The Human-Human Interface

Top Ten Technology Picks from the National Western Show

The National Western Stock Show is a hundred years old, but really more than that. It was the trail destination for cowboys driving their cattle from the range to the railroad, for shipment to the slaughterhouses in Chicago and hungry customers beyond. The agricultural/ranching sector is relatively small in our economy, but still feeding us and a portion of the world. Looking at this show with technology eyes, here’s what I found.

    E-Bay’s got nothing on these guys. Cattle, historically the first auction item (?), on-line at last.
  2. Y-Tex RFID Products
    An ISO compliant RFID tag to provide each head of cattle a unique code, plus a rugged field reader that can automatically upload data into the BeefLink software on your PC.
  3. National Animal Identification System
    Brought to you by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, to track mad cow disease and other illnesses to their source animals. They were at the Show to get ranchers to register their premises. Next thing you know they’ll be grabbing your guns.Honorable Mention – North Dakota State University mobile lab for “fighting livestock disease and bioterrorism.” E.g. RF tracking of animals with ear tags (see 2 above). It’s “part of a $1.25 million federally funded “agrosecurity” involving several universities. Can you say, “pork barrel”?
  4. Genex Cooperative
    Not so much the technology for selective breeding but for the merger and acquisition activity as follows:
    Cooperative Resources International (CRI), headquartered at Shawano, Wis., is a member-owned holding cooperative formed in 1993. At that time, it was the nation’s first direct link between a dairy herd improvement (DHI) organization, Wisconsin Dairy Herd Improvement Cooperative (now AgSource Cooperative Services), and a provider of artificial insemination (AI) services, 21st Century Genetics (now Genex Cooperative, Inc.). Since its formation, CRI has undergone several changes. In January 1995, Noba, Inc., Tiffin, Ohio, a cattle breeding cooperative, became the third CRI subsidiary. Noba and 21st Century Genetics had been working together under a marketing agreement since late 1993. In July 1995, the AI partners of Federated Genetics, headquartered at Ithaca, N.Y., along with 21st Century and Noba, began representing each other in their respective marketing areas. Then, early in 1996, the members of CRI and Federated Genetics voted to have Federated become the fourth CRI subsidiary. Simultaneously, the delegates of the Federated partners voted to merge and change the name of their organization to Genex Cooperative, Inc. Genex became a part of CRI on April 1, 1996. On March 20, 1999, members of Central Livestock Association (CLA), a livestock marketing cooperative headquartered at South St. Paul, Minn., voted to join CRI as a subsidiary. Following a positive vote by CRI delegates, CLA became a CRI subsidiary April 1, 1999. At the same time, the CRI delegates voted to consolidate the three AI subsidiaries into a single organization to be called Genex Cooperative, Inc.
  5. Flying H Genetics
    Another breeding operation, featuring Calf ID and Marketing Programs, Carcass and Performance Data, and the GelPLUS product:
    GelPLUS is a scientifically proven, rancher accepted, feeder friendly package of superior genetics that uses two or more breeds to maintain heterosis, yet simplify breeding management. GelPLUS cattle are built to meet your ranch’s specific needs.
  6. Universal Semen Sales
    The right stuff from more than a thousand sires. What I like though is, like any good technology company, they got gear:
  7. Cyagra
    The leader in bovine cloning. “Fee for producing one healthy cloned calf – guaranteed – $10,000 in advanced, $9,000 upon delivery. Advance returned if Cyagra fails to produce a cloned calf.”
  8. Infovets
    Your online source for animal health care.
  9. Nikken Magsteps
    Magnetic insoles for a comfortable foot massage all day long, plus “evenly distributed magnetic coverage over an entire surface…”scientific research” shows progress in treating pain associated with diabetes.” Why was this at the stock show? Same reason as funnel cakes.
  10. Eggs Across America
    It’s actually not a technology so much as a marketing slogan of the American Egg Board, and it’s no Got Milk?, but hey, it’s kinda catchy.This was all agricultural, but focused on ranching rather than farming. In the news this week, Monsanto, chemical company turned agribusiness giant, is suing family famers. The crime? Planting seeds saved from the previous year’s crop. A 10,000 year old practice, but now illegal thanks to contracts signed with Monsanto for their genetically engineered seeds that are Roundup-ready, resistant to the weed killer that makes some farming more efficient and cheaper due to lower labor for weeding.

    Another honorable mention: Pro Rodeo Not just an athletic performance by cowboys (and part-time cowboys; others are part-time tractor salesmen), but also a pageant of God, Country and other Traditional Values, brought to you by Dodge Trucks and Coors Beer.