packing plants, Field noted, know more about a producer’s genetics and the performance of his customers’ cattle than he does.

Field explained that the status quo will not accomplish what is needed to survive into the future. “We must innovate, invest and engage, or fade into the sunset,” he said. “We need to think about how we move and change ourselves.”

Especially crucial for the Angus industry, he said, is that brands will have to evolve to maintain their position in the future. Instead of focusing on simply fulfilling needs, Field emphasized the need to create awesome experiences and to make dreams come true. To do that, he noted, products will be less important than the stories behind them, because products can be replicated.” (See “Outside the Box” on page 232 of the October 2005 Angus Journal.)

“It’s going to be more than just the bull; it’s going to be the story behind the bull, the story behind the genetic program, the story behind you,” he said.

In closing, Field affirmed that producers can make a difference in forming their future. “I don’t believe the future is an accident,” he said. “I believe it happens through intent.”

— by Brooke Byrd, assistant editor, Angus Productions Inc.
© Copyright 2005 Angus Productions Inc.

Editor’s Note: This article was written under contract or by staff of Angus Productions Inc. (API), which claims copyright to this article. It may not be published or distributed without the express permission of Angus Productions Inc. To request reprint permission and guidelines, contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at (816) 383-5270 or shermel@angusjournal.com.

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