New NCBA President Ready for Challenge

Randall Weiseman Cattle, Livestock

Gary Voogt, a cattle producer from western Michigan, officially took over as President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association this past weekend during the 2009 Cattle Industry Convention, who told me he’s ready for the challenge.

NCBA Members Elect New Officers, Set 2009 Policy Directives

PHOENIX, Ariz. (January 31, 2009) – Members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) held their board of directors meeting and annual membership meeting today as the 2009 Cattle Industry Annual Convention concluded in Phoenix. This year’s convention and trade show was attended by approximately 5,300 people.

Gary Voogt of Mich. was officially elected to succeed Andy Groseta as NCBA president for the coming year. Voogt praised members for a successful conference. “I’m so pleased with the high level of participation we’ve had this week,” he said. “Our discussions have been extremely productive and will no doubt set us on a path for success in 2009 and beyond.”

Cattle producer discussions during the convention resulted in a number of policy directives and recommendations for 2009.

In the area of Cattle Health and Well Being, members engaged in a productive conversation with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regarding an updated and workable approach to animal disease programs, particularly bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis. They also discussed the severe exacerbation of disposal issues producers are already experiencing due to the enhanced feed ban, months before it even goes into effect. Finally, members reaffirmed the industry’s commitment to humane care and handling of cattle.

Federal Lands committee members resolved to encourage local, state, and federal agencies to consider livestock grazing as the first solution for fuel load reduction in order to reduce wildfire potential and improve livestock and wildlife habitat.

Agricultural Policy members resolved to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act and any other effort that would take away an employee’s right to privacy. Specifically, the resolution expresses opposition to: allowing a Card Check system instead of secret ballot voting to organize a union; forcing collective bargaining upon businesses and their employees; and requiring forced arbitration to determine wages and benefits without ratification vote by employees.

Also under agriculture policy, members voted to amend current policy with respect to the Beef Checkoff Program to allow promotion of U.S. beef and ensure the program remains fair, cost-efficient, and coordinated in order to achieve long range goals.

With regard to international markets policy, members resolved to increase the age restriction for trade with Japan from 20 months to 30 months. The current age restriction into Japan is limiting American producers to about 25% of our potential sales there, which means U.S. beef producers are still missing out on $1 billion in exports annually.

All policies adopted are now subject to approval by more than 30,000 NCBA members nationwide. Convention results will become official after a mail-in ballot process concludes in March.

Members also voted on new officers for the upcoming year. In addition to Voogt’s election as president, Steve Fogelsong of Ill. was chosen as NCBA president-elect, and Bill Donald of Mont. was elected as NCBA’s Vice President.

Newly-elected officials to the NCBA Executive Committee include: J.D. Alexander (Neb.), Chairman, Federation Division; Scott George (Wyo.), Vice Chairman, Federation Division; Eric Smith (Ala.), Chairman, Policy Division; Tracy Brunner (Kan.), Vice Chairman, Policy Division.

The following individuals were elected as Federation Division Representatives to the Beef Promotions Operating Committee: David Dick (Mo.), Becky Walth (S.D.), Linda Joy Stovall (Texas), Tamara Ogilvie (N.M.), Craig Uden (Neb.), David Hamilton (Neb.), Helen Weise (Iowa), and Chuck Adami (Wis.).

NCBA members also honored two industry leaders who passed away in 2008, Lynn Cornwell and Steve Hailey. Their lives have touched many people in the beef industry, and they will be greatly missed by all who knew them.

Members bid farewell to Terry Stokes and celebrated his distinguished career as NCBA CEO. Stokes recently stepped down after 13 years of service, handing over the reigns to Forrest Roberts.

“While we will all miss Terry greatly, we’re looking forward to a new and exciting chapter with Forrest at the helm,” continued Groseta. “I’m confident that Forrest’s wealth of experience, fresh ideas, and intense passion for the industry will raise this organization to even new heights.”

Roberts laid out some of his priorities for the coming year, including his commitment to growing domestic beef demand, expanding access to foreign markets, and protecting the U.S. beef industry from actions that could impede a favorable business climate.

Voogt closed the convention with his outlook for 2009. “These are challenging times, but now is not the time to change course,” he said. He cited recent successes, including a 6.7 percent increase in membership over the past year, as well as the approval by the Board of Directors of a new and improved governance structure for NCBA. “Our association is the oldest, largest, and most successful national organization of cattle producers. By continuing to speak with a unified voice and our mutual goal of increasing profitability, the U.S. beef industry is sure to continue prospering for years to come.”

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