Before you laugh, I fully understand national ID is a long ways from anything approaching adoption and implementation, but it's been a top-of-mind consideration for producers for quite some time. Most producers accept the eventual reality of national ID, and understand it will create an infrastructure that will provide for a free, more robust exchange of data between segments.

Every time I mention this, a host of e-mails to me point out that national ID is strictly about traceability and there's no provision for anything else in the program. That's absolutely true, but if you have the means and incentive to do something, it will happen.

Not surprisingly, most producers recognize this. There's simply too much difference in value as a result of genetics and management not to differentiate based on those differences. And most producers are realizing that if you're to be differentiated on genetic merit, you had better be on the positive side.

As a result, probably more than at any time in history, producers are buying programs as much as genetics. And even within programs, they're discriminating between the good bulls and those not so good. The top 80% of the bulls have helped to push bull prices past all-time, record-high price levels, but the bottom 20% haven't found much demand. -- Troy Marshall