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Sound Production Practices - Animal Identification and Waste Management

Now is the time to develop a sound production plan that integrates with the food industry for maximum consumer confidence and satisfaction.

By Kris Ringwall
NDSU Extension Beef Specialist

The Dickinson Research Extension Center hosts several
agriculture student groups from different universities
throughout the school year. It is always interesting to ask
the groups or at least get a feel for how they respond to some
of the work the center is doing.

Student responses are very similar to how their parents
respond. As in most educational settings, the teachers know
more about the families of their students than they really
want to admit. The college setting is no different and
students generally reflect their individual upbringing.

Pride always shows. In fact, the students will pop their shirt
buttons when allowed to relay their experiences about the
farming and ranching business they come from. Students also
bring with them the conservative nature of farming and
ranching and the perpetual resistance to change.

This past month, I asked visiting students what they thought
about two very "in your face" issues, which are individual
animal identification and new waste management regulations.
The students' reactions and reflections by their looks and
actions indicated there is knowledge about the two issues, but
there is a general lack of response. The students were
reminded that these issues are here. The issues are not going
away and it will require action by the students and their
family operations.

In regard to the individual identification of livestock,
unless a major backtracking of regulations occurs, livestock
will be individually identified in the very near future. The
same is true for livestock waste management. The regulations
are real and need to be addressed.

Putting our heads in the sand is not going to work. Even the
ostriches are going to get an electronic identification
device, whether their head is in the sand or not.

Like many, the students reflect an attitude of "how can this
possibly be done?" Producers need to realize times have
changed. The vast majority of consumers have no connection, no
desire to connect and no willingness to establish a connection
to the food they eat. They simply want food delivered to them
with the total assurance it is wholesome.

The dependence on the food industry, which is the huge process
between the livestock producer and consumer, simply overwhelms
the efforts of producers and consumers. Things are changing is
the discerning bottom line.

Occasionally, having made a statement like that, I will be
stopped on the street and told that if only more of us would
get on the same page, these issues would go away. Life can
then return to normal. As I told the students the other day,
good luck because going on the defensive is going to be tough.

Think about it for a moment. In regard to animal
identification and environmental impacts, the industry that is
marketing the product we produce to individual consumers will
market the product as wholesome back to the point of
production. The defensive position would be one of

"What are you hiding," would be the immediate response. In the
marketing world, there is only one answer, which is, "We are
hiding nothing!"

The question then becomes one of cost. In the free market,
supply and demand are major players in prices and costs are
left to the producer to manage. That being said, back to
class, stretch the mind and let's go on the offensive.

Now is the time to develop a sound production plan that
integrates with the food industry for maximum consumer
confidence and satisfaction. Appreciate the past and use it
for positive future growth.

May you find all your NAIS-approved ear tags.

Your comments are always welcome at For more
information, contact the NDBCIA Office, 1133 State Ave.,
Dickinson, ND 58601 or go to www.CHAPS2000.COM on the


NDSU Agriculture Communication

:Source: Kris Ringwall, (701) 483-2427,
:Editor: Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,

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