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BIF Annual Meeting and Research Symposium Highlights

June 28, 2019

Cattlemen and researchers from around the world headed to Brookings, S.D., for four days of collaboration and networking during the Beef Improvement Federation’s (BIF) Annual Meeting and Research Symposium June 18-21.

The 51st annual convention kicked off Tuesday with a young producer symposium followed by the National Association of Animal Breeders Symposium that evening. Wednesday’s presentations were geared toward applications of technology, with a discussion of new technologies in cattle reproduction led by Dr. Mark Allan, Trans Ova Genetics, and an update on gene editing technology by Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California, Davis.

Kevin Schultz, Haviland, Kans., shares the value of capturing data and integrating that information into production practices following the Wednesday morning sessions at the 2019 BIF convention.

Following a commercial producer panel, former American Hereford Association (AHA) President Kevin Schultz gave a speech on the importance of utilizing newly developed technology in production settings. In particular, Schultz emphasized how consumer behaviors will drive the adoption of new technologies in the beef industry.

Mershon Cattle LLC, Buckner, Mo., was named the BIF Commercial Producer of the Year during the lunchtime ceremonies. This prestigious honor recognizes an outstanding operation dedicated to improving the beef industry at the commercial level. Other finalists for the award were Blew Partnership, Hutchinson, Kans., and Larson Farms, Green, Kan. Mershon Cattle was proudly nominated by the AHA.

Tracey and Bruce Mershon, Mershon Cattle LLC, received the BIF 2019 Commercial Producer of the Year award.

A series of breakout sessions took place after lunch, where AHA Chief Operating Officer and Director of Breed Improvement Shane Bedwell presented on udder and teat evaluation. These sessions highlighted advancements in genomics, genetic prediction and producer applications.

Thursday’s focus was the utilization of big data, with keynote speeches on the next generation of genetic tools by John Genho, Neogen; emerging agri-tech in Australian grazing industries, Dr. Mark Trotter, Central Queensland University; and the use of big data in swine breeding programs, Dr. Jeremy Howard, Smithfield Premium Genetics. The BIF Pioneer and Seedstock Producer awards, scholarships and new board of directors were announced over lunch, followed by afternoon sessions regarding advancements in technology, end-product improvement and selection decisions.

World Hereford Council Secretary General José (Pepe) Bonica traveled all the way from Montevideo, Uruguay, to attend BIF, an event he says is great for connecting with all members of the industry. “Part of research has to be explained with papers but another part has to be explained with common words so that producers, farmers or ranchers can take use of them,” Bonica says. “This is why I value BIF and this is why I come. … The other reason happens in the corridors. That means meeting people, shaking hands, saying hello. That’s what it’s all about — to be updated, but to also be in contact with people and making new friends.”

For more information about the 2019 BIF Annual Meeting and Research Symposium, including live session coverage, award winners and press releases, visit