Eastern Iowa cattle producers who are members of the Young Cattlemen project know more about beef production practices, set goals to improve their beef operation, and connect with other young producers, according to a member survey. Because of the skills they are learning and the networks they are creating as members, they also are making watershed quality improvements, looking at the big picture when making decisions and creating stronger marketing plans.
The Young Cattlemen’s Project was created, with leadership from Denise Schwab, ISU Extension beef specialist, as a way to meet the challenge of keeping young producers involved in the cattle industry. With a strong focus on profitability, many young producers were hesitant to stay with cattle production.
Young Cattlemen are organized in two groups — the west group serves Tama, Poweshiek, Benton and Iowa counties; the east group includes producers in Clinton, Jackson and Jones counties. Schwab customizes educational programs and discussions to meet the needs of the cattlemen in their 20s and 30s; needs identified by each group during a standard needs assessment process.
Young Cattlemen meetings include more than the presentations and discussions facilitated by ISU Extension field and campus staff. Area “seasoned” cattlemen participate in the meetings to provide a local support system. As one participant noted, this type of support system is one of the most significant benefits of participating in the program: “I really enjoy hearing from others and seeing what worked for them and how their knowledge can help my operation.”
I would definitely recommend this to others, the more we can expand the knowledge on rotational grazing, and just new technologies in farming, the better we’re all going to be.
- Shawn Ritter, Benton County participant
Recognizing that participants in the program are the future of the beef industry, Schwab incorporates strategies for developing stronger management practices, leadership skills and goal setting into the meetings. Since 2007, 73 young producers have participated in one or more of the project sessions.
Members are taking on leadership positions by serving on county Cattlemen boards; developing a business attitude and business plans; and are evaluating options and becoming critical decision makers. When asked what changes they have made, one producer said he has made a lot of small ones, but one big change is that he now steps back and looks at the whole picture to make sure that the decision he is about to make is the right one for the long term.
For more information about the Young Cattlemen Project and other livestock programs contact:
Denise Schwab, ISU Extension beef program specialist, 319-472-4739, firstname.lastname@example.org