Table of Contents:
- Competing Visions Challenge American Angus Association
- Genetic Evaluations
Do recent moves at the American Angus Association open the door for trends that have been occurring to accelerate?
I’ve never received as many phone calls or emails as I have over the recent events concerning the American Angus Association (AAA). I know it’s certainly been the number-one topic of discussion among purebred breeders regardless of breed. It’s from that perspective that I know everyone is expecting coverage.
Recently, AAA went through some internal turmoil regarding some aspects of the association’s direction, which culminated in a vote of confidence for the executive director by AAA’s board. I understand that a number of AAA employees, including regional managers and key executives, subsequently left AAA’s employ.
It will take some time to fully understand and comprehend what the outcome of the moves within AAA will be. I will admit that I am biased, as I love the Angus breed, have respect for the breeders and the leadership, and have faith that they will overcome any obstacles.
However, I do think this situation merits a look at the industry from a broader perspective. In many respects, AAA has been an industry barometer, so to speak, acting as a sort of standard currency in the business. Like the dollar in world trade, or English as the primary language of business, the Angus EPD system has been the standard for the entire seedstock industry.
Whether or not AAA is ultimately weakened, or evolves into something even stronger, is up for debate, but nobody I know has the answer to that question. The moves do open the door for trends that have been occurring to accelerate, however.
National genetic evaluation programs changed the structure and course of the seedstock industry, as well as the look and shape of breed associations. Breed associations were no longer simply social organizations of likeminded people who loved a certain breed or type of cattle; they now had the tools to help breeders improve their selection decisions.
It’s a model that has served the industry extremely well, and the genetic trend lines are amazing. However, like so many industries, economies of scale and a technology revolution have changed the game. It’s no longer necessary to have huge, centrally located main-frame computers to collect data. Nor is it necessary to centralize the computing power and expertise required to conduct a national genetic evaluation program at a small number of land-grant universities.