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By Scott Keith, Wyoming Business Council Livestock Genetics Program

The livestock genetics industry is rapidly changing and evolving, and with new technologies constantly being developed, seedstock producers have a huge challenge in keeping aware of the future. Breeding programs and production practices are constantly modified to fit the perceived trends of the industry and to stay current with customers’ needs, and decisions on genetic selection may take several cattle generations or years before the production hits the marketplace.  
Today’s cattle market, inventory reports and the many producers who sell seedstock make marketing seedstock a challenge. The days of the old breed consignment sales are gone, and even the sales at stock shows aren’t what they once were. Home production sales and private treaty sales are the main forms of sales today, and these require much more marketing on the part of the producer than ever before.  

Customers and buyers are inundated daily by sale ads and promotions from all types of media sources. Print media, periodicals, weekly livestock papers, special editions and show programs all do a fine job of advertizing, but are quite expensive for the smaller producer’s budget. Radio spots are effective if the right audience listens. Internet email blasts are effective with the new technology crowd.  

Today, ads and promotion alone won’t bring all the buyers you need to your sale. It takes personal contact with both existing customers and prospective buyers to have the volume of interest to make sales competitive. Just as it takes a well-thought-out production plan to produce what you perceive the customer of the future will want, it also takes development of a well-thought-out marketing plan to increase your ability to sell effectively in a very competitive marketplace.  

A marketing plan consists of much more than just planning your sale method or date, selecting advertizing media plans and mailing out catalogs. A comprehensive marketing plan involves spending time analyzing your current sale process and potential customer base. It identifies different activities throughout the year to market your seedstock and yourself. It provides tools and methods to gain insight into your customers’ needs.  

As I work with individual producers and associations to facilitate the development of marketing plans, I try to utilize a number of different elements to match with producer or group needs. There are many different books and references on the “how-to” of developing a marketing plan. In my experience, those best fit the writer, because that is what worked for them. Each producer is an independent individual with a different personality and thought process, and therefore there is a need for plan flexibility.  

As I begin the process of assisting the development of a marketing plan, the first element I consider is “Why are you in the seedstock business?” This helps define your “mission” or “vision,” and the passions you have for the business. It also helps envision the future, and where you want the business to go. The “goals” you set for your operation one, five and even 10 years in the future can identify what you need in your marketing plan today.

Your level of production knowledge, from basic pedigrees to the most sophisticated technology available, should be a part of your marketing plan. If you are only concerned about pedigrees and EPDs, that’s your future customer base. If you know the latest DNA profiles or RFI test data, that’s your future customer level.  

Identifying who and why you are selling to right now can establish a baseline for the identity of your future marketplace. You can identify if this is the right marketplace for your long-term goals and objectives, or if you need to reach outside for new customers.

After identification of the marketplace where you’ll sell, it is appropriate to evaluate your sales method. Are you currently selling private treaty when a more competitive bidding opportunity might best fit your marketplace, or vice versa? Perhaps an Internet sale may widen your territory, or participation in a bull test or stock show sale with a few head may create a new exposure for you. It is good to evaluate your current method each year, that way you can make changes if necessary, but keep in mind: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The next elements reach outside your operation to the relationships you have with the customers and potential buyers in your marketplace. Personal relationships sell far more than advertizing and promotion. People buy from people – people they know and trust. Identifying your personal relationship with each customer or prospective customer, then determining ways to deepen those relationships is a key to business retention and success. Each producer has a unique and different personality, just as do you. Knowing your personality traits, those of your customers and the interaction between them can make the process of selling much easier.  

Yes, selling: reaching out to people in a one-on-one situation to influence their decision to buy your production. Not high-pressure sales, but identifying the customer’s wants and needs, then finding ways to fill them with your genetics.  

After gaining a customer, it is important to keep that customer. Services provided will help ensure customer retention. It is not wise to offer services just to create sales. If you can’t fulfill those promises, then the customer feels shortchanged and will not be back. Place in your marketing plan only services you can fulfill and afford, then stick with them.  

Finally, after evaluation of all these elements you can effectively develop an advertizing and promotion budget for the coming year. It should fit within your mission, goals, marketplace, customer base and production knowledge. Consistency is key. Working with professional agencies or representatives of breed associations or livestock papers may seem expensive, but many times their expertise is most valuable.  

Through the Wyoming Business Council’s Livestock Genetics Program, I offer the service of facilitating the development of personal, business or organizational marketing plans at no cost to the person, business or organization other than their time. Those interested in more information or to discuss the possibility of developing their own plan can contact me at 307-259-3274 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

By Grant Stumbough, Southeastern Wyoming RC&D Coordinator, Natural Resource Conservation Service

Mark your calendars! The Southeastern Wyoming Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council cordially invites you to the 2011 Wyoming RC&D Association Energy Conference scheduled for April 28 at the 4-H Building in Wheatland.

The conference will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be hosted by the Wyoming Association of RC&D Councils. The councils consist of the Big Horn Basin, Historic Trails, Northeastern, Southeastern and Western. The goal of the conference is to address a wide variety of energy development opportunities, related challenges and potential solutions that will provide the foundation for a community-based energy development effort in Platte, Goshen and Laramie counties.

Southeast Wyoming has great potential to provide a generous portion of the nation’s energy needs and move us a step closer to energy independence. This corner of the state has been blessed with world-class winds, plentiful oil and gas reserves and is pursuing new energy technologies that are cost effective and conserve natural resources. In fact, Pathfinder Wind recently initiated the permit process to construct a 2,100-megawatt wind park in Platte County, and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has issued 153 oil drilling permits in Laramie County, 69 permits in Platte County and 24 permits in Goshen County. These energy development efforts will create a plethora of jobs and businesses, provide a clean and reliable energy source, and stimulate local and state economies.

A common theme of the conference will be how local communities can play an important role in the development of energy resources. By fostering strong partnerships with all energy stakeholders, local communities can help create new jobs and develop businesses to sustain local economies for both current and future generations.

The conference will also emphasize the need to conserve our majestic landscapes, clean water, abundant wildlife and agriculture production values. Conference participants will hear presentations from both the wind and mineral industries as well as local, state and national leaders on how we can work together to accommodate the development of a variety of energy sources while conserving our quality of life. This is a lofty goal, but we are taking steps in the right direction.

The conference is very timely and we extend a hearty welcome for all to attend. Jim Rogers, president of the Wyoming Association of RC&D Councils, will kick off the conference and also provide the closing remarks. Conference speakers and topics include:

Keynote Address - Governor Matt Mead will outline his vision for energy development in Wyoming.

Oil and Gas Panel - Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup, will serve as moderator. Panelists include:

- Jeff Schwartz, Noble Petroleum Inc., and John Dill, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, on oil and gas development opportunities in Southeastern Wyoming;
- Tom Doll, Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, an update of oil and gas regulations and operations;
- Jane Francis, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, on landowner water quality monitoring opportunities;
- John Barnes, Wyoming State Engineers Office, on temporary water use agreements and other water issues;
- Terry Stevenson, Platte County Commissioner, on the economic and environmental impacts of oil and gas development on counties.

Wind Energy Development Panel - Rick Grant, Renewable Energy Alliance of Landowners, will serve as moderator. Panelists include:

- Jeff Meyer, Pathfinder Wind, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, Wyoming Wind and Power, on wind development opportunities in southeast Wyoming;
- Loyd Drain, Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, an update on electrical transmission;
- Eric Lantz, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), on the economic impacts of wind energy development;
- Gregor Goertz on a landowner’s perspective regarding impacts to agricultural operations;
- Cheryl Riley, Wyoming Power Producers Coalition, on wind energy development challenges in Wyoming.

Other Presentations

- Milt Geiger, University of Wyoming, on how to make farm and ranch operations more energy efficient;
- Stewart Powell and David Askins, American Renewable Energy Associates, an update on the proposed Waste to Energy Plant near Guernsey;
- Sherrie Merrow and Randy Teeuwen, Encana Inc., on natural gas – from Wyoming for Wyoming- natural gas vehicles and infrastructure coalition;
- Donn Randall, Wyoming Business Council, on producing and marketing biofuels.

Conference sponsors will provide lunch and refreshments. They include the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, Pathfinder Wind, Wyoming Petroleum Association, Marathon Oil Company, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy Corporation, Fidelity Exploration and Production Company, QEP, Coalbed Natural Gas Alliance, Encana Inc. and REX Energy Corporation. The state RC&D Association could not host this conference without their help and their support and generosity is sincerely appreciated. Thank you!

Again, the Southeast Wyoming RC&D Council and the Wyoming Association of RC&D Councils welcome you and hope that you enjoy the energy conference. RSVP by April 22 to Grant Stumbough at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 307-322-2187. For more information and to view a copy of the agenda, visit sewrcd.com.  

by Mike Moore, Wy. Seed Certification Service Manager and Wy. Crop Improvement Association secretary/treasurer

The Wyoming Crop Improvement Association (WCIA), an organization of people and businesses interested in the production of quality seed, meets the first week of February each year to discuss topics of interest, to hear presentations on seed-related topics and show their appreciation to seed industry leaders.

The WCIA Excellence in Service Award is given to people who exhibit a high standard of excellence in the areas of seed production, the seed industry, or research and extension and/or have made a significant contribution to the Wyoming certified seed industry (i.e. educational, research, marketing and promotion).

Last February two deserving individuals were recognized: Gil Waibel, the director of the Wyoming State Seed Laboratory, and Jack Cecil, retired Sustainable Agricultural Research and Extension Center Assistant (SAREC) research scientist, past Wyoming Seed Certification Service manager and long-time field inspector. Both gentlemen were awarded the coveted green jacket in recognition of their dedication to the Wyoming seed industry. Gil has been at the helm of the seed lab since it opened in Powell in 2003, and has guided it through incredible growth during that time. Jack Cecil has provided field inspections in southeast Wyoming for many years, while also working at the SAREC and Torrington research centers, and he continues to do so even after officially retiring last year.

Crop-related issues discussed at the meeting included inspection timing as it relates to genetic purity and weed issues. The basis for seed certification is genetic, or varietal, purity, so inspections are performed when differences between varieties can best be observed. That timing varies by crop, but in the case of alfalfa that is during flowering. While varietal purity is the foundation of certified seed, other issues such as diseases and weeds are also part of the field inspection process, and some weed and disease issues are better seen earlier or later in the growing season. In the end, inspectors work with both producers and their historical knowledge of weed and disease issues in the area to determine the best time for inspections.

The group also discussed challenges associated with nightshade control in dry beans, with the final outcome being to provide seed money for a research project on the best methods of incorporating pre-plant chemicals for nightshade control. The study, which will be conducted by UW Weed Scientist Andrew Kniss at the Powell and Lingle research and extension centers, will serve not only the seed industry but also the commercial bean industry, as nightshade is an issue in beans destined for both edible and seed markets.

The WCIA meetings also provide an opportunity for education. A presentation by Joe Scianna, manager of the Bridger Plant Materials Center, detailed their efforts to research and release native species. Those releases are often production opportunities for Wyoming seed producers, and are used in the western U.S. for re-vegetation and reclamation needs. Attendees also gain production guidance through the discussion of commodity-based topics, such as the nightshade issue, as well as through personal interaction with other attendees and UW researchers and administrators.

Finally, the WCIA provides financial support to several causes related to the Wyoming seed industry and Wyoming agriculture. The organization distributed over $2,000 in scholarships to the children of certified seed producers in 2010 and continued a long-standing donation to the Wyoming FFA Foundation. In addition to the nightshade research project, they also provided support for the third year of a UW tall fescue forage and seed production trial. With assistance from numerous contributors, the WCIA also funds a lobbyist to the Wyoming Legislature in support of irrigated agriculture in the state. Finally, in partnership with the Wyoming Seed Certification Service, the WCIA educates people on the value and importance of certified seed through advertisements on the Northern Broadcasting Network.

For more information on the WCIA or certified seed, visit wyseedcert.com or call the Wyoming Seed Certification Service at 307-754-9815.