NALF Line | November 2012

Limousin Traditions: Where We’re Headed

Now that we have moved into fall some breeders have transitioned into the fall-calving season. Each live calf on the ground represents a new opportunity, whether it be a replacement heifer, seedstock bull, feeder calf or new show-ring prospect. No matter what way you look at it, Limousin calves are giving breeders a head start on next year’s profits.

That being said, even with proper marketing and management, profits can prove to be lackluster as superior genetics cannot make up for the fact that less people are buying cattle and feed costs are high due to dry conditions. It has never been said that raising cattle was easy, especially with the current drought plaguing the Midwest and other regions of the United States. NALF sees the repercussions of this in the office daily.

The conclusion of NALF’s fiscal year brings the realization there are fewer and fewer members every year. Consequently, cattle registrations numbers have also fallen. In 2012, the breed saw less than 22,000 head registered, down nearly 2,000 head from the previous year.

Memberships seemed to recover a bit in 2011, but have slipped once again in 2012. This is your reminder to renew your annual membership and pay the service fee on your lifetime membership.
The drought plays a huge role in this. NALF is not the only breed suffering from this devastating drought—all cattle breeds are being affected and farmers are taking huge losses.

Although a portion of the dwindling numbers at NALF can be attributed to a poor economy and unfavorable cattle raising conditions, they can also be tied to the fact that the agriculture industry is shrinking each year. According to the High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, 80 percent of the population was involved in agriculture in the 1800s, and today’s numbers have fallen to less than 20 percent. A big concern for the Limousin breed and farmers and ranchers everywhere is the dwindling number of young people involved in agriculture.

Junior memberships at NALF have seen a steady decline since the mid ’90s, but saw a significant increase in 2012, which is a huge victory. Junior members who have a positive experience with NALF are likely to continue as annual members. They are the new generation of agriculture, and without them, the population in the beef industry and agriculture, as a whole, will continue to decline.

At NALF, we take pride in our junior program, the North American Limousin Junior Association (NALJA), which assists in educating young people about the breed, the beef industry and agriculture as a whole. These young people are the future leaders of not only the Limousin breed, but the beef industry in its entirety.

NALJA members receive perks such as reduced registration rates, as well as having the opportunity to weigh in on pressing issues at the national junior board meeting. An organization such as this helps mold and motivate tomorrow’s beef industry leaders. It is critical in today’s world that our children are educated and involved in agriculture, not only for family purposes, but also for the future of food production. Not everyone can give their children a 1,000- head cattle ranch, but they can all receive knowledge and a strong work ethic from us. Fresh faces with valuable skill sets combined with a solid foundation in agriculture are what this country needs to feed the world.

It may be necessary to admit that the days of agricultural domination are behind us. However, that is not to say the end is in sight. One way to look at it is for every lifetime member that doesn’t renew, there is an annual or junior member stepping up to take their place. It doesn’t matter if he or she has three or 300 cows, or whether those animals are purebred, fullblood, or Lim-Flex®, simply spreading the word to potential buyers could make all the difference.

While it can be easy to focus on the negative aspects, it is important to recognize the positive attributes the Limousin breed has to offer. For example, even though memberships and registrations have been low, NALF saw an increase in annual member renewals from 268 in 2011 to 289 in 2012. An increase in cattle registration numbers should be soon to follow pending precipitation and cooler weather.

The National Junior Limousin Show and Congress had a successful turnout, which shows how hard our junior members are working for their breed.

Here at NALF, we understand that economic times are tough, and it is sometimes not feasible to register every animal born in your operation.

At NALF, we are doing our best to get the word out about our breed with registration deals for lifetime members, new DNA services, marketing opportunities and readily available literature to keep you informed. Now, NALF is asking you to do your part.

Take advantage of the services NALF has to offer to help spread the word about Limousin cattle and agriculture. Register some or all of your calves, report all performance data to make your top animals shine, and utilize our commercial marketing programs to promote your Limousin cattle and see top prices. Attend NALF and NALJA events such as the Emerging Leaders Academy or the National Junior Limousin Show and Congress. The National Western Stock Show is also an excellent way to promote our breed, as well as network with other breeders from around the country. Get your children involved in NALJA, whether it is in the show ring, satellite events or the junior board.

Most of all, be proud to be a member of such an important industry, and get the word out to your friends and neighbors.
As we move into the cooler months, we can only hope Mother Nature will cooperate and bring us the much-needed rain this country needs. No single factor can recover our memberships and cattle registrations, but the arrival of moisture will certainly help.

Limousin breeders have proven time and again they are hard working folks, and if we work together, we can increase our numbers. Rising annual memberships are hard proof brighter days are ahead. If we continue to get the word out and bring the people in, our efficient, high quality cattle will speak for themselves.

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