The BEEF Quality Summit, set for Nov. 14-15 in Oklahoma City, promises a one-of-a-kind, business experience for operators interested in learning the ropes and making the connections to participate in the value-added profit opportunities of today's beef cattle market.

The first day's program will focus on what “quality” means to consumers, and examine the opportunities that exist in U.S. and export markets. In addition, attendees will be provided with real-life examples by folks already participating in those opportunities, says Bill Zimmerman, cattle producer and former University of Minnesota Extension educator, who designed the program for BEEF.

It begins with a morning session of presentations by Robert Cannell, supply chain director for McDonald's USA; Tony Ribble, beef category manager for Wal-Mart Supercenters; and Steve Erickson, vice president of Outback Steakhouse. Individually these folks represent the giants of the quick-service, retail and restaurant trade, respectively. Together, they represent billions annually in beef-purchasing dollars.

That afternoon, BEEF magazine marketing columnist Harlan Hughes will discuss “Quality, profit and the cattle cycle,” while BEEF Senior Editor Clint Peck will talk on “International competition and opportunities for U.S. quality beef.” The U.S. Meat Export Federation's Lynn Heinze rounds out the afternoon session with a talk on “Current international beef trade opportunities.”

Following a tradeshow reception and dinner, a special twilight session features a panel of producers who will share how they're being paid for the quality they produce. Included are: Wayne Cockrell, Carter Ranch, Oakwood, TX; Ted Davis, Morgan Davis International, Macomb, OK; Barb Downey, Downey Ranch, Wamego, KS; Mary Ann Kniebel, Kniebel Farms, White City, KS; and Dan Schoenfelder, Rainbow's End Ranch, Elfrida, AZ, and Bastrop, TX.

The Wednesday program will focus on what to look for in selecting a marketing partner. Kicking it off is a panel discussion on the role of various marketing channels. A panel of speakers will address the question, “How can you help me make my cattle more valuable?”

Appearing on that panel are: Tracy Brunner of Cow Camp Beef, Inc., Ramona, KS; Ken Bull, Cargill Beef vice president for cattle procurement; Travis Choat, Smithfield Beef Group director of technical services/live operations; Mark Harmon, Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage, MO; Mark McCully, Certified Angus Beef director of supply development; Bill Mies, eMerge Interactive's vice president of national accounts; Bill Roser, Wheeler Brothers Feedyard, Watonga, OK; and Mark Spire, DVM, Schering-Plough Animal Health bovine technical services manager.

DeeVon Bailey, Utah State University economist, rounds out the morning session with a talk on “Costs, trade-offs and risks — Will it pay to produce for a specific market?”

Following lunch, the final afternoon begins with Colorado State University's Gary Smith addressing the topic, “Why quality matters.” And the summit wraps up with a special session, entitled “Linking up with a marketing partner,” in which summit attendees can meet with participating marketing channel reps in individual breakout areas to get questions answered, compare programs, and, if desired, “link up” their cattle.

It's, pardon the expression, one whale of a beef-industry program, all designed and narrowly focused to provide attendees with the background and the connections to plot their course in the new beef-value chain. Learn more at or call 800-722-5334.