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Iowa Beef Center —

By Staff | May 8, 2009

John Lawrence is the director for the Iowa Beef Center, but also plays a vital role for the organization as an ag economist.

AMES – When many people hear the words “Iowa Beef Center,” they may associate it to an actual meeting place; to visit and learn all there is to know about beef. However, that’s just not the case.

“If you’re planning on putting the kids in the car and coming to visit the Iowa Beef Center you’re out of luck,” said John Lawrence, director of the Iowa Beef Center. “It’s not a place, it’s a team.”

According to the Iowa Beef Center Summary, he that the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University serves as the university’s Extension program for cattle producers.

“We’re your central contact for all things beef,” said Taylor Gerling, communications specialist for the IBC. “If a producer has a question and they don’t know where to start we can direct them.”

The center is comprised of faculty and staff from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Iowa State University Extension.

Garland Dahlke, Iowa Beef Center and ISU Extension program specialist, prepares a feed bunk at ISU's college beef farm for an upcoming feeding experiment he will be conducting.

“We work as a team – animal science and ag engineering. Everyone makes for a better program,” said Lawrence.

The IBC began in 1996 through a legislative mandate in order to support the growth and vitality of the state’s beef industry.

“The real idea of the Iowa Beef Center is to be producer-focused and to be a central contact point for them to call one place and find information,” said Lawrence.

Each year the IBC team members help deliver the latest information directly to Iowa’s producers.

“The coordination and communication in the team is efficient and that helps producers find answers and solutions to their problems,” said Gerling.

Lawrence said his main duties as IBC director includes being the “coach, cheerleader and the water boy, everything to make sure people do their jobs well.”

However, besides director, Lawrence, an ISU ag economist, brings his experience to the table as a team member helping to assist producers with marketing, outlook, economic analysis for grazing, feedlot and environmental practices.

Another key IBC team member is Daryl Strohbehn, ISU Extension beef specialist.

Strohbehn has been an Extension cow/calf specialist for the IBC since its origin and with the ISU Extension for 35 years.

He said his primary role has been to offer leadership to cow/calf outreach programs throughout the state and to help improve the producer’s productivity and profitability.

Although he has recently started his transition into retirement, Strohbehn is still very involved with Extension and the IBC, continuing to finish up projects and offer outreach help through the center.

“We are very fortunate in our state to have the Iowa Beef Center,” said Strohbehn. “It’s a very nice transition from basic research at Iowa State University and other places. We take that basic work and extend it to the field in a practical manner.”

Garland Dahlke, a software developer for the IBC and an ISU Extension program specialist, has been with the center for six years. Dahlke was employed as a dairy farmer and as a feed salesman when he was asked to come to work for the center and Extension.

One of the projects Dahlke’s currently working on is the Warden-Beedle Test experiment, which is a system designed to measure individual feed intake for cattle housed in group pens.

Dahlke said that when he isn’t working on experiments, he may fill in for professors, help students and is the go-to guy for questions regarding computer programs such as “Feedlot Monitoring and Cost Accounting Software,” “Beef Ration and Nutrition Decision Software” and the “Estrus Synchronization Software” for cattle.

On another side of the Iowa Beef Center are the veterinarians.

Grant Dewell, a beef Extension veterinarian, said that although he has only been associated with the IBC for six months, he believes ISU and the center are vital assets for Iowa beef producers.

“They have integrated beef specialists such as economists, nutritionists, ag engineers, veterinarians and Extension personnel to provide leading advice to producers,” said Dewell. “Iowa Beef Center works closely with producer organizations to keep producers informed and profitable.”

Dewell said he and others within the College of Veterinary Medicine work with the IBC to have an integrated approach to beef production.

“We routinely have faculty from Iowa Beef Center give continuing education presentations to veterinarians and we are involved with Iowa Beef Center and Extension presentations for beef producers,” said Dewell. “In order for beef producers to remain sustainable in the current economic climate they must integrate aspects of nutrition, health, environmental and financial issues.

“The Iowa Beef Center provides up-to-date information on these issues and is helping to keep Iowa as a major beef producing state.”

Gerling said in addition to being the center for all things beef and a place to call with beef-related questions, the IBC also puts on several workshops including the upcoming summer feedlot conference.

The IBC, along with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Assocation, will be hosting the feedlot conference on June 10-11 at the Holiday Inn in Ames.

“Cattle Feeder’s Conference: A New Era of Management People, Cattle, Business” will provide cattle feeders with valuable information for tackling today’s troubles.

In addition, the Iowa Beef Center, along with the Value-Added Agriculture program and the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative are sponsoring the upcoming “Agricultural and Food Traceability Conference,” to be held June 9-10 at the Renaissance Savery Hotel in Des Moines.

The IBC, Gerling said also plays an integral role when it comes to sponsoring and holding field days as well as a great resource to come to if your organization is looking for a speaker for an event.

For more information about the Iowa Beef Center, visit www.iowabeefcenter.org, or e-mail them at beefcenter@iastate.edu.

The office for the center has recently moved into Kildee Hall, but can be reached as well by calling (515) 294-2333.

Contact Kriss Nelson by e-mail at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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