“The Changing Dynamics of the Texas Beef Industry” is the theme for this year’s Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course, Aug. 6-8 at Texas A&M University in College Station.

The U.S. beef industry has experienced many changes in the past few years. “Rising fuel, fertilizer, equipment and labor costs are on the minds of most cow-calf producers and will be addressed at this year’s short course,” said Jason Cleere, Texas Cooperative Extension beef cattle specialist and conference coordinator. Input costs are not the only big change cattle producers have faced. U.S. consumers increasingly want more information on the foods they purchase, Cleere said.

Consumers are willing to pay a premium for beef that can be traced back to the ranch where the calf was born, he said. Natural, organic and grass-fed beef are also gaining interest among consumers because they are perceived as being more healthful.

“Some cattlemen question whether promotion of brands of beef from ‘specially raised’ cattle is in the best interest of the industry,” said Gary Smith, professor, department of animal sciences, Colorado State University. Smith will be addressing the issue during the general session of the short course. “(Some) customers will not purchase-and consumers will not eat-conventionally grown beef,” Smith said.

The beef industry should embrace production and marketing of certain kinds of beef that are perceived by consumers to be superior to conventionally raised beef because of methods of production, he said.

The demand for such products continues to grow, according to the 2005 National Beef Quality Audit. The audit projected domestic and international demand for natural beef would grow 2 percent to 4 percent each year for the next decade.

Cleere said many beef producers are asking: How will ethanol production and its impact on corn supplies affect feed costs and cattle prices? How long will current cattle prices hold? What about rising fuel and fertilizer costs? Randy Blach, executive vice president, Cattle-Fax, will address these questions among others at the short course.

The short course will also feature 16 other specialized workshops that are part of the Cattleman’s College sessions. The Aug. 8 sessions will feature several live animal demonstrations and an opportunity for participants to obtain a pesticide applicators’ license, Cleere said.

Short course registration costs $140 per participant. It will be $180 after July 30. The registration includes admission to the two-and-a-half-day conference, the Cattleman’s College, a copy of the 300-page short course proceedings, trade show admittance, tickets to the “Famous Aggie Prime Rib” dinner, noon meals and morning and afternoon refreshment breaks.

Producers interested in attending may register online at http://beef.tamu.edu or by contacting Cleere’s office at 979-845-6931. The short course is coordinated by Extension.