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Casper – Penny Zimmerman, American National CattleWomen (ANCW) president, spoke at the Nov. 27 luncheon for the Wyoming Natural Resources Rendezvous reminiscing on her time as the ANCW president and serving the organization.

“It has been exciting to meet people and CattleWomen across the country,” said Zimmerman.


Zimmerman is originally from Minneapolis, Minn. but went to college at Arizona State University, where she met her husband. They lived in Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Nevada over the course of 12 years.

She was an elementary school teacher for 28 years before she retired to focus on being ANCW president.

“My family grew used to the West and the culture, which is obviously different from Minnesota, but we enjoyed meeting people very much,” Zimmerman said. “We moved back to Minnesota, and my kids became involved in 4-H. I started them off with sheep because they are smaller and easier to handle than cattle.”

Now, consumers are two or three generations removed from agriculture, which Zimmerman believes is a problem because they have no idea what agriculture is and how they are affected by it every day.

“I remember my daughter had friends over one night, and they laid on these small square bales of hay in the barn watching our sheep during lambing season. My daughter didn’t think much of it, but her friends, who were not involved with agriculture, watched a few lambs be born. They would go, ‘Oh cool’ or, ‘Oh yuck,’ but they were learning about the basics of life,” she told the crowd.


Zimmerman detailed how she has had the opportunity to travel through many states, meet new people and attend multiple annual CattleWomen meetings.

“ANCW has promoted and supported CattleWomen across the country since the early 1950s,” she mentioned, noting ANCW has 26 affiliated states.

She said going into classrooms to talk with kids about agriculture is a great experience and urged the crowd to use tools provided by ANCW to educate consumers, help them learn more about the industry and get them to tell agriculture’s story.

“We need to tell our story,” Zimmerman emphasized.

She recommended people interested in teaching or promoting agriculture share their stories and said people interested in legislation can help, as well.

“We can be involved in what’s happening in Washington, D.C. by connecting with state senators and congressmen. We have those opportunities as women with a passion for the agriculture and the beef industry,” urged Zimmerman.

She mentioned ANCW is a grassroots organization that spreads the word about agriculture because there is constant opposition, misinformation and rumors, which portray agriculture badly. 

“I really enjoyed being ANCW president and meeting people around the country as I traveled. I want to thank President-elect Gwen Geis for her support, and it’s been a pleasure to be in Wyoming as the home state of the next ANCW president,” she concluded.


Gwen Geis of Gillette will take over as ANCW president in 2018.

About 10 years ago, Geis became involved with Wyoming CattleWomen (WCW) and moved up through the ranks to be vice president and president of WCW.

“I started attending ANCW meetings when I was WCW president and vice president and, after a couple of years, got more involved. I came away from my first ANCW convention as a board of directors member, then just continued to be involved and moved up through the national ranks,” said Geis. “I enjoy working with CattleWomen across the country.”

She got involved with ANCW because she believes agriculturalists need to be able to share their stories, what they do and how they raise their livestock.

“ANCW members are all working towards the same goal, even though our operations are different coast-to-coast,” Geis noted.

When looking towards her coming presidency, she is looking forward to traveling and meeting women in more states across the country.

“The same people tend to be at the national convention and the regional meetings every year. I’m looking forward to meeting people in different states and local members on a more personal basis,” said Geis.

She believes there will be challenges as ANCW president. Currently, ANCW is operating with no staff, so all of the women involved are volunteers.

“Serving on a strictly volunteer basis is a bit of challenge,” noted Geis, adding that maintaining membership and providing programs for members are additional hurdles she will often face in the coming year.

ANCW is a unique organization of women who are in the beef industry, for the most part, according to Geis.

“Members don’t have to own beef cattle, but it’s a good organization to be a part of to learn some leadership skills,” she said. “We have a voice across the country, and people can relate to us. I think some of the younger women are starting to see that about ANCW.”

To become a member, Geis recommended visiting ANCW’s website or contacting any of the state or national ANCW officers.

“There isn’t an ANCW affiliate in every state, but people can still be members without a state organization,” Geis stated.

Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

Healthy cattle equate to profitable cattle in all sectors of the beef production chain. Aiding in disease prevention – through astute management and proper vaccination protocols – is the first step in setting up a calf for a healthy life.

  In numerous published sources, consulting veterinarians and nutritionists have provided health and well-being recommendations for feedlots, but no published data addressed cow/calf operations on this subject. That is, until the Red Angus Association of America and Kansas State University teamed up in September 2016 and surveyed a large number of beef cow/calf veterinarians.

Vet input

  “We wanted to document some of the common health care practices recommended to cow/calf producers by veterinarians,” explained A.J. Tarpoff, MS, DVM, assistant professor and Extension beef veterinarian at Kansas State University.

  Tarpoff served as corresponding author of the abstract, “A survey of recommended practices made by veterinarian practitioners to cow/calf operations in the United States.”

  “Each cow/calf operation is unique in terms of size, number of head, terrain and climate, and that is why the veterinary-client-patient relationship is so important,” he said. “But, despite operations’ differences, the survey unveiled a nice trend of similar vaccination protocols that veterinarians are recommending to their clients.”

  Responding veterinarians hailed from 35 states and three Canadian provinces, with a majority devoting 50 percent or more of their time to commercial cow/calf producers. Over two-thirds of the veterinarians’ practices represented 5,000 to 10,000 cows, with 39 percent servicing more than 10,000 cows through their clinics. In short, these are experienced health experts for cow/calf producers.

  The survey’s findings identified immunization as the most important component of a healthy beef cattle herd to aid in the prevent ion of infectious diseases. Vaccinating cattle is a relatively common practice among cow/calf producers, and the survey validated what many ranchers already know. Disease prevention via a thorough vaccination program is the foundation of good health.

  Even so, a portion of the beef cattle population remains unvaccinated, leaving those animals susceptible to multiple diseases and lost profit.

Disease concerns

  “Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is the most common – and costly – ailment in all stages of beef production,” said Tarpoff. “Feedlot cattle that break with pneumonia have decreased production and health, and it is the leading cause of death in feeder cattle.”

  BRD alone costs the beef industry millions of dollars every year in treatment and death loss. Viruses commonly isolated from calves infected with BRD included infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) and persistently infected (PI-3) calves – all of which can be controlled or mitigated through vaccination.

  “BRD complex is multifactorial,” said Tarpoff. “We must do our best to reduce the stressors that contribute to sickness onset – like weaning, transportation, commingling and inclement weather. Through vaccination, we can boost and challenge a calf’s immune system to help protect him against bacterial and viral pathogens that result in illness.”

  He continued, “Vaccines are not magic in a bottle. Regardless of the brand, producers must have realistic expectations of the product and diligently implement low-stress management practices for optimal results.”

Buying health

Veterinarians aren’t the only ones who endorse progressive approaches. When purchasing feeder or stocker cattle, Cody Cornwell of Cornwell Ranch in Glasgow, Mont. focuses on management practices that add value to a set of calves, such as a vaccination protocol, program-specific ear tags, fly control and weaning before shipping.

  “The Red Angus tags – either Feeder Calf Certification Program (FCCP) or Allied Access – are a visual indicator of a rancher who is willing to take the extra step in their herd management,” said Cornwell. “It shows that they understand the importance of traceability and that they take complete ownership in raising that calf.”

  “If a producer is willing to enroll his calves in FCCP or Allied Access, we know they are buying registered bulls, traceable to Red Angus genetic lines. Age and source verification is extremely important right now for export markets.”

Sixty-nine percent of the veterinarians who responded to the survey agreed that calves should be ear tagged for management purposes.

  Cornwell reinforced the findings of the veterinary health survey, recommending a modified-live vaccine with pasteurella administered on the ranch. 

  “Ranchers need to set themselves apart so buyers know their cattle are worth more,” he said. “That marketing distinction begins by vaccinating at branding and then boosting before weaning. Those who don’t follow a vaccination regime or who sell bawling calves will be left behind in the industry. Do everything you can to prepare that calf for the next chapter in his life.” 

“Proper management starts at birth. What’s done on the ranch begins the stepping stones for the animal to become a productive member of the cattle industry. Properly managed calves are healthier throughout all stages of the production cycle – they perform better with fewer inputs to maintain production levels. Healthy cattle simply have a much better flow through the system,” concluded Tarpoff.

  The official abstract and veterinary health survey will be published in The Professional Animal Scientist later this year.  

The Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) serves the beef industry by enhancing and promoting the competitive advantages of Red Angus and Red Angus-influenced cattle. RAAA provides commercial producers with the most objectively described cattle in the industry by seeking and implementing new technologies based on sound, scientific principles that measure traits of economic importance. For more information, visit

One of the greatest privileges of being a Wyoming State FFA officer is the opportunity to travel around the state and make an impact in the lives of many FFA members.

In June, we had the amazing opportunity to do just that at Wyoming FFA Leadership Camp. It’s clear to see how camp makes a difference in the lives of students, as many of them love the experience and come back multiple times. Seeing the change that FFA camp makes in the lives of students is nothing short of incredible. Many of them show up shy but leave as strong, confident leaders. 

This year happened to be very special as it was the 40th anniversary of camp. FFA camp has helped countless FFA members find themselves as leaders and individuals, so in honor of the 40th, the camp theme was “The Right Direction.” Now, one of the many questions asked at camp was, what is the right direction for agriculture? It’s clear to see that, after just one week of camp, FFA members who attended are headed in the right direction, but what can the agricultural community do as a whole to ensure that the ag industry is headed in the right direction?

Agricultural production is very important for our nation, as well as our state. It is the nation’s single largest employer, with over 23 million jobs involved in some facet of American agriculture. There are over 2 million farms across the United States making up over 900 million acres. Wyoming ranks 11th in the nation in total land used in agriculture and first for average size of farms and ranches, with 30.4 million acres of land and 11,700 farms and ranches across the state. It is clear that agriculture is a very integral part of our nation and makes up much of our economy. However, what does the future hold in store for us? With a world population that is growing exponentially, it is estimated that we will need to produce 70 percent more food to keep up with the growing demand. Feeding the world will definitely be a daunting task, with the world population projected to swell to over 9 billion people in the next 30 years, which brings the question, what is the right direction for Agriculture?

For starters, there really is no one right direction for agriculture. Agriculture has shifted and evolved for many years, and there is really no right way of doing things. Instead, it’s the diversity within agriculture that makes it so unique and special. Without diversity in our crops, livestock and ways of thinking, the agricultural industry would not be able to succeed. With all of this diversity, it is therefore difficult to determine what the right direction for agriculture is.

With every direction, though, there is always a place to start, and I believe the best place to start begins today with the things we do. First and foremost, it begins with advocating for our industry and everything we value and believe. Public perception of our industry is becoming a more pressing issue, and the best thing we can do is inform the public about what we do and the things we stand for. Perhaps the most important place to start is with our youth. 

After attending FFA camp, we, as state officers, got to experience firsthand the great members that FFA has to offer. We got to see their passion and devotion to a lifestyle and industry that many of them have grown up in and will continue to be actively involved in.

Our youth are so important because they are our future. They are the ones who will grow up to work in the ag industry and advocate for all of its noble causes. They will become farmers, ranchers, business leaders and law makers. Organizations such as FFA and 4-H are vital to the future of the agricultural industry, and it all begins right now.

The best thing that we can offer to our youth is support from producers, business leaders, legislatures and teachers. With lots of support and encouragement, I believe that America’s youth will grow up to lead agriculture in the right direction which will allow it to prosper for many years to come.    

Kersh is originally from Cheyenne and will serve as a Wyoming State FFA officer until April of 2018.

  It hasn’t been smooth sailing for the beef cattle industry over the past year. For its part, the cattle market has certainly been aggravating. As a beef producer, I know the limitations of what any of us at the ranch level can do individually to fully control profitability and assure that the bottom line has more black ink on it than red.

Our industry organizations must not only be aware of those limitations but be on the lookout for ways that damaging outside influences can be mitigated. Recently, the Federation of State Beef Councils did just that, dipping into its reserve funds to support national and international promotion programs that would help increase demand for beef.

The Federation allocated more than $1.2 million from its reserve funds over the last nine months for this effort. These dollars come from state beef council boards, who voluntarily remit part of their half of the one-dollar-per-head beef checkoff to be used at the national and international levels. State board members recognize that beef production states without large population centers benefit from spending their checkoff dollars where most beef consumers live.

The promotions were conducted during a time of high protein production that put significant pressures on the cattle market. One of the efforts was a campaign conducted by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program, to drive nationwide sales of fresh beef at retail.

That promotion is based on a program called Ibotta, a mobile shopping app with a subscriber rate of 22 million mostly-millennial consumers. The partnership gave consumers the chance to engage with educational information about beef and then unlock a small cash-back rebate for any ground beef product at any store, nationwide. The Beef Checkoff Program paid for the rebates of verified sales.

Results from the effort significantly surpassed standard Ibotta campaigns. The redemption rate for ground beef was nearly 40 percent, while the average Ibotta redemption rate is 23 percent. More than 1.45 million consumers unlocked the beef rebate and saw beef content, such as videos, recipes and messages, and more than 576,000 redeemed the rebates. In just four weeks, more than 631,000 pounds of ground beef were sold.

Many state beef councils contributed additional funding to promote the campaign to consumers in their markets. They helped drive traffic to the app and create broader visibility for beef. The total value of the Ibotta campaign is estimated to be more than $4.4 million.   

But that’s only half of it. International promotion funded through the Federation allocation and conducted by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, another checkoff contractor, helped move more than a million incremental pounds of beef in Japan and Korea.

Among the efforts was a push to have chilled U.S. beef replace Australian beef at all Costco outlets in Korea – which came to full fruition in May 2017. This was accomplished through USMEF trainings, sampling demonstrations, regular visits and meetings to build relationships, and more. It means an incremental increase of over 33 million pounds, which will increase the total U.S. market share in Korea by about three to four percent.

  These results are gratifying but are obviously only a small portion of what the state and national checkoff-funded partnership does daily to help increase consumer acceptance of and demand for beef in the United States and abroad.

I’m proud of the work my fellow beef producer volunteer leaders have done to oversee these kinds of efforts, and the staffs that carry out the programs. And I’m especially proud of all cattle producers who make this work possible through their one-dollarå-per-head checkoff investments. 

Effertz is a producer from Velva, N.D.