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Anticipate the pass

Progressive Cattle Editor Cassidy Woolsey Published on 25 August 2020

“Go to the ball. Don’t wait for it to come to you.”

Hearing those words were a common occurrence in my high school basketball days, and my team’s lack of implementation (myself included) could very well be the reason those days never amounted to a state title.

I remember our coach demonstrating his point as he waited for the pass. “See how easy it is to steal?” he hollered as our assistant coach swept in and caught the ball. “You need to anticipate the pass and then move toward the ball.” He would then show us the correct way with quick feet and hands up and ready, catching the pass seconds before the assistant coach.

This lesson was unlocked from my memory earlier this summer when I attended the Idaho Young Cattle Producer Conference. Discussing risk management in a time of highly volatile markets, Ben Eborn, an economist with the University of Idaho, encouraged producers to be watching and ready for opportunities.

Quoting retired Texas A&M Extension specialist Danny Klinefelter, Eborn said, “The main difference between the top 10 percent [of producers] and the rest of the top 25 percent is their timing.” So let me ask you this: Were you looking for bred heifers during the highs of 2014 and 2015? Or were you the one selling the bred heifers and capitalizing on that opportunity?

We’ve seen this manifest in a small way this year as consumers have turned to producers for their beef. While for some it is more of a headache than a profit opportunity, others are finding it gives them the chance to develop relationships, set a profitable price and create an alternative marketing avenue. But are there other opportunities developing?

Would now be a good time to buy heifers? Are market signals pointing to a decrease in herd numbers? Should you buy a few more cows? Could you sell your culls this year as ground beef? What about picking up a few stocker calves as the industry continues to work through this backlog? Did you fill your fuel tanks up? Or maybe you’ve even noticed a few leases popping up you could grab?

Sure, I am not an economist, and I don’t make my living with cows, but I know what it’s like to be on the back end of an opportunity. My husband and I were one of the many who were trying to grow their cow numbers during the highs, when what we really should have been doing is selling out and waiting to jump back in when prices dipped.

Just like a sports team’s ability to read and anticipate a pass, Eborn said producers who watch the futures market closely, learn to spot trends and reversals, and time the market just right might find themselves better positioned for a winning play.  end mark

Cassidy Woolsey
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