SAN ANTONIO – The annual Cattle Industry Convention concluded today with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) board of directors meeting and annual membership meeting. During the meetings, members voted on leadership and policies to ensure the organization’s success in 2010. More than 6,000 people attended this year’s convention in San Antonio, Texas.
Steve Foglesong, owner of Black Gold Ranch in Illinois, was officially elected to succeed Gary Voogt as NCBA’s new president. Foglesong encouraged NCBA members to join him in leading this great industry—and the association—to an even stronger future, by getting engaged in the issues and telling their story to the public, as well as lawmakers in Washington, DC.
“Our industry has a great story to tell,” said Foglesong. “Our numbers may be small, but when each of us engages and makes our voice heard, we are a force to be reckoned with.”
In a landmark vote, the board approved a new organization structure, as presented today by the Governance Task Force. The board also demonstrated confidence in NCBA by voting unanimously to approve a dues increase to help ensure the organization is on sound financial footing. Dues now start at $100 for cow-calf members. Feeder assessments increased from 10 cents to 12.5 cents per head. Earlier in the week, the Allied Industry Council also expressed its support of NCBA by voting to increase its member dues from $17,500 to $25,000.
In addition to structural changes, members approved a number of policy recommendations to guide NCBA efforts in Washington, DC in 2010.
In the area of federal lands, property rights and land management, members approved policy calling for reform of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). While EAJA was established by Congress to ensure that individuals, small businesses or public-interest groups with limited financial resources could seek judicial recourse from unreasonable government actions, a lack of federal oversight has allowed the Act to be abused, particularly by environmental-activist organizations which often target farmers and ranchers under the guise of "public interest." In a six-year period, non-profit environmental groups have filed more than 1,500 lawsuits and in turn the federal government has paid out billions in taxpayer dollars in settlements and legal fees under EAJA and other fee-shifting statutes in cases against the U.S. government.
Also with regards to federal lands, members approved policy to address the growing problem of wild horse and burro over-population, which has contributed to range degradation and reductions in biodiversity and livestock productivity. The policy calls for a comprehensive program—including fertility control, sex ratios, and other humane means of herd reduction—in accordance with the management options authorized to be used by the Bureau of Land Management.
With regard to international markets, members passed policy calling on NCBA to urge Congress to immediately ratify the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA)—one of the most important bilateral trade agreements in the history of the U.S. beef industry. According to South Korean Economic Minister Choi, who addressed attendees at this week’s economic markets committee meeting, U.S. competitors such as Australia are well on their way to finalizing free-trade agreements with Korea, putting U.S. competitiveness at risk for years to come.
In the area of cattle health, NCBA will pursue priorities and strategies regarding both the modification of the National Brucellosis Eradication Program and the eradication of brucellosis from the Greater Yellowstone Area. New policy also directs NCBA to work to maintain producers’ ability to keep their cattle healthy through the use of approved antibiotics.
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.
In other news, former Vice President Bill Donald of Mont. was confirmed as the new president-elect, and former Federation Division Chairman J.D. Alexander of Neb. was elected to succeed Donald as vice president.
Other newly-elected officers include: Scott George, Wyoming, federation division chairman; David Dick, Missouri, federation division vice chairman; Bruce Hafenfeld, California, policy division chairman; and Bob McCan, Texas, policy division vice chairman.
Foglesong ended the convention with his outlook for 2010. Despite the very-real challenges facing the industry—including an over-reaching federal government and increasing attacks by activist groups—he said he’s optimistic about the year ahead
“We have a nation of bright and professional agriculturalists who are ready to meet demand when it rebounds. And we have a noble profession: feeding people here at home, and around the world. This is a job and a lifestyle to be proud of and fight for so we can turn a strong industry and industry association over to our next generation.”
For more convention news, visit: www.beefusa.org.