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Agricultural Economists Recommend ‘SPA’ for Cattle Producers

By Paul Schattenberg

The Standardized Performance Analysis, or SPA, program is an indispensable tool for helping beef cattle producers determine the production and financial performance of their individual cow-calf enterprise, said the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economists now in charge of the program.

Dr. Rob Hogan and Bill Thompson, AgriLife Extension economists in Uvalde and San Angelo, respectively, have assumed responsibility for the SPA program of Texas A&M University  following the retirement of Stan Bevers, AgriLife Extension economist at Vernon.

“SPA is an analysis tool, not an accounting or production record system,” Hogan said.  “When used as designed, it allows a rancher to measure one cow herd against another, his or her ability as a rancher against a benchmark, or the financial health and stability of a particular cow herd or ranch.”

He said SPA helps identify potential areas for change and measures the producer’s progress in meeting business objectives.

“The standardized analysis facilitates comparisons between production years, producers, production regions and production systems,” Hogan said.

He said when producer data are pooled, individual data are not disclosed but regional performance averages and ranges can be observed. Participating producers are given a “report card” that shows how they rank with other producers in the database.

“In no area of performance evaluation is there a greater need for standardization of terminology and calculation procedures than in the cow-calf  business,” Hogan said.

He said assembling the necessary data is the most important step in the process. SPA data needs include production data, specific cattle inventories and financial data.

“SPA performance measures for cows include measures related to reproduction, production based on exposed females, grazing and raised feed land measures, and marketing and financial performance measures,” he said.

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