Does the renewable fuel standard impact beef cattle systems? Should a producer begin the tedious process of evaluating alternative systems, such as smaller cows and later calving, to allow for the increased cost of energy going into the producer’s current system? Will biofuel policy change again and make it more difficult to know the impact of our nonagricultural demand for energy versus agricultural produce utilization in food systems, particularly beef cattle systems? What is the take-home message of these words?

Models, when correctly utilized, do work. Utilized correctly means that adequate data points are available to offer reasonable solutions to the questions asked. Unfortunately, data points can be subjected to assumptions that then are projected into the model.

In the process of sorting through all the assumptions and academic filtering, the answers may lead to more questions about biofuel policy and its impact on beef systems. It is days like this that one wants to ask mom or dad what they would do.

Cattle production has remained a business based on common sense. Inputs and outputs often are determined through daily evaluation. Feed contracts may be short or long term and errors in judgment buffered against slim or plentiful days. Sounds rather abstract, but reading long reports based on assumptions and limited data are no different.

However, in the end, common sense needs to prevail. As the truck drives past the ranch turnoff and the hay yard looks a little bare, one cannot help but wonder just who needs the biofuel. Is it the hungry cows or the hungry cars?

Hungry cows won’t last long without fuel. The hungry cars can be parked until fuel arrives. As producers struggle to find and evaluate relevant beef cattle systems that work in today’s world, the search for energy sources is real. However, just rolling the dice makes poor sense.

What would you do, mom and dad?

May you find all your ear tags.

Your comments are always welcome at http://www.BeefTalk.com.