Ryan Meyer of Winfield, Kan., said a series of experiences from the family farm forward led him to his current place procuring cattle for Creekstone Farms.

“When I was growing up we started calves in our grow yard and sent them out to a feedlots in western Kansas,” he said.

That was his first experience with fed cattle, which at the time were in the early years of marketing on “grids.” Of course, this was the forerunner to the myriad of marketing plans available from branded beef programs today.

When Meyer went to Kansas State University to study agricultural economics, he had the chance to measure the profitability of this method of selling cattle via the good records his family had kept. That really piqued his interest in the beef side of the cattle business, Meyer said.

After an internship at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Meyer ended up at Future Beef for two years. That’s where he learned the intricacies of cattle buying, beef marketing and international trade.

Also, Creekstone began its business in 1998, and four years later began custom slaughtering with Future Beef. The relationships Meyer forged with people at Creekstone in that timeframe eventually led to his current position with that company as head of cattle procurement, contracting and risk management. Meyer went there in March 2003.

The BSE scare that December was a real learning experience for Meyer, he said, and caused his thinking and that of his then-new employer, Creekstone Farms, to begin seeking diversity in markets. Up to that point, a large portion of that company’s business was in export markets. Today Creekstone, although a purveyor of prime beef at heart, sells a wide variety of materials to more than 65 countries, but the majority is sold domestically, he said.

Meyer is concerned about demand destruction from record beef prices the past two years and believes the challenge for the industry will be finding a new balance between consumer-competitive pricing and producer profitability.

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