2008 NCBA Coverage

Highlights from the 2008 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Convention & Tradeshow held Feb. 5-9 in Reno, NV

New NCBA officers include: Andy Groseta, a Cottonwood, AZ rancher; Gary Voogt, Marne, MI, president-elect; and Steve Foglesong, Astoria, IL, vice president. Bill Donald, Melville, MT, is the NCBA Policy Division chairman, while Alan Albright, Lytton, IA, is the new Federation Division chairman.

New leadership for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which administers the checkoff, includes: Dave Bateman, Oregon, IL, chairman; Lucinda Williams, Hatfield, MA, vice chairman; and Dan Dierschke, Austin, TX, secretary/treasurer.

Yolo Land & Cattle Co. operated by the Hank Stone family of Woodland, CA, were named the 2008 Environmental Stewardship Award Program national winner.

Representing NCBA’s Region VI, the operation competed against five other regional winners for the national recognition. The award, now in its 17th year, is sponsored by National Cattlemen’s Foundation, NCBA, Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Among the other regional honorees were: Region I, Sunrise Club Calves, Shippenville, PA; Region II, Dee River Ranch, Aliceville, AL; Region III, Oak Knoll Ranch, Salem, MO; Region IV, Roaring Springs Ranch, Frenchglen, OR; and Region VI, Alexander Ranch, Sun City, KS.

The 2008 Beef Industry Vision Awards, presented by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, were awarded in six categories:

• Cow-calf – Robert Bruner, Bruner Angus Ranch, Huntsville, TX. • Feeding – Paul Engler, Cactus Feeders, Amarillo, TX; and James Herring, Friona Feedyard, Amarillo, TX.

• Livestock market – Jackie Moore and Steve Owens, Joplin Regional Stockyards, Joplin, MO. • Retail – H-E-B, San Antonio, TX.

• Packer/processor – Eldon Roth, Beef Products, Inc., Dakota Dunes, SD.

The Vision Award, sponsored by Micro Beef Technologies, recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations in the cattle industry that innovate in an effort to enhance not only their business, but also the industry as a whole. Nominees were evaluated on effective use of technology, impact on production costs, ingenuity of implementation, innovative marketing, impact on the industry and optimum resource management.

The National Beef Backer Award in foodservice recognizes chain and independent restaurant operators who excel in menuing and marketing beef. More than 8.66 billion lbs. of beef were served in the foodservice channel in 2007. Among the honorees were:

• Independent − Cherry Valley Country Club, Skillman, NJ.
• Chain − Logan’s Roadhouse, Nashville, TN.
• Innovator of the Year − The Rex Restaurant & Bar, Billings, MT. Meanwhile, winners of the first annual National Retail Beef Backer® Awards included: • Chain (11+ stores) – Harris Teeter (166 stores), based in Matthews, NC.
• Independent (fewer than 11 retail stores) – Foodmaster Supermarkets (10 stores), based in Chelsea, MA.
• Innovator –The Kroger Company (2,400 stores), based in Cincinnati, OH and recognized for its launch of the Flat Iron Steak.

NCBA’s Veal Council unveiled four new veal cuts designed for the casual-theme foodservice segment to help increase veal demand nationwide. These cuts complement the five cuts introduced last year under the Veal Optimization Study.

The four new cuts include: the Osso Bucco for Two, Double-Bone Veal Chop, Tuscan Style Veal Chop and Boneless Osso Bucco. For more, visit www.veal store.com.

These four cuts more fully utilize the veal square cut chuck,” says Mike Lemler, vice chairman of the Veal Council and a California veal marketer.

Members address checkoff hike

NCBA members voted to direct the association to ask Congress to approve a process that will allow producers to vote on enhancements to the beef checkoff program.

“Twenty plus years of inflation have really eroded the beef checkoff’s ability to fulfill all the expectations we have placed on it over the years,” said NCBA President John Queen, a Waynesville, NC cattleman. “And increases in beef production have come primarily from higher cattle weights, rather than herd expansion. That’s another reason revenues don’t keep up with the industry’s needs. We’re producing more beef, but the revenue we need to market it doesn’t keep pace.”

NCBA Policy Division Chairman Bill Donald, a rancher from Melville, MT, added: “All we’re asking Congress to do is empower cattle producers with a referendum process, so they can control the destiny of their checkoff. Producers will decide whether to increase the checkoff assessment, but this will put the procedure in place that allows them to do that.”

NCBA members declined to ask for a specific increase in the checkoff rate, but agreed that an increase to $2/head (a $1 increase) “would adequately fund the program at this point in time.” Any increase in the $1/head rate would require action by Congress to amend the Beef Promotion and Research Act.

Members also proposed:
• Simplifying the petition process that determines whether a referendum on continuation of the checkoff will be held. A valid petition signed by 10% of the nation’s cattle producers would trigger USDA to hold a referendum within one year.

• Establishing a similar petition/referendum process for future increases in the checkoff assessment. This would allow cattlemen to approve or disapprove a proposed increase, without taking the question back to Congress.

• Eliminating any reference to their charter date in determining whether organizations are eligible to manage checkoff- funded programs. Currently, some livestock organizations are not eligible because they were formed after 1986.

• NCBA members also discussed whether the checkoff should be used to specifically promote U.S. born and raised beef.

Currently, U.S. beef is specifically pro- moted only in foreign markets, while domestic programs promote all beef. This is due in part to the fact that as- sessments on imported cattle and beef account for about 11% (roughly $8 mil- lion/year) of checkoff revenues.

Other NCBA membership actions:
Renewable fuels – members favor a sunset of the 54¢ tariff on imported ethanol and the 51¢/gal. fuel-blending tax credit. These programs are set to ex- pire in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Animal ID – Members support a voluntary, market-based approach to an- imal ID. But member policy was updat- ed to recognize the legitimate benefits that premises registration can provide in meeting animal health emergency re- quirements – as long as they do not im- pede normal cattle movement.

Veterinarian shortage – Members adopted policy supporting educational and financial aid programs to help ad- dress a growing national shortage of large-animal vets.

Paul Hitch feted

NCBA members honored Paul Hitch, a cattleman and longtime live- stock industry leader from Guymon, OK, for his industry service. Set to be- come president of NCBA this year, Hitch stepped down due to health problems. To learn more, see “The Man Who Would Be President” in February BEEF.

Addressing the cattle-industry audience, Hitch invoked New York Yankee legend Lou Gehrig. Diagnosed with the fatal disease that would later bear his name, Gehrig gave an emotional farewell speech to a Yankee Stadium crowd, say- ing, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

“I always thought that was odd – I thought Lou Gehrig was insane,” Hitch told the crowd. “But today, I know that Paul Hitch Lou Gehrig was the luckiest man in the world. Because today I am the luckiest man in the world, because I have you. You make me the luckiest man in the world, and I thank you for it.”

Barbara Jackson, Tucson, AZ, was named the American National CattleWomen’s 2007 Outstanding CattleWoman of the Year. New American National CattleWomen of- ficers include: Fita Witte, Belen, NM, president; Kristy Lage, Arthur, NE, pres- ident-elect; and Lana Slaten, Cullman, AL, vice president.