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Former participants of Extension Beef 2020 explain how the training helped them

When Canova-area beef producer Dave Skoglund took part in the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service’s “Beef 2020” training program two years ago, he came away with a more thorough understanding of how each segment of the industry fits together.

Skoglund learned so much, he returned a year later with his daughter, Maria, and took the course a second time.

“Continuing education is important in our industry, and it can be easy to forget the other sides of it when you work every day as a producer,” said Skoglund. “Beef 2020 classes offer producers a chance to interact with packers, folks in retail, all sides of the industry. It serves as a good reminder to all of us that pleasing the customer is what has to come first.”

Producers like Skoglund can take part in the 2011 session of the Beef 2020 training program on Feb. 15-17 in Brookings. The class is limited to 30 participants, and the deadline to sign up is Jan. 24.

Skoglund operates a 350-head cow-calf farm and also finishes cattle. He said he invited his daughter with him because he learned so much and he wanted her to have a chance to do the same. Maria Skoglund, a 21-year-old agricultural economics student at South Dakota State University, said that while she had no formal training in beef production, she was glad she took the course.

“I had some knowledge I gained from growing up on the farm, and from my dad and other beef producers, but it led me to want more information,” Maria Skoglund said. “What it gave me was great perspective on how packers, feeders, producers, and others are truly all on the same team. That’s something that can be overlooked when we all get so busy focusing on our specific roles in the beef industry.”

Both Maria and Dave Skoglund said working with producers who employ a wide range of production approaches – natural beef, organic, grass-fed, traditional – also helped them realize the need for unity in an industry that can have passionate advocates of one system over another.

“Regardless of breed or the approach to raising them, we need to stick together and learn from one another,” Maria Skoglund said. “Consumers don’t have to eat beef. They might not know the various parts of the industry. But when beef producers, packers, and others in this field work together, it helps everyone.”

Extension Beef Specialist Cody Wright is among the instructors of the Beef 2020 course, and he said the program helps producers and workers in the industry learn the lessons they need to strengthen the value of their product.

“Beef 2020 prepares producers, locker operators, and others in the industry to understand the necessities that go into producing high-quality beef,” said Wright. “The course is hands-on and intensive, and we open the discussion to get people to exchange ideas and to help them keep building up their base of knowledge and experience.”

Veterinarian Joe Klein, who works with White Veterinary Service in White, took part in the course in 2010, and he said it was beneficial to his work as a large-animal veterinarian.

“It gives participants an immersion into the industry from top to bottom, and I found the interaction with others in the class to be among the most valuable parts of the course,” Klein said. “The hands-on nature was also helpful. We processed carcasses and saw, cut-by-cut, how the various values are derived from an animal on the rail.”

Another participant in last year’s Beef 2020 training said he returned to his beef operation and began implementing the data he derived from the course. Jerry Hofer of the Lakeview Colony near Lake Andes said he only wishes every South Dakota cow-calf producer could take part in the training.

“I came away with the impression that if all cow-calf producers could learn the basics and the techniques used in the carcass fabrication training, it would go a long way towards improving the industry,” Hofer said. “Broadening the educational platform for all producers, to give them clearer pictures of the processing and carcass side, not just the live-animal side, doing that would have a positive impact on the industry.”

The training takes place at the South Dakota State University Animal Sciences Complex, located on Campus Drive and Medary Avenue in Brookings. Beef Bucks, Inc., will cover the cost of registration for the first 15 participants. The program costs $50.

To sign up for the course, call Wright at 605-688-5448, or e-mail him at this address: Or you can send your payment and contact information to Dr. Cody Wright, SDSU Box 2170, Brookings, SD 57007. Fax your information to him at 605-688-6170. The full schedule of events and a registration form are available online at this link:

In addition to the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service, the South Dakota Beef Industry Council and SDSU’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences are sponsoring the workshop.

Perhaps above all the lessons he learned, Dave Skoglund said the non-biased information the training gave him, and its overarching “pasture to plate” approach, made a big difference for him, and is why he’d recommend it to others.

“In this business, it’s all about learning, learning every day,” Skoglund said. “You never know when you’ll get that one piece of information that makes a huge difference in your operation.”