Black Ink — it might sound like an odd name for a cattle production blog, but bear with us here. If you’ve heard some of the baby names that come out of Hollywood these days, you might think that a moniker doesn’t mean a whole lot, or have to make any sense. But out here in cattle country, we still put a bit of stock in a good name. So here’s the story:

Steve Suther started writing monthly columns under the title Black Ink back in July 1999, and the column has run continuously since then. As a Kansas cattleman and writer, Steve began the column when he joined the Certified Angus Beef  team. He had just transitioned from a 20-year career in the beef publishing world and a job as editor of the nation’s largest circ beef magazine at the time (Beef Today) to writing for CAB, so he had a few ideas to share. The column features information on every aspect of beef production, from long-term planning to calf health programs to the day-to-day struggles and joys of being a rancher. Improving beef quality has always been a key theme in his writing, and the content is created to be breed and beef-brand neutral.

In fact, the color reference in the title isn’t meant to associate with the black hides required for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, the company that still calls Steve the director of its industry information team. Instead, the column’s message focuses on production and management ideas that can add black ink to a ranch’s ledger lines (you know, as opposed to the negative, red numbers), regardless of breed, color, ranch size or history.

Today, the Black Ink column continues to be published in more than 50 papers across the U.S. and on a few websites. Steve took his Black Ink conversation to an open forum in 2001, naming the Black-Ink e-mail discussion list after his popular column.  In 2003, the name Black Ink continued its move toward franchise status when a company-sponsored educational seminar was called “Black Ink Basics.”  Seminars by that name were held from South Dakota to Texas in the mid-2000s, and a series of technical reports debuted in 2005 called Black Ink Basics Tech Reports. The name was trademarked ® in 2009.

In 2006, Minnesota farm girl Miranda Reiman joined the CAB team and brought her perspective to the column. She and Steve now swap monthly bylines on the articles. A few years later, the team expanded with “new” media and brought the Black Ink name to this blog. Today, Laura Conaway adds her contributions, drawing on deep roots in the Florida cattle business.

It’s a continuation of the cattle-based conversation Steve started more than 15 years ago, and one our staff will keep sharing. As we gather information from your cattle industry peers while working for the world’s largest branded beef company, we’ll keep making it relevant to your cattle business plan. That’s a promise we’d sign… in black ink, of course.