3/2/2013 7:00 AM
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant New York Correspondent
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — If the New York Farm Show seemed “beefed up” this year, it wasn’t your imagination.
The New York Beef Producer’s Association, in cooperation with Cornell University, offered more beef workshops than usual during the three-day show last week, according to show manager Scott Grigor.
The increase in workshops, held in the Dairy Building’s Beef Center, underlined a growing trend in agriculture: dairymen raising beef to add a revenue stream.
The association’s enthusiasm has also helped increase the number of workshops.
“The New York Beef Producer’s Association is very robust up here and they have a great volunteer group,” Grigor said.
He lauded the organization’s executive director, Brenda Bippert, who “hit the ground running” when she took the helm three years ago.
“She raises a lot of beef animals and she’s got the people skills,” Grigor said. “She’s great at getting volunteers organized, which isn’t easy to do at times.”
Bippert and her husband, Warren, along with their four grown children and three grandchildren, operate a 60-head operation, WBB Farm. The Bipperts raise Angus and registered Herefords at their Alden, N.Y. farm. The couple took over the 60-year-old, family operation in 2007.
WBB Farm sells many of its cattle private treaty to producers in the area, and raises feeder calves to sell in the fall. Bippert’s experience in sales has helped her gain both industry knowledge and the interpersonal skills to promote the association’s seminars.
To select the topics the association covers, Bippert said that interaction with members at their annual meeting and at other times helps them stay current and in touch with what attendees will want.
“Our main goal is that producers get quality, well-treated animals for the industry,” she said.
The beef industry has been growing in New York. Bippert agrees with Grigor that the increase in dairymen raising beef has a lot to do with it. But shifting a farm’s focus has also impacted the rising number of cattlemen in New York.
“A lot of the dairy farms have sold out and more of them are raising beef,” Bippert said. “That’s why we’re trying to do this because there are ones with one to five, or up to 60 head. The beef industry is growing in New York state and we want to help everyone get on the right track.”
In a vein similar to dairy seminars, the association’s seminars are getting more detailed, focusing on grazing and crop growing and how fodder impacts the resulting food product.
The association also wants to incorporate more farmers into their seminars. “We find people who are pros in those areas and have them speak at seminars. That’s one of our goals to eventually offer at every seminar. People can see how these methods work with actual farmers.”
The seminars included: halter-breaking, fitting cattle, ultrasounding cattle for carcass quality, reproductive technology and practical AI, cattle handling systems and management, castration techniques for feeder calves, preconditioning feeder calves and “Name That Cut,” a game based on the popular “Jeopardy!” game show.