Meat grading

Price premiums are out there for producers willing to look for them and make the necessary changes.

Trey Befort, director of commercial programs for the American Hereford Association and Certified Hereford Beef (CHB), said his group is willing to work with producers who have their sights set on a few more dollars.

“Over the last couple of years we have developed programs to help improve genetic quality,” he said. “We want people to think about programs like ours that are looking for high-quality cattle.”

CHB got its start in 1995, using genetics from Hereford or Hereford-British crossbred cattle.

“Whether black baldy or red baldy, they need to be 51 percent white face,” Befort said.

He said consumer preference for Choice beef has led CHB to become strictly a Choice product, including a CHB premium program that uses the upper two-thirds from Choice or higher carcasses.

“We don’t own any of our cattle, but through this we are creating a demand for Hereford-influenced cattle,” Befort said.

Premiums are available for both cattle and hog producers, said Lee Schulz, Extension livestock marketing economist with Iowa State University.

He said there is a good deal of variety when it comes to beef premiums.

“You have grading premiums like you would see for something like Certified Angus Beef,” Schulz said. “You also have premiums for producing all natural or hormone- or antibiotic-free beef. Any premium is going to depend on what the packer is willing to pay.”

He said beef producers could shop for better prices, but most are likely to work with their packer on any sort of improvements to reach a price premium.

“They are going to identify which cattle are getting the highest prices and most likely stay with their packer,” Schulz said.

While there are carcass premiums for hogs, Schulz said many are based on factors such as volume, transportation and delivery times.

“We are seeing premiums ranging from 25 cents to $3.15 per hundredweight based on delivery time,” he said. “You see something similar for volume and other things. A lot of it is likely seasonal, when supplies are at their lowest.”

Befort said CHB works through National Beef Packing at their plants in Liberal and Dodge City, Kan. He said additional value-added grid premiums will become available this year at the plants.

Befort encourages producers to contact this group or other beef groups to see if they already quality for certain programs.

“We have 20 different traits and profit indexes available to producers who are looking to make some genetic changes,” he said. “There is a lot of information out there, and we are happy to help.”

Sign up for our weekly CropWatch newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.