Cattlemen’s associations offer chance for growth |

Cattlemen’s associations offer chance for growth

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. Photo courtesy R-CALF USA

Tri-State Livestock News did a Q and A with the three major cattle/beef associations in the country. While each has some key differences, they all have a common theme…. The U.S. cattle industry.

Here’s what we found out:

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, with John Robinson, Executive Director, Organizational Communications

Q: How old is the association?

A: The predecessor organization to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was founded in 1898 and has gone through several changes and mergers over the years. Today, NCBA represents the interests of America’s beef producers and works on behalf of its state partners and individual members across the United States.

Q: How many members does the association have?

A: NCBA has more than 25,000 individual members and several industry organization members. Combined with its state partners, NCBA represents more than 175,000 beef producers from all segments of the beef community.

Q: What is the board of director’s structure?

A: NCBA’s board consists of more than 300 grassroots producer members who are selected and appointed by NCBA state affiliate and beef council partners.

Q: How often does the board meet?

A: The board meets in-person twice each year during the annual Cattle Industry Convention and during the Summer Business Meeting.

Q: Who is the current president?

A: NCBA’s President is Craig Uden, a fourth-generation cattleman from Elwood, Neb. Uden has always been active in helping shape the ever-challenging and changing beef industry. He believes in giving back to an industry that has been good to him, and while he has stepped aside from the day to day management, he still enjoys buying and selling cattle and his customer relations title, because it is the relationships that are built in the cattle industry that make this business so rewarding. People work toward a common goal to improve and learn so that their industry is sustainable for future generations.

Q: Who is the current EVP?

A: NCBA’s Chief Executive Officer is Kendal Frazier, a native of Kansas who has served NCBA and the beef industry for more than three decades.

Q: What are the associations top three priorities for the current administration and upcoming farm-bill?

A: Trade: China – The United States recently shipped U.S. beef to China for the first time in 13 years. There are many good reasons to be optimistic about the long game in China. The opportunity is unbelievable but we have to understand this is a long-term project and we’re committed to building a successful future for U.S. beef in China. But we cannot become complacent about trade. It’s an important cornerstone of our success and we have a great deal of work to do.

Since TPP negotiations were halted, the importance of maintaining our market share in Japan has also gained significance. We are competing in an increasingly competitive global trade environment and our most important trading partners are pursuing agreements with our competitors. Japan has signed an FTA with the European Union and Australia already receives favorable tariff treatment for its beef there. We must work tirelessly to ensure a level playing field for U.S. beef in overseas markets. This also extends to South Korea, where President Trump recently signaled a desire to pull out of the Korea-U.S. (or KORUS) FTA, which would be devastating for our producers. We’ve been working closely with the Administration and Congress to protect access to this important market.

NAFTA is another trade topic we’re watching closely. Renegotiation is a pressing issue because Canada and Mexico are two of our most important markets. We must protect agriculture and beef specifically from being traded out for other interests when the negotiations take place.

WOTUS: We’ve been successful at getting WOTUS rolled back, but we must stay engaged as Congress and the EPA go back to the drawing board to find a solution that’s workable for cattlemen and women. That solution must provide solutions that will address the issues of the agricultural community as a whole. It’s a long road ahead, but the situation looks better than it has for some time.

Tax Reform: Cattlemen and women need certainty when it comes to planning for their future and tax reform is at or near the top of the list of important policy items we will be focused on during the next several months. The Death Tax has long been a priority for our members and we are committed to finding a permanent fix for the problem that continues to plague the agricultural industry.

We have already started work on the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is vitally important for U.S. cattlemen and women. NCBA believes that the Farm Bill must include a strong research title to ensure that we remain as efficient and competitive as we can be in producing beef. It also needs a strong conservation title to protect programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which have been very successful in helping producers do even more to protect our resources. The Farm Bill should also maintain policy that supports a free, open, and private marketplace, as well as a robust and preventative animal health program – including a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank to respond to any potential outbreaks.

Q: What are the top three challenges the beef industry is currently facing?

A: The beef industry is constantly challenged by several issues, but the top three would be the constant overreach and overly burdensome regulations of the government. Although the Trump Administration has done a good job of rolling back some of the most pressing issues, there is still a great deal of work to be done to protect the future of American agriculture.

As mentioned previously, the tax environment is also a major challenge for beef producers. Uncertain tax regulations create an environment where planning for the future is very difficult. As members of the producer population age and young people look for opportunities to return home, that uncertainty hampers the success of the beef community. We must create an environment where every family that wants to pass the operation to future generations has the ability to pass along a thriving ranch that is facing a stable regulatory and tax environment.

Finally, activists pose one of the most significant threats to beef production in the United States. We’ve also seen organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States push ballot measures that mandate production practices and limit the freedom of beef producers to operate responsibly. In recent years, we’ve seen their tactics expand and there’s an alarming trend of animal rights activists and environmentalists embedding themselves in producer organizations or establishing their own organizations to undermine cattlemen and women. By infiltrating these organizations, they are able to press interests and ideas that are contrary to the best interests and traditions of the American cattlemen and women. It’s crucial that everyone understand the motivations and true intent of the organizations they support.

R-CALF USA, with Bill Bullard, CEO

Q: How old is the association?

A: The name R-CALF was first used in 1998 when a group of ranchers raised money to file an anti-dumping case against Canada and Mexico. The R-CALF USA association was officially formed as a membership-based association one-year later, in 1999.

Q: How many members does the association have?

A: R-CALF USA has approximately 5,000 members in 43 states.

Q: What is the board of director’s structure?

A: R-CALF USA divided the United States into 14 regions based on cattle populations and reserved one at-large region to represent Native American ranchers who control a significant percentage of the nation’s beef cow herd. Thus, R-CALF USA has 15 directors on its board all of whom are cattle owners. Board members are elected by members who reside within their respective regions. The board then appoints a board president, vice president, treasurer and secretary from among its board members, so the president is appointed by the board rather than being elected by the entire membership.

Q: How often does the board meet?

A: The board typically meets monthly via teleconference call with one face-to-face meeting held at the beginning of its annual membership meeting.

Q: Who is the current president?

A: Bryan Hanson, co-owner of Fort Pierre Livestock Auction and a cow-calf producer from Fort Pierre, South Dakota, is R-CALF USA’s Region III Director and he is the current president of the R-CALF USA board. Bryan’s mentor was the late Johnny Smith, one of the original co-founders of R-CALF USA. Johnny Smith and Bryan’s dad, Dennis Hanson, helped to build the R-CALF USA organization since its inception. Bryan is following in their footsteps.

Q: Who it the current EVP?

A: R-CALF USA does not have an executive vice president. Instead, it has a full-time CEO. Bill Bullard is the CEO of R-CALF USA and has held that position since early 2001. Bullard is a former cow/calf producer from Perkins County, South Dakota, and he served as the executive director of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission for nearly 6 years. Bullard is R-CALF USA’a registered lobbyist and he has testified on behalf of R-CALF USA members before Congress and before executive branch agencies.

Q: What are the association’s top three priorities for the current administration and upcoming farm-bill?

A: R-CALF USA’s top three priorities for the current administration are: 1) Bring back mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) to stop meatpackers from undercutting America’s ranchers with cheap, undifferentiated imports. 2) Give America’s ranchers their markets back by either breaking up the beef packing cartel or by imposing strict rules of competition to stop their unfair, monopolistic cattle-buying practices. 3) Renegotiate more balanced trade agreements so America’s ranchers are no longer forced to absorb other countries’ overproduction nor risk importing other countries’ cattle diseases.

Q. What are the top three challenges the beef industry is currently facing?

A. Top three challenges for the cattle industry are: 1) the inability for consumers to differentiate beef produced exclusively from USA cattle from imported beef. As a result, consumers cannot choose to support American ranchers by purchasing American beef. 2) the cattle market is an oligopoly with just 4 packers controlling 85 percent of all fed cattle. This level of market concentration is widely known by economists to elicit poor economic performance and anticompetitive conduct, both of which are now adversely affecting the competitiveness of the United States’ cattle market. 3) Cattle producers are forced to fund organizations that are fighting against their financial interests. For example, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) that led the fight to repeal COOL and that opposes reforms to reduce the meatpacker’s buying power receives about $40 million per year from the government-mandated national beef checkoff program that all producers are required by law to pay.

United States Cattlemen’s Association, with Lia Biondo, Communications Director

Q: How old is the association?

A: USCA was founded in 2007 as an organization based on the grassroots principle that cattlemen can work with their representatives in local, state and federal government to bring forth producer-driven and producer-inspired solutions.

Q: How many members does the association have?

A: USCA has members nationwide; through our affiliates, we reach every corner of the U.S.

Q: What is the board of director’s structure?

The Board of Directors is structured into regions, with each region assigned one representative. The Board is also composed of an affiliate seat, the Director Emeritus and our officers team, which includes our President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Parliamentarian, and Past President.

The regions are divided as follows:

Region I: Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii

Region II: California and Nevada

Region III: Arizona and New Mexico

Region IV: Utah, Wyoming and Colorado

Region V: Texas

Region VI: Montana and Idaho

Region VII: Nebraska and Iowa

Region VIII: Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma

Region IX: Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama

Region X: North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota

Region XI: Florida and Georgia

Region XII: West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina

Region XIV: Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois

Region XV: Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island

Region XVI: Native American Reservations

Q: How often does the board meet?

A: The board meets monthly by conference call. Officers meet monthly before the board call.

Q: Who is the current president?

A: USCA’s current president is Kenny Graner from Mandan, North Dakota.

In his own words: “My family and I are fourth generation ranchers, residing on the family ranch 15 miles south of Mandan in Morton County, North Dakota. My wife and four children operate a Purebred Commercial Angus Herd, producing high quality replacement heifer calves and feeder steers. We also produce wheat, barley, corn, flax, and alfalfa. I got involved in 2005 when I saw that there wasn’t a voice for independent cattle producers on labeling, fair trade deals, and Checkoff reform in North Dakota. I am also one of the founding members and Past President of the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND), an affiliate of USCA. USCA has always had a strong presence in Washington D.C. for independent cattle producers. As a member, USCA encouraged and advocated to take our message to DC. And I’ve experienced the results first hand that it truly makes a difference.”

Q: Who it the current EVP?

A: USCA is led by Jess Peterson, Kelly Fogarty, and Lia Biondo. USCA staff works with the BOD and officers team to guide USCA’s daily activities and focus on its key issues in D.C. and across the countryside.

Q: What are the association’s top three priorities for the current administration and upcoming farm-bill?

A: USCA works tirelessly and strategically for only one policy priority: strengthening the bottom line of the U.S. cattle producer. From working towards fair and balanced trade agreements to reestablishing country-of-origin labeling to protecting the health of the domestic herd, everything we do is to ensure the viability of our industry and your bottom line.

Specific priorities focus on a delay in the implementation of Electronic Log Devices (ELD) and addressing necessary changes to Hours of Service for livestock haulers; continued opposition to beef imports from Brazil; ensuring all future trade agreements and negotiations take into account the perishable and cyclical nature of our product, while allowing for appropriate safeguards and snap-back provisions; reestablishing accurate origin labels; and addressing volatility in the marketplace.

USCA will be urging support for Tile II or the “conservation title” in the Farm Bill, in addition to ensuring that Title I “the disaster assistance title” is maintained and properly funded. USCA helped write and pass the disaster provisions within the current Farm Bill – whether it was the Atlas Blizzard that raised havoc in South Dakota, the fires this past spring in KS, OK, CO and TX, the fires in MT and the West or the hurricanes in Texas. USCA will also be urging reform of the Beef Checkoff within the upcoming Farm Bill

Q: What are the top three challenges the beef industry is currently facing? And how is the association addressing them.

A: The next big thing is already here and the beef industry has to ask itself – is it ready for it? The top three challenges facing the industry are the need to continue ushering in the next generation of producers and consumers, providing more information to consumers and ensuring the health of the domestic cattle herd.

USCA has spent the last decade setting the course for a future – not just 5, 10 or 15 years down the road but for the entire century ahead. The next generation is already actively engaged in agriculture. Changes are taking place in farming and ranching as families are transitioning roles and parts of the operation to sons and daughters, and in some instances, grandsons and granddaughters. Future generations being born today will live to see the turn of the century. USCA has developed a set of principles that will take the association and its members successfully into the years ahead. We’ve created the Cattle Producer’s Forum as the stage with which to have these conversations. This year, we’ll be in Billings, Montana on September 16th to address how producers can capitalize on a changing industry.

USCA continues to support and advocate for country of origin labeling. Today’s consumers want more information on where their food comes from, not less. As an industry, we will be left behind if we don’t address this head on and once again establish clear and accurate origin labeling information. We know U.S. cattle producers grow the safest, highest-quality, most sustainable beef in the world and we want to market that.

Ensuring the health of the U.S. cattle herd means ensuring that our trade agreements don’t expose our herds to unnecessary risks. USCA was successful in shutting down imports from Brazil due to tainted meat and we will continue to oppose imports from this country due to ongoing FMD threats.

USCA remains active across the countryside and in Washington, D.C. and we are proud to represent our members in front of Congress and the Administration.

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