Football has the Super Bowl, soccer has the World Cup, and baseball has its World Series. For the seedstock and show industries, it's the National Western Stock Show (NWSS), which has been billed as the Super Bowl of cattle shows for a lot of years. NWSS is the bellwether event for the year, setting the tone for the entire seedstock industry and for various breeds.
Like other major industry gatherings such as the annual meeting of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, what happens in the NWSS meeting rooms or show and sale rings is important. But people attend just as much for the trade shows to network with everyone in the industry. NWSS is like a living library -- it brings a whole wealth of information together at one time for producers.
Not surprisingly, the discussions in the seedstock industry mimic the conversations that every segment of our industry is having. What will be the effects of the ethanol mandates and tariffs? How will we cover the additional production costs?
Then there's the excitement that comes with the progress of cattle improvement fostered by increasingly better genetic evaluation tools. Feed efficiency is the one trait everyone is excited about and trying to figure out how to get information on a wider scale.
DNA technology promises to play a big role in the future; the only question is when will the future arrive? Meanwhile, talk of concentration and the need to be big enough to capture economies of scale remain top concerns. As in other sectors, price spreads continue to grow, which drives one to ensure that he has the quality and the means to market that quality. And, like all segments, actual price levels are increasing but not at the same pace as costs.
Fundamentally things are super solid in the seedstock industry. With only one or two notable exceptions, almost all the major beef breeds seem to be experiencing positive momentum, with breeders feeling good about the direction of the cattle and their perspective associations.