CROCKETT -- Global trade impacts on the beef industry as well as herbicide and forage management strategies were discussed recently at Cow Country Congress at Santa Rosa Ranch near Crockett.

The event drew nearly 250 beef cattle producers from East Texas counties who also participated in a bull selection demonstration. The event was sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Santa Rosa Ranch, and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, which hosted a ranch gathering following the day's activities.

Vanessa Corriher-Olson, AgriLife Extension forage specialist in Overton, said beef producers can use the U.S. Drought Monitor to incorporate into long-term stocking plans.

"You can use this to plan for additional hay supply needs if there are extended dry periods or just simply to be prepared for the next drought," she said.

Soil testing on hay meadows also can be a good management practice.

"How many of the you collect soil samples each year?" she said. "One of the cheapest, inexpensive management methods you can do on the ranch is getting a soil sample for as little as $10. In a hay meadow, you want to collect samples annually because as you cut hay, you are changing the nutrient values in that meadow. For pastures, it's a good idea to get soil samples every two to three years. Collect 15 to 20 core samples per 50 acres."

Corriher-Olson said a dry cow requires about 9 percent crude protein daily.

"That's why nitrogen is so important," she said.

During the noon hour, attendees heard legislative updates from state Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin, and state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville.

The afternoon was devoted to discussions on global trade and a bull selection demonstration. Jeff Savell, Texas A&M University distinguished professor and E.M. "Manny" Rosenthal chairholder in the department of animal science in College Station, gave a comprehensive overview of global beef trade from the 1980s to the present. Savell said demand for U.S. beef continues to increase. In the U.S., some 60 percent of beef consumed is hamburger.

"We just love hamburgers here in the U.S.," he said.

High demand continues for lean meat as well, he said.

"It's a big source of our imports and its increased in value because we don't have enough cows," he said.

Savell said Mexico has high demand for lean beef, wanting round, thin, lean cuts for a variety of dishes.

Overall, Savell said the export markets have created enhanced opportunities for U.S. beef cattle producers to market their beef.

"Even if you are selling calves to a local market, they will at some point wind up in the international market," he said.

Kelley Sullivan, co-owner of Santa Rosa Ranch, recently testified on Capitol Hill about the importance of expanding export opportunities for beef produced in the U.S. She told attendees at Cow Country Congress that $290 to $300 of the total value of a calf is represented in the international market.

"If that trade is lost, that $300 in value is gone," she said. "It affects everyone, whether you have 20 head and you sell to a local sale barn or have 200 head."

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin

Jason Cleere, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist in College Station, led a bull selection demonstration at the recent Cow Country Congress at Santa Rosa Ranch near Crockett.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin

Jeff Savell, Texas A&M University distinguished professor and E.M. "Manny" Rosenthal chairholder in the department of animal science in College Station, gave a comprehensive overview of global beef trade from the 1980s to the present at the recent Cow Country Congress at Santa Rosa Ranch.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin

Mark Currie, retired Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Polk County, serves a ribeye steak at the recent Cow Country Congress at Santa Rosa Ranch near Crockett.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin

Cow Country Congress attendees were treated to rustic Chuck Wagon cookery during the noon lunch at Santa Rosa Ranch.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin

Clayon Loftin grills beef fajitas in preparation for the evening ranch gathering that followed the conclusion of the Cow Country Congress program at Santa Rosa Ranch.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin

John Porter, left to right, deputy chief of staff and legislative director for U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, Jason Cleere, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist, and Gerald Sullivan, co-owner of Santa Rosa Ranch.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin

Kelley Sullivan, left, co-owner of Santa Rosa Ranch, Jo Smith, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent in Houston County, and Stacy Fox, director of member services for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin

Tuffy Loftin, retired Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county agent for Leon County, is shown with cooking ingredients hauled in a 1800s chuck wagon.

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