If, on initial entry into an alliance program, you receive $30/head above CAB cattle, you'll sit up and take notice. Burlington, OK, producer Kent Kisling did. He became a member of the Farmland Supreme Beef Alliance (FSBA) early on and benefited by receiving a substantial premium on his calves based on the FSBA grid.

Formed in September 1995, FSBA is a collaborative effort of Farmland Industries, Agri Beef Company and Farmland National Beef Packing Co. FSBA targets production for products within the Farmland Black Angus Beef(tm) and Certified Angus Beef(tm) labels.

To date, about 270 producers have placed 139,626 head at Supreme Feeders, the sole feedyard for FSBA, and the alliance is experiencing continual growth. Nearly 112,000 head have been slaughtered at National Beef. As of June 1997, FSBA had paid $1 million in producer premiums.

Kisling says because the program feeds with a goal of achieving a Prime grade, it pays off at slaughter. He and his partner, John Schupbach are using involvement in FSBA to improve their cow herd and management practices, including making cull decisions, better bull selection and using artificial insemination (AI).

"We AI'd 20 heifers last year. This year we'll do 67 heifers and 16 cows," Kisling says. Bull and semen selection are based on a combination of factors from information provided on the first set of slaughtered calves and the advice of Butch and Mike McCracken, fellow producers experienced with AI.

In addition, Kisling leans heavily on Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs). He's running a majority of Angus-based cows and heifers, consisting of about 250 cows plus a group of heifers. The bulls they've bought have come from herds also involved in FSBA.

"When we get data back on the group we're feeding now, I hope we can make even more effective breeding decisions," Kisling says. Breeding is just one area the alliance has helped Kisling improve. It's also created a varied income source.

"Our alliance involvement allows us to diversify our stocker operation," Kisling says. "Basically, it takes all of our eggs out of one basket, primarily stockers."

What opened his eyes, says Kisling, was a Farmland-sponsored conference that brought producers together with foreign meat buyers. "We had the opportunity to talk about what they (buyers) needed. Farmland is providing a way to supply their needs while allowing us to enhance our product in the U.S. We need the organization and structure it offers. We can't do it all ourselves," Kisling says.

For information contact Jim Norwood, CEO of FSBA at 816/891-3644 or Julie Kistler at 816/891-3645.