OTTUMWA — For 49 years the Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference (CCCC) has herded its way to Ottumwa. The two-day conference gives vendors an opportunity to sell their services and for producers and researchers to talk about farming techniques and agricultural-based topics and issues.

Joe Milledge, owner of KIIC radio, chose to partner with CCCC several years ago to get in on the topics and to broaden the conference, by making it “more than just about calves and cows” by allowing attendees to visit different vendors and sit in on agricultural sessions.

Milledge, although not a farmer, loved sitting in on the different sessions which ranged from alternative energy to how technology has advanced farming.

“Farmers are interested in putting solar panels on their farms or wind generators,” he said, “there are farmers who are looking for ways to save money. Technology has changed where you can see how you’re tractor is changing from your phone and determine how much fertilizer to apply to certain areas in your field all the way to monitoring your operations with cameras.”

Zach Thompson, a Vytelle representative, said they work with farmers to double on reproduction for cattle with increased technology, something, he said, more farmers look for.

The primary approach to increased reproduction is through IVF techniques and sustaining from FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormones). Thompson said with the FSH method they can collect oocytes from heifers as young as six months of age, cows as early as 15 days after calving and pregnant cows within the first two trimesters of gestation.

“With this method she can be 30 days after she has a calf or 120 days pregnant,” Thompson explained, “it’s really simple, not invasive. It’s a simple way for guys who wanted to do it but might not have the best facilities.”

Thompson said some farmers have thought about taking on this approach, believing it will help them thrive in their agricultural businesses.

Tom Mastrobuoni, Big Idea Ventures Chief Investment Officer, talked about consumer trends in protein businesses, addressing how it has changed over the years. Mastrobuoni, said consumer product companies are in the business of providing consumers with options, which go hand in hand with convenience and technology.

An issue Mastrobuoni addressed was how animal agriculture can contribute to the GHG footprint.

“When you have companies like Tyson say, ‘we’re committed to reducing our GHG footprint by 30 percent by 2030, Cargill says 25 by 25, Mastrobuoni said, “I think what we’re not saying to what degree the food system is impacting climate change, I think what we’re saying is that there are inefficiencies in every industry whether that’s transportation or the food system.”

Mastrobuoni said talking about agriculture and health based topics and issues can lead to positive change for people and in the agricultural community.

“Folks who are closer to the food system in the middle of the country will land on the traditional raise because they understand the health aspects and health benefits of that food,” he said, “these folks [on the coasts] might get there one day, but they’re not there yet.”

“My partners and I are experts in the food system,” he said, “and that’s what we’re trying to improve.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at


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