April 25, 2001 | By: Haven Miller

A new federally-funded beef cattle initiative in Kentucky has hired a two-person team. The team will develop and oversee activities for the state's Integrated Resource Management (IRM) program, and will work with local beef producers and county Extension agents.

"In Kentucky, IRM involves working with producers and agents, and developing programs at the grass roots level," said Roy Burris, Extension beef cattle specialist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. "The hiring of these outstanding professionals means we're going to be able to support these programs so that changes occur at the county level and then rise up to area programs and then on up to the state level."

Burris said the initiative is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that Kentucky shares in partnership with Tennessee. The new team consists of Jim Akers, who will coordinate IRM activities, and Jennifer Hunter, who will work with producers on record keeping.

"One of the first things we'll do is to visit counties and share with them our strategic planning concept and help them formulate plans of attack as a group," said Akers. "The groups could be anything from several neighbors on up to a county association, or even an area association, but the idea is that a group has the ability to really effect change."

To improve record keeping the IRM initiative will introduce producers to the CHAPS program which helps them with production records, and the SPA program which stands for Standardized Performance Analysis.

"We want people to start tracking their finances to see where the efficiencies and deficiencies are in their operation," said Hunter. "Our goal is to collect all the data and summarize what producers are doing financially and then create a statewide summary of benchmarks for how Kentucky is doing."

IRM statewide activities will include master cattlemen programs, value-added tours, a Cow College educational workshop for producers, an interactive web site, advanced county agent training sessions, and special meetings such as the recent three-day strategy and planning seminar at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.

"We hope our producers and agents attending the Biltmore trip take the plan they developed there back to their counties and implement it," said Akers. "Some of them will get 100 percent success, some a lower percentage, but the idea is to energize the local people and make things happen at a local level to help increase efficiency and profits."

"IRM is a total approach to solving problems in the beef cattle industry, " said Burris. "It's viewing the program as a whole not just as a single beef cattle operation, and it's bringing people into the process to develop their own solutions. It's about making a change at the local level, and we're just the facilitators and the resource people to help them make it happen."


Roy Burris, 270-365-7541