Amarillo or bust: Part one
International MBA class tours cattle country
Cattle buyers at the Amarillo Livestock Auction on Nov. 14 were in for a surprise when 25 international guests walked in and crowded along the back wall just after noon. The group was hard to miss — they talked excitedly, snapped sale ring selfies and took notes in leather padfolios.
But as quickly as they entered, they were gone again, back on the bus and off to their next stop.
The group was in the Texas Panhandle for the first half of a unique Certified Angus Beef® (CAB) brand experience. The International Masters of Brand Advantages program brought together center-of-the-plate specialists (that’s fancy talk for the folks who sell meat to foodservice and restaurants) representing 12 countries, and they began their quest to learn the pasture-to-plate story right there in the salebarn.
“This program is more than just teaching them about selling the Certified Angus Beef brand,” says Geof Bednar, our director of international. “If you look at our international partners, in many of these countries they are not self-sufficient at producing their own food. They’re very curious about where this food comes from, and they want to build trust in American beef production. That’s why we share the entire story of our industry.”
The first morning kicked off with some cattle industry 101 in a classroom setting, where they covered everything from basic genetics and management to marketing and lifecycle timelines. Then the participants boarded the bus to the auction market and followed by the feedyard.
Most had never been to a feedyard, and certainly not one as large as Friona Industries’ Randall County Feedyard, a 90,000-head yard on the outskirts of Amarillo. They heard from Jay Cortese, cattle procurement manager, and Jerrid Vincent, feedyard manager, as the bus drove around the operation.
They saw the feed mill (a busy place since the yard goes through 3.9 million pounds of feed every day), and several pens up-close. Many stood in line for a photo op with Jay or Jerrid, while others balanced on the edge of the bunks to get selfies with cattle in the background.
Though it was a lot to take in, there was one concept that immediately resonated with the class: The importance of occupancy. While cattle in the pens equals money for feeders, the same goes for guests at the table for the restaurateurs they sell to.
Join us again Friday to hear about the class’ trip to the Bradley 3 Ranch near Memphis, Texas.
Katrina Huffstutler is a freelance writer based in Electra, Texas. She’s a frequent contributor to the Black Ink team and lover of functional cattle and quality beef.