Feeding Sector
James Herring, CEO, Friona Industries LP, Amarillo, TX

Alignment is the industry’s future

"Down the road, the ever-evolving beef industry supply chain will be much different than today. Consequently, it stands to reason that beef industry participants will also have to be much different.

"Huge capital requirements, monstrous volatility, aging demographics of our producers and our old Achilles heel — the impossibility of an easy, seamless, vertically aligned production system — will all contribute to constant pressure throughout the beef system, with its five distinct segments for innovation, efficiency, product quality and consistent delivery.

"The future of the industry really comes down to alignment.

  • The cow-calf segment will need to respond to and align with upstream demands for more consistent and valuable genetics.
  • The stocker segment will need to create stable and predictable relationships that will allow forward pricing and consistent year-round demand.
  • Feeders will need to align with the processing industry to create a predictable and sincere market that allows timely harvest at a predetermined consistent formula for value.
  • Packers will need to successfully create a predictable interface with the consumer through an effective and consistent relationship with the retail establishment.
  • Finally, of course, all of us in the beef trade will have to focus on thoughtful, consistent delivery of a predictable eating experience to our eventual consumer!

James Herring"That’s what a successful beef industry must look like. Now, who will populate this industry? They won’t be called cowboys, cattlemen or meatheads; they will be called “designers of business systems.”

"Beef industry success stories in the future will be about entrepreneurs who create practical, efficient, cost-relevant production systems that deliver consistent quality and quantity year-round, and provide maximum protection to capital and risk. Those producers, no matter in what segment they operate, will display entrepreneurial curiosity, technological innovation, situational awareness, decisiveness and mission focus.

And they will provide it in an ever-changing global industry with great risk and great reward!"