Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference: Hitting the Target

Byron Leu, Beef Field Specialist, Southeast

Problem Statement: 

2008 was a year of challenge for beef producers throughout Iowa—forcing beef industry players to make tough decisions that have had significant economic influence on their operations and their local/regional communities.  Over the year, a broad-scope number of issues impacted beef-related operations—including record-setting weather events, flooding and natural storm disasters, dramatic increases in commodity/feed prices, volatile input costs, and a weakening world economy.

Programmatic Response: 

The Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference (CCCC) Steering Committee met to determine the topics to be discussed at the 2009 event.  Utilizing the 2008 CCCC Questionnaire Summary and a committee poll summary, the committee determined the discussion topics.  In February 2009, the CCCC responded to these selected topic areas—utilizing nationally recognized presenters to address current and future beef industry challenges and opportunities.  During the two-day event, nine presenters discussed 14 beef-related topics—presented in a total of 18 educational presentations.  Day One involved a John Deere Ottumwa Works program where attendees from southern Iowa and northern Missouri attended a keynote presentation by Dr. John Lawrence from the Iowa Beef Center.  Participants also had an opportunity to tour the John Deere forage manufacturing plant, attend a JD sponsored seminar, and view the CCCC exhibit area.  In Day Two, the educational program included a broad scope of topics with discussions on ethanol and corn co-product production, adding value to beef production, beef market outlook and trends, operation landscaping techniques, animal rights issues, and improving forage production. 

Outcome Statement:  

Short-term:  During the two-day event, over 800 producers, volunteers, and agribusiness representatives attended the CCCC event.  Day One hosted over 300 attendees from Iowa and northern Missouri.  Day Two had over 500 participants from 44 Iowa counties and 8 other states.  Plus, over 60 beef-related exhibits and displays were available to share and explore new technological options.  A four-station “Test Your Beef Knowledge” program was also initiated with numerous attendees testing their knowledge level……fun event.  Of the attendees who responded to our 2009 Questionnaire, 85% indicated that the CCCC provided knowledge of existing and future trends that will impact their operations.  Also, 68% felt that the Exhibit area provided insight into new and/or applicable technology or production systems.  39% responded that the event also provided an opportunity to network and meet new beef seedstock and industry contacts.


86% of the Questionnaire responders indicated they would make changes in their operations based on the information provided at the CCCC.  The response summary indicated that this effort would increase their operation’s productivity and profit potential.  The following are the percentage of the responding attendees that indicated the proposed changes would impact the following Questionnaire categories:

        Reduce labor                 32%

        Increase income potential:     

                0-$500                   39%

                $501-1,000           16%

                > $1,001                23%

        Increase animal performance by 10% or greater   61%

        Reduce feed input costs w/o decreasing performance      81%


Two long-term impacts that are reflected in the 2009 Questionnaire Summary include future networking and producers making the effort to reduce input costs to remain cost competitive in the future.  The Medium-term goal of reducing feed input cost while increasing animal performance will definitely lead to a “long-term” competitive stance.  As the marketplace continues to change, the importance of industry contacts definitely increases as future decisions are finalized.

The positive responses reported in the previous text reflect that the CCCC continues to have a significant influence on Iowa’s beef industry—as well as maintaining its strong reputation as the premier beef-relate conference in the Midwest.


140  Iowa Beef Center

Page last updated: April 6, 2009
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