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Agriculture Today

Lyons ‘Eight Big Ideas’ for dairy, beef producers

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January 4, 2012 | 4,401 views | Post a comment

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Alltech’s biggest-ever Global 500 conference concluded, after welcoming nearly 700 dairy and beef producers from 32 countries to Alltech’s home in Lexington, Ky., according to a Dec. 8 press release.

President and founder of Alltech, Dr. Pearse Lyons, opened the conference with his “Eight Big Ideas” for the dairy and beef industries:

•Efficiency: The cow is a fermentor and is designed for fiber. The dairy/beef industry can increase efficiency and feed fiber.

•Greenhouse gases: Dairymen and ranchers cannot stick their heads in the sand. Greenhouse gases are a real problem and sooner or later will be taxed.

•Mineral wastage and pollution: Three-quarters of a kilo of mineral waste per cow means a ton of mineral waste per day on a 1,000-cow farm.

•Creating more nutritious milk and beef.

•Branding: Branding is essential. Why is soda $5 per gallon when milk is so much better for you?

•Fiber: Grain is expensive or unavailable. Fiber is not only a cheaper alternative but the rumen is designed to use it.

•Nutrigenomics: This is a nutrition revolution. Nutrigenomics allows us to study how nutrients switch genes on and off. The ag sector can then develop programmed nutrition plans for young animals to increase efficiency and performance for life.

•Social media: Dairymen and ranchers have to tell their story.

The opening was followed by two days of seminars, covering everything from nutrition to branding and social media. Experts from all areas of the industry were on hand to give dairy and beef producers all the information they need to take on the challenges of a changing industry.

Paul Gardner, responsible for all milk- and dairy-ingredient purchasing at Groupe Danone, a company that purchases $3 billion of milk each year, spoke about dairy demand. He also spoke of one of the biggest challenges for the dairy industry, price volatility.

“Volatility in the market is huge when you buy that much milk, but volatility is a much bigger issue for farmers. One year you can think about investing and the next year you cannot buy Christmas presents for your kids. When farmers can invest, they make short-term investments because volatility prevents them from making long-term investments,” Gardner said.

During the beef discussion panel, John Butler of the Irish food board Bord Bia talked about the importance of educating consumers.

“It is critical to understand your market and know what they want, but it is important to educate those consumers in a way that they will understand why they should want this product,” Butler said. “If nutrition is their concern we explain the nutritional value of the product. If it is safety then we explain the practices we use to make sure the meat through every phase is the best quality.”

In addition to seminars on the future of the industry, the conference attendees had the chance to network with other producers and farmers, and participate in discussion dinners that focused on hotly debated topics.

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