From pen riding to working in the mill or driving a feed truck, there is little Luis Garcia hasn’t done at Kirkland Feedyard. A jack of all trades, Garcia’s days can differ. But one thing is steady: his first responsibility is to manage the feed bunks. It’s a crucial job he takes great pride in.
“My job is to look at the bunks every day before the feed trucks go to the bunk and see what I need to do to adjust the feed,” Garcia says. “I want to know for sure these cattle have enough feed in the bunks.”
If feed is left in the bunks, Garcia makes sure it is cleaned so no mold accumulates.
Garcia’s love for cattle care stems from his upbringing on his family’s farm and ranch. He has worked at the feedyard since 1983 and understands that successful cattle feeding begins with proper cattle care.
“We want to be sure cattle are fed right,” he says.
Managing feed bunks, or calling feed, is essential to an efficient feedyard. The process ensures cattle are delivered the right quantity and quality of feed every day to minimize variation. A successful bunk manager must be observant, responsive and above all else, understand the cattle in their care. Garcia fits the description to a tee.
“I love the animals. I like to take care of them, like myself,” he says. “I do my best to do anything for the cattle and for the company, too.”
Yesterday the House released details of a $1.4 trillion FY21 omnibus and $900 billion COVID-relief package. It is TCFA's understanding that both chambers intend to clear the stimulus bill, which will be paired with the year-end spending measure, by midnight when the latest CR is set to expire.
Below are some high-level details on key provisions of relevance to cattle producers. Full text of the COVID agreement can be found here, and a summary of all agriculture provisions can be found here. Several of the provisions listed below have been priorities for NCBA since the start of the pandemic and were ultimately included as a direct result of our advocacy efforts on capitol hill.
Includes $11 billion for USDA’s Office of the Secretary to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus by providing support to agricultural producers, growers and processors. From this amount, the Secretary:
CFAP for Cattle Producers – As mentioned above, the bill provides additional assistance for cattle producers impacted during the height of the pandemic. The mathematical formula for determining the cattle payment is as follows:
Slaughter/Fed cattle, Feeder cattle +600, Feeder cattle -600:
Slaughter/Mature cattle and All Other Cattle:
To ensure assistance more closely aligns with actual losses, USDA is required to make supplemental CFAP 1 and CFAP 2 payments, subject to available funds, not to exceed 80% of losses, notwithstanding payment limits, and broadening agriculture income for AGI purposes to include agricultural sales, including gains, agricultural services, sale of agricultural real estate and prior year net operating loss carry forward.
Grants for Improvements to Meat and Poultry Facilities to Allow for Interstate Shipment – The bill provides $60 million to make facility upgrade and planning grants to existing meat and poultry processors to help them move to federal inspection and be able to sell their products across state lines. The bill also requires USDA to work with states and report on ways to improve the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipment program. This is a modified version of the RAMP UP Act, spearheaded by NCBA earlier this Congress.
Meat and Poultry Processing Study and Report – The bill requires a report on the availability of financing for new and existing meat and poultry processing capacity.
PPP Tax Deductibility – The bill specifies that forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans will not be included in taxable income. Additionally it clarifies that deductions are allowed for expenses paid with proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan, effective as of the date of enactment of the CARES Act and applicable to subsequent PPP loans. The bill also includes $284 billion in a second round of PPP loans and simplifies the forgiveness process for loans under $150,000.
Statutory Dealer Trust – The bill establishes a Federal livestock dealer trust, similar to the Packer Trust. Note, this provision is identical to the Securing All Livestock Equitably (SALE) Act of 2020.
FY 21 Omnibus:
Please note that we are reviewing the 5,593 package but believe the above covers the bulk of relevant cattle industry provisions. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or additional information.
Scott Anderson, the 2021 TCFA Chairman, has always been up for a challenge. In 1989, when Anderson was invited to take part in management of CRI Feeders in Guymon, Okla., the company was running, but needed a lot of work.
“We were trying to rebuild the place and do all kinds of things,” he said. “We would spend some 15-, 16-hour days, be totally worn out, but ready to come back the next day and work through the challenges.”
The challenges were difficult but rewarding. Today, CRI Feeders is a successful performance-oriented, customer-cattle focused feedyard. The goal is to provide an unmatched level of care and service for their customer’s livestock and do so by respecting customers and employees with integrity.
Anderson’s love for the industry is attributed, not only to the challenges it poses, but also to the people who work alongside him, both inside and outside the feedyard.
“The people are one of the best things about this industry,” he said. “There’s a cooperativeness that parallels the competitiveness between different feedyards. That is fun and challenging.”
Anderson grew up in Blair, Neb. His family owned a diversified livestock and grain farm. He showed his first bred heifer in 1973 through his county 4-H program and continued to show both cattle and pigs every year until graduation.
“The sows graduated from the farm at the same time I did,” he laughed.
Anderson later attended the University of Nebraska where he earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s in ruminant nutrition. In the summer of 1986, he left Nebraska and moved to Kansas to work at the K-State research feedlot. After a year as a sales nutritionist, he was offered the job of assistant manager at CRI.
Ten years later, Anderson left the yard to work for a technology company that focused on feedyard cattle, but it wasn’t long before another Guymon area feedyard approached him to take over the manager job. In 2004, CRI wanted Anderson back, and he has been there ever since. The industry has evolved since then and will certainly evolve again, a challenge that is not lost on Anderson.
“At one time we thought we were a mature industry, but it just continues to evolve,” he said. “For instance, we looked back at old showlists from the late 80s and early 90s. Back then we’d trade cattle two or three times during the week, and there would be a $2 to $4-$5 range in what those cattle brought. Each week all the packers came out and it was competitive. However, the emphasis then was to get them good enough to sell and roll them as we quick as we could.”
By the end of the 90s, that had shifted, he noted, but there were reasons for that. Early on the industry focused on domestic demand and a shift to higher-quality, griddable cattle followed.
“Today, it is a global market and we must look at so many factors, like how the U.S. dollar is trading and what is happening around the world,” he said. “It’s a completely different ballgame.”
According to Anderson, continuing to perfect how to market cattle is one of the industry’s biggest challenges, but he is confident there will be solutions, and that optimism is necessary considering the many challenges the industry must tackle. NCBA’s negotiated trade working group, on which TCFA’s Chairman-Elect Kevin Buse serves, is developing a plan to address the appropriate level of negotiated trade to achieve price discovery. “We must and will find an industry-led solution so Congress and USDA don’t eliminate a feeder’s choice on marketing cattle,” he said.
“Today, the beef industry is facing several issues that impact our future, and quite frankly, the sustainability of our collective business,” he said.
“As producers, we are proud of our independent nature. That liberty has allowed us to explore and innovate new ways of adapting our production practices to fit the wide range of resources available in our specific geographical regions,” he said.
“And because of this, the U.S. beef production system is the envy of the world in terms of efficient production and consistent, high-quality, wholesome beef. This freedom has created a wide array of successful business models across the regions.”
But, as Anderson noted, the industry still produces and markets the majority of product as a commodity, and those channels are very subject to the influences of supply and demand and the inherent volatility of the free market.
“We have weathered market-moving events many times in our history,” he said. “Those events are usually short lived, and the market adjusts. But during the last 12 months, we have experienced two major mark-moving events within a compact time frame that have compounded losses.”
While the Holcomb fire in August 2019 had a somewhat predictable path to resolution, COVID-19 is unlike anything the industry has seen before.
“Consequently, volatility continues to complicate the market’s ability to correct itself,” he said.
Adding to those challenges is marketing to a consumer that is not familiar in any way with how beef is produced. Those consumers ask good questions about production practices based on what they read or hear. Sometimes that raises doubts in their mind about beef production.
“Supporting and growing our domestic demand hinges on how well we communicate with our customers and answer their questions,” he said. “We also must answer questions for our global customers.”
Exports add an additional $350 of value per head. Maintaining current export markets and related carcass value is a priority, and also presents opportunity for growth.
“Our sustainability as an industry relies on our ability to maintain, and grow, both domestic and export demand,” he said.
Another key element to keep the industry successful well into the future is access to motivated, qualified employees.
“Attracting talented people into our industry has never been more important,” Anderson said. “This is the biggest challenge we have outside of marketing our product. We must cultivate the talent and help people understand that there is a very viable career path in the fed beef industry.
“Working in a feedyard should be considered destination employment rather than default employment,” he said.
This is a challenge for which TCFA is actively seeking better solutions, one of the many services that make the Association so incredibly valuable.
“The services the Association provides to support the industry are phenomenal,” Anderson said. “There are so many, and especially for independent yards, like ours, to have employee safety, BQA, HR and environmental resources at your fingertips is such an asset.”
Ross Wilson, president and CEO of TCFA, said Anderson is focused, deliberate and thoughtful in his efforts to do what is best for the industry.
“He continues to look for ways to better the industry,” Wilson said. “He’s determined, a required skill for any feedyard owner in this climate, but particularly important for those brave enough to lead.”
It is important to note that, while Texas Cattle Feeders Association bears the name Texas, the membership is comprised of feeders and feedyards in the three-state region of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
“Leaders from all three states play a huge role in improving the industry,” Wilson said.
Anderson’s influence and respect does not end in the three-state region. He has served the industry on a national level through his role as Secretary/Treasurer of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and on the Board of Directors of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
“Scott is dedicated to the industry he loves,” Wilson said. “He’s volunteered his time to better the entire industry, and that is not a simple task when you’re also running a feedyard.”
No doubt Anderson has tenacity. Beginning in 2012, he made the decision to pursue a three-year quest toward a Ph.D. in business administration and organizational behavior, but he didn’t step back from his role at the feedyard.
“Scott did both,” Wilson said. “That says quite a bit about his determination and work ethic.”
It is a good thing Anderson prefers a challenge and that he is determined to meet it. What 2020 taught us is that no challenge is off-limits, and it will take a steady hand to lead the cattle feeding industry through these uncharted waters.
TCFA 2020 Annual Convention
Watch the full TCFA Virtual Convention here.
Things are likely to run smoothly when Bernardo Barbosa is on the job. Barbosa, who is in his 28th year at CRI Feeders, is respected among his peers and employer for his hard work, reliability and unique talent.
Barbosa’s day begins in the early morning hours. He checks with his maintenance crew to see what needs to be tended to — whether it be working in the mill, servicing tractors, fixing water leaks or repairing fences.
Maintenance is never-ending at a feedyard as repairs and upkeep to infrastructure that houses thousands of feeder cattle is constant. What sets Barbosa apart is his sheer talent with a cutting torch and welder which, accordingly, is his favorite part about his job.
“If I build something with my hands, I’m excited to show it to somebody when I get it done,” he laughs. “If it works.”
One of Barbosa’s largest welding projects was building large, hydraulic squeegees for the feeyard’s tractors. The machines operate efficiently to help move snow from cattle pens. This equipment proves to be crucial for the feedyard during the winter months.
The project was challenging, but Barbaso says, that’s one of the most enjoyable things about his work.
“I like the challenge to do different things every day,” he says. “Doing different things keeps me motivated. And, at the feedyard, you put to practice what you learn from all the people that you have worked with.”
He enjoys the people in the industry because they value what each employee brings to the table.
“They respect what we do, and we all work together to get it done,” he says.
The Amarillo area beef and dairy communities presented a check for $81,500 to the Snack Pak 4 Kids (SP4K) Beef Stik Program. The money will provide beef sticks to hungry students through the Snack Pak weekend hunger program. The check was presented at the second annual Beef 4 Kids Classic golf tournament.
"Our local agriculture community continues to step up to serve their communities," said Dyron Howell, SP4K founder. "This year we served 60% more kids due to the economic impact of COVID. We expect that trend to continue throughout the school year."
The SP4K Beef Stik Program launched in October 2017. The program was designed to provide more protein for hungry students in the Texas Panhandle.
“Ten percent of the sticks we need for the entire will be funded by this golf tournament,” Howell said. “When we first started, kids would get about 10-12 grams of protein in their bags each weekend, which is woefully inadequate. Today kids are getting 68 grams of protein in their bags. This is protein they desperately need to be successful both at home and school.”
Beef provides ten essential nutrients and vitamins, including protein, zinc and iron – three key nutrients that are essential for proper growth and development of children.
“TCFA is grateful for the strong partnership with Snack Pak and the opportunity it has provided the beef community to help provide high quality beef to students in our communities,” Wayne Craig, Cactus Cares executive director and chair of TCFA’s industry relations committee. “Cattle feeders have a commitment to serve our community, and it has been an honor to be a part of this partnership to reach out and help our neighbors.”
How can you help:
TCFA would like to thank the sponsors and golfers who made this event possible. Major sponsoring organizations include Amarillo National Bank, Baptist Community Services, Cactus Cares, Capital Farm Credit, Cargill, Caviness Beef Packers, Champion Feeders, Elanco, Five Rivers Cattle Co., HF&C, Hi-Pro Feeds, JD Heiskell, Kemin Industries, Micro Technologies, Nutra Blend, Panhandle Surgical and Tyson Foods.
Texas Cattle Feeders Association members are invited to join any of the following webinars, presented by the TCFA Finance and Taxation Committee. You can register here. If you have questions, please contact Josh Winegarner at firstname.lastname@example.org or Savanna Barksdale at email@example.com.
Purchasing and Selling Cattle
John Massouh, Attorney, Sprouse, Shadar, Smith PLLC
David LeBas, Attorney, Naman, Howell, Smith & Lee PLLC
Protecting Your Feedyard When Lending
John Massouh, Attorney, Sprouse, Shadar, Smith PLLC
David LeBas, Attorney, Naman, Howell, Smith & Lee PLLC
Tax Relief Incentives
Mike Johanns, Chairman of Agriculture, alliantgroup and Former Secretary of Agriculture
Tyler Noesser, Technical Director, alliantgroup
By: Carmen Fenton, Director of Communications
No two days are ever the same for Armondo De La Cruz. He has learned to expect the unexpected.
“If a truck breaks down, everything stops,” he says.
The feedyard depends on De La Cruz to keep machinery and vehicles operating. He has worked at the feedyard for 35 years doing a number of jobs from throwing hay, batching and loading, to calling feed. But he thrives in work that requires meticulous and steady hands.
“We run the shop department,” he says. “We do the maintenance on the trucks, brakes, water pumps, anything that we need to do. The feed trucks, the corn haulers and the vehicles here in the yard.”
His dad, a mechanic by trade, moved his family from Laredo to Hereford when De La Cruz was a young boy. It was his dad who gave De La Cruz his first lesson in mechanics. That is something he has passed on to both of his sons.
“My dad was a mechanic, and that’s where I learned,” Cruz says. “And I got my younger son here now, and he’s learning. And my older son, he also worked here with me.”
Hereford is home for De La Cruz and his family. He and his wife raised three children (two sons and a daughter) in the area. Now, they have grandkids, which De La Cruz says is “awesome” since you can sugar them up and send them back to their parents.
When asked what advice he would give to a young man or woman wanting to get into the mechanical field, he smiles and says, “Just love what you do, and the rest will take care of itself.”
It is clear that advice helped Cruz along the way.
“I mean it sounds corny,” he says. “But if you like it, that’s good. And then if you can crack a smile on your face every day, it’s probably better stuff.”
Students from across the state made their way to the campus of West Texas A&M University on Friday, July 24, to showcase their skills and knowledge at the 2020 TCFA Junior Fed Beef Challenge.
This annual contest gives third-12th grade students the opportunity to gain industry knowledge and practical experience in commercial cattle feeding. Students feed a pen of three steers, take a written test and compete in interviews and oral presentations. Cattle performance points are also figured into the score to determine the winners.
Students compete for a combined $20,000 in college scholarships along with trophy buckles and plaques.
The Senior Overall Champion of the contest and winner of a $5,000 scholarship was Luke Bludau of Hallettsville. Senior Reserve Champion and winner of a $3,000 scholarship was Macy Lawrence of Canyon. The First Runner-Up and winner of a $2,000 scholarship was Grant Kubala of Schulenburg.
In the Junior Division, Emma Stevenson of Earth was named the Overall Champion and received a $350 scholarship.
Senior Division: Best Written Exam
3rd Place Written Exam – Macy Lawrence, Canyon
2nd Place Written Exam – Gavin Kubala, Schulenburg; Grant Kubala, Schulenburg
1st Place Exam and winner of a $500 prize – Luke Bludau, Hallettsville
Senior Division: Best Interview
3rd Place Interview – Hayden Holwick, McLean ; Kade Lawrence, Canyon
2nd Place Interview – AnneMarie Metzler, Cotton Center
Best Interview and winner of a $500 prize – Macy Lawrence, Canyon
Senior Division: Best Individual Carcass
3rd Place Individual Carcass – AnneMarie Metzler, Cotton Center; Clayton Stevenson, Earth
2nd Place Individual Carcass – Shelby Berckenhoff, Hallettsville; Brayden Smith, Blair
Top Individual Carcass and winner of a $500 prize – Clayton Stevenson, Earth
Senior Division: Best Pen Steer Points
3rd Place Carcass Pen – James Golla, College Station; Lane Golla, New Braunfels
2nd Place Carcass Pen – Clayton Stevenson, Earth
Top Carcass Pen and winner of a $500 prize – Brayden Smith, Blair
Senior Division: Top Rookie Award
3rd Place Rookie – Jett Long, Yoakum
2nd Place Rookie – Hayden Holwick, McLean
Top Rookie and winner of a $500 prize – Brayden Smith, Blair
Junior Division: Best Written Exam
3rd Place Written Exam – Alexandra Kelley, New Braunfels
2nd Place Written Exam – Kaydence Hood, Stratford
1st Place Exam and winner of a $250 prize – Jake Ressler, Hallettsville; Emma Stevenson, Earth
Junior Division: Best Presentation
3rd Place Presentation – Jenna Stevenson, Earth
2nd Place Presentation – Levi Golla, New Braunfels; Kaydence Hood, Stratford;
Alexandra Kelley, New Braunfels
Best Presentation and winner of a $250 prize – Emma Stevenson, Earth
Junior Division: Best Individual Carcass
3rd Place Individual Carcass – Jenna Stevenson, Earth
2nd Place Individual Carcass – Landon Koehne, Hallettsville; Abby Ressler, Hallettsville;
Walton Marshall, Midland; Virginia Stevenson, Bushland
Top Individual Carcass and winner of a $250 prize – Levi Golla, New Braunfels;
Lexi Golla, New Braufels; Luke Golla, New Braunfels; Jenna Stevenson, Earth
Junior Division: Best Pen Steer Points
3rd Place Carcass Pen – Alexandra Kelley, New Braunfels
2nd Place Carcass Pen – Jenna Stevenson, Earth
Top Carcass Pen and winner of a $250 prize – Levi Golla, New Braunfels; Lexi Golla, New Braunfels; Luke Golla, New Braunfels
Junior Division: Top Rookie Award
2nd Place Rookie – Landon Koehne, Hallettsville
Top Rookie and winner of a $250 prize – Kaydence Hood, Stratford
Suzy Hicks and Cindy Shipp can be best described as a dynamic duo. The pair has worked together for almost 20 years at Dawn Custom Cattle Feeders.
Hicks, office manager, began working at the feedyard when it opened its doors. She’s often the first person to greet customers when they walk through the front door. She also keeps track of every transaction made at the feedyard.
“Whatever they do today, I'll put in my computer tomorrow,” Hicks says. “Medicine, feed, anything pertaining to the cattle, I keep track of it.”
In an office three feet from Hick’s front desk, Shipp, controller, manages the feedyard’s financials. Everything from payroll to receivables. “No day is the same in a feedyard,” Shipp says. “It's all different. It’s a new world every day.”
Suzy and Cindy attribute their loyalty to the people they work with. “We've got a great crew who gets along really well,” Hicks says, “which makes it easy to come to work every day.”
Shipp says there is an understanding amongst the employees that everyone gets to work and does their job. “We all know our jobs here,” Shipp says. “You work hard, get it done, and people show you respect.”
When asked what they like most about their jobs, both are quick to acknowledge one another and their ability to work well together. “You know, I can tell when Cindy's got a lot on her plate,” Hicks says. “We both know when to let each other work, but we also know when to chat and have a cup of coffee.”
Both women exhibit gracious cooperation and hard work, two characteristics necessary for success at a feedyard.