If you've attended a cattlemen's meeting in the last couple of years, it's likely you've heard a presentation or two on alliances. You also likely sat through a speaker or two who talked about the changes occurring in our marketplace and the phenomenal growth of alliances.
My own non-scientific study says you probably nodded and agreed with the general theme of the talk but still aren't technically aligned with anyone or marketing your cattle in any formal alliance. This was probably a prudent decision, as many alliances have come and gone. And, while a few alliances have been hugely successful, the truth is the alliance movement, or revolution, largely is still a theoretical one.
That said, I'd argue it's time to become an alliance maniac. I'm not necessarily talking about those who contractually align producers, though that might be a viable option. I'm saying we have to have a positive attitude toward alliances and actively seek them.
So much is happening these days, it's nigh to impossible to stay current on everything. Plus, in modern cattle production, a rancher's management team is relatively small. Thus, to assume the best ideas, the best information, etc., will come from within is extremely dangerous.
We should be maniacal in our desire to find and work with the cutting-edge operations throughout the supply chain, either directly partnering with them or sharing information. Whether it a nutritionist, your pharmaceutical salesman, the best feedyards, packers or retailers in the business, there is someone -- and likely more than one -- with whom a relationship would be of benefit to you.
We should also be committed to becoming technology maniacs. It's easy to forget how big an impact technology has had on this industry, but try to imagine raising cattle without a cell phone, computers, EPDs, or any of the other technologies we use every day.
The list of technologies the futurists are predicting is mind-boggling -- we may have DNA tests for disease resistance and tenderness in the future. We'll likely have a whole new set of information and tools to do our job better. Of course, the early adopters will be the one who reap the rewards; the late adaptors will pay the price.
-- Troy Marshall