Ready to take the reins
By CLAYTON RYE
Farm News staff writer
GARNER – As the future president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Ed Grieman, who farms near this central Hancock County community, is experienced in all phases of cattle production.
With 2,000 head of cattle on feed at any time, Greiman said, “I get accused of being a feedlot guy.” However, Ed and his brother Matt – whose operation is called Greiman Brothers – have a 650-head cow-calf herd that calves each year in January, May and during the fall.
Greiman Brothers feeds its own calves and buy additional cattle for its feedlot from cattleman by way of video each week.
They purchase calves from growers in Montana and South Dakota in November, from Missouri and Iowa in December, and from Missouri and Kansas in January.
These cattle are purchased at least 60 to 90 days ahead of delivery and Greiman Brothers buys them at weights from 500 to 800 pounds.
Fat cattle are sold almost every week with many of them going to a packing plant in Grand Island, Neb. The Greimans sent their first load of fat cattle to the recently reopened plant at Postville.
While much of the Greimans’ cattle business is conducted with today’s technology through cell phone and Internet video, the old-fashioned concept that a man is only as good as his word is as important as ever.
Ed Greiman readily acknowledges that trust is an important part of the cattle business as much of the buying and selling is based on reputation. Trust is important to the Greiman Brothers because many of the cattle they buy are seen by video only and bought on the recommendation of someone they trust.
One of Greiman’s goals, when he assumes the ICA presidency in January 2013, “is to make the organization an important asset to the cattle producers in Iowa,” he said.
Greiman gave the example that with today’s higher costs of buying and feeding cattle, many lenders are concerned with the increasing amount of money they are lending to cattle producers.
In the last year, Greiman said that his cost per head has increased by $125 and yardage expense has increased by another $125 requiring an additional $250 per head in only 12 months.
As ICA president, Greiman wants to gather various lenders of larger cattle operations so they can learn about what works and does not work in these situations to make the higher amounts of capital needed more easily obtained by cattlemen.
Greiman wants to have more meetings such as these where people with a common interest can learn to build those alliances that are good for the cattle industry.
Another area where Greiman wants to focus ICA efforts is with the Young Cattlemen Leadership program.
Recently, 13 young men and women – all with a cattle background and a desire to be part of the cattle industry in the future – met with Iowa’s governor, the head of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and Iowa’s secretary of agriculture for a question and answer session.
Greiman said he was pleased with the questions asked by the group without being prompted or led by anyone else. He described the members as a “really good group of kids.”
The purpose of the Young Cattlemen Leadership program is to train those people who can be leaders 10 to 20 years from now. To accomplish this, Greiman said the program will teach them to understand the ICA and to understand legislation and rules. A trip to a packing plant is scheduled for the next meeting of this group.
Much of ICA’s work is done by volunteers. Ed Greiman said he is going to challenge ICA staff to make ICA work “enjoyable and fun to be a volunteer.”
The ICA staff will be making more frequent face-to-face contacts with county organizations to better serve the membership. He wants to be sure ICA activities are well planned and informative.
Greiman sees a bright future for Iowa’s cattle producers. Due to lower feed costs and the expense of shipping, cattle numbers are moving north in Iowa’s direction. He said Iowa is poised to be number one in sustainability in the growing of feed for livestock.
Manure, once a nuisance byproduct of feeding livestock, is becoming an important resource and is increasing in value. Greiman’s own tractors that spread manure are GPS equipped for more accurate application.
The ICA is currently searching for a new CEO. Greiman is looking for someone who understands the importance of networking and the importance of working with other commodity groups.
Contact Clayton Rye at email@example.com.
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