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ICA?CEO hopes to see calf herd grow again

By Staff | Apr 1, 2011

FORT?DODGE – Duane Gangwish, the new chief executive officer for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, said he hears from cow-calf herd owners in Iowa that there is more pressure on them to increase their calf inventories.

Gangwish made his comments to Farm News Monday night, while waiting to be the guest speaker at the Webster County cattlemen’s annual banquet at the county fairgrounds.

Without an increase in the calf inventory, observers say that Iowa’s feedlots will be less-populated starting in July.

Gangwish said the reduced calf supply is a result of a weak dollar and a high cull-cow market.

“The margin is very tight,”?Gangwish said. “If you’re risking $1,100 for a replacement calf, and spending $300 to $400 to feed it, you’re looking to make $30 to $40 on that animal.

“You’re literally chasing dollars to make pennies.”

However, with current record-high calf market, he hopes to see this as an incentive among stockmen to build herds again.

He said it is particularly important since young farmers are looking at livestock, “as a lower entry fee into farming, especially with city jobs being so few.

“But it’s still not for the faint-of-heart.”

ICA strong

Later, Gangwish told more than 150 in attendance that the association is strong with new leadership and its finances – a $45,000 balance on a $1.6 million budget – “is still sound.”

He outlined a three-year strategy plan for ICA that includes picking about a dozen young cattlemen and take them through a year of ICA business including the Iowa legislative session, working with the industry.

“This would school them to be leaders for tomorrow,”?Gangwish said.

He said ICA is working to help pass a bill in the Iowa legislature designed to criminalize animal rights people from fraudulently being employed on a farm to secretly video animal husbandry.

He said such groups have filmed abuses, but waited to release the videos for a politically opportune time.

“We deplore animal abuse,”?Gangwish said. “Those who have knowledge of it should report them right away rather than wait for political expediency.”

He said similar efforts on behalf of cattlemen are being expended on the national level as well.

“For the price of filling your pick-up nowadays,”?Gangwish told the audience, “you can be arming, feeding and housing the army that fights on your behalf in Washington.”

Odd alliance

Gangwish said the ICA has joined the efforts of non-traditional allies such as environmental groups and natural heritage organizations to keep CRP lands as grasslands for grazing in the next farm bill.

He encourage the membership to be involved and stay alert to issues that affect them.

“The world is run by those who show up and pay attention,”?he said.

In other business, the Webster County organization crowned the 2011 county beef queen – Cheyenne Jones – and the 2011 county beef princess – Hannah Carlson.

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453 or at kersh@farm-news.com.

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