If you're in the Tulare, CA, area in February, I invite you to stop by a one-day program of presentations that BEEF magazine will host during the World Ag Expo.

BEEF is the official publication of the World Ag Expo. On Feb. 10, BEEF editorial staff will host a lineup of speakers who not only will help producers understand the challenges facing them in 2010 and beyond, but provide insight into how to succeed in a business faced with those new and different challenges.

That 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., four-speaker program is free of charge and wraps around a free lunch. Here's what the program will include:

  • Steve Kay, editor and publisher of Cattle Buyer's Weekly and monthly author of BEEF magazine's “Meat Matters” column, will address the changing global beef industry.

  • Next, Gary Smith, Colorado State University distinguished professor and holder of the Ken and Myra Monfort endowed chair in meat science, will help cattlemen understand how beef system traceability will affect their business going forward.

  • Then, BEEF magazine's monthly “Market Advisor” columnist Harlan Hughes will dissect the biofuels economy and its effect on ranch country. You can read some of the North Dakota State University emeritus professor's thoughts on calf marketing in the coming decade.

  • And, Jim Robb, director of the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Denver, CO, will round out the four, one-hour presentations by providing a situation report and analysis of cow-calf and cattle-feeding economics.

As you read this, the count is less than 31 days away from the end of 2009, a year many within this industry will consider among the sorriest of their lifetimes.

A wheezing economy drove U.S. unemployment beyond 10% and helped to shrink beef demand. Production inputs are up and calf prices are down. As BEEF Senior Editor Burt Rutherford recently wrote: “Many cattlemen will look back on 2009 as a year when just hanging on could be considered a victory.”

There's hope ahead in 2010, however. As domestic and world economies continue their recovery, beef demand should also recover. Progress continues in reopening foreign markets to U.S. beef, the latest being Taiwan.

And, the beef industry is fundamentally in great shape, with total cattle numbers the tightest in decades. A near-record corn crop is projected, and heading into winter, there is more moisture in most parts of the country.

All in all, there is room for optimism and the potential for a strong upside in the cattle market in the coming year. Being situated for that potential is important and that's what this special Tulare program is aimed at helping provide our readers.

I hope you'll join us for what promises to be a greatly instructive program.