US meat and livestock companies spend a lot on agricultural education, could Australia learn from it?

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WITH only a small percentage of the American population growing up in the agricultural industry, companies have spent a lot of money to attract young, talented minds.

That money was in full force last week, with a steer sold for US$1 million to help students fund their college degrees. (Click here for Beef Central’s story on the steer auction)

But steer auctions aren’t the only example of the US beef industry making significant investments to educate the next generation.

In 1986, a group of industry leaders formed an organization called the International Stockmen’s Educational Foundation – with the aim of connecting university students to industry.

Its main program has been the International Livestock Congress, where students come from all over the world, including Australia, to discuss the future of the industry with industry leaders. It also has a scholarship program, which helps graduate university students fund the networking trip.

For decades, the foundation has been supported by a private endowment and money from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, where its signature event is held. But ISEF chair Dr. James “Bo” Reagan said the companies were now doing most of the funding.

“We have a lot of companies that will come and sponsor students directly, companies like Cargill and Tyson Foods,” Dr. Reagan said.

“Further funding comes from conference registrations and we have 27 board members from major agricultural companies who will donate to the organization. Many companies still understand the importance of building relationships and this is what our organization exists for. »

Discussion without agenda

Dr Reagan said the organization aimed to keep association agendas out of discussions to ensure there was a clear understanding of industry issues.

“We try to focus on the major issues facing the domestic and international beef industries,” he said.

“It’s a good mix between academia and industry, we don’t have members and we tell all association members to keep their agendas at the door. That way we can have a good discussion honest about industry issues.

The International Livestock Congress in Houston last week heard about a range of issues, including meat misinformation.

Russell’s Cross is a former president, founding member, and professor of Texas A&M University, now in its Hall of Fame. He said while the immediate goal was to have a good discussion of industry issues, the big picture was to help formulate policy for the future.

“There are no strings attached to what we can talk about, even if it’s controversial we can talk about it,” Dr Cross said.

“We like to talk about a lot of things with the younger generation in the industry that will end up influencing politics in their time.”

Dr. Cross said Texas is an educational powerhouse in the United States, which is why corporations are keen to fund organizations like ISEF.

“We have 60 universities in this state, so the focus has always been on agriculture education here,” he said.

“One of the largest agricultural universities, Texas A&M, has about 70,000 students and it’s important to make sure they have a good education.”

After a successful International Livestock Congress in 2022, ISEF was stepping up its fundraising campaign with agribusinesses.

Dr Reagan said that while it was difficult to raise funding, he was confident the companies were always going to be successful.

“We had a lot of good feedback on this year’s conference and how we solved some of the industry issues,” he said.

“We are still counting on the companies moving forward and we are confident in our track record.”

Beef Central sent a reporter based in Tamworth Eric Barker in Houston, Texas this month to attend the International Livestock Congress and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – the largest livestock show in the world. His reports have appeared within the last three weeks….

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