AgSpan intends to match certified feeder cattle with value-based buyers and pass performance data back to producers.

If buying feeder cattle were similar to placing a "personals" column, the ads would read: "Feedlots and integrated beef systems desperately seeking specification feeder cattle - on my schedule. Must provide me with the history necessary to predict performance and quality."

Cow/calf producers looking to sell calves, on the other hand, would submit this: "Cow/calf producer with high-quality calves desperately seeking greater access to value-based markets, as well as performance data needed for herd improvement."

And, consumers of beef products would file this one: "Beef consumer desperately seeking a beef product that is consistently tasty, tender and convenient. Hope to see you in the meat case."

Beginning the fourth quarter of this year, AgSpan Integrated Production eSystems, Overland Park, KS, wants to be the "matchmaker" that will unite those buyers and sellers with the ultimate goal of improving the quality and consistency of the consumer end-product. It works like this:

- AgSpan plans to match specific quality types of feeder cattle with the production and animal health specification demands of a feedyard or integrated beef system.

- A network of AgSpan-certified local veterinarians will verify that all AgSpan-sourced cattle meet the buyers' timing requirements and their specifications for health and management. These veterinarians also will assist in providing and interpreting the feedback information to their cow/calf clientele.

- AgSpan will handle all logistics of the transaction and will utilize order buyers and/or livestock auction markets as facilitators for the system. One of the AgSpan investors is Jim Schwertner, owner of Capitol Land & Livestock, Schwertner, TX.

- Driving the system will be the sharing of information between buyers and sellers regarding all key performance and management aspects of the cattle. The data will be passed via AgSpan's secure Web site - www.agspan.com.

The interactive e-commerce Web site will provide cow/calf producers with a database of feeder prices, cattle placements and cattle and carcass performance. In addition, the Web site provides e-tools to assist in evaluating marketing opportunities.

"This system is based on meeting demand versus selling supply," says Rich Shuler, AgSpan president and CEO. "We're trying to help the industry link together to produce a better product and make producers more profitable."

AgSpan is currently working with a number of integrated beef systems. Veterinary certification is expected to begin in October, with cattle transactions set to begin this quarter.

Membership is open to anyone and any size of buyer and seller at $240/year. This enables access to the industry information carried on the secure AgSpan Web site (www.agspan.com). Specific cattle information, however, is accessible only by the owners of the cattle.

AgSpan was initially a joint 50-50 venture between Ivy Animal Health and Friona Industries, Friona, TX. Friona president and CEO, James Herring, serves as a director on the AgSpan board. Subsequent investors include Capitol Land & Livestock. Other AgSpan principals include Lynn Godberson, vice president of marketing; Jim Norwood, vice president of integrated beef; and Ken Odde, DVM, vice president of veterinary operations.

For more information visit www.agspan.com or call 877/737-6444.