Boots Within the Beltway
For the past week, 62 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association members from all across the nation, stretching from Hawaii to Virginia, have been partaking in the Young Cattlemen’s Conference. Starting in Denver and traveling across the country to wrap up in Washington, D.C., YCC’s primary objective is to develop leadership qualities in young cattlemen and expose them to all aspects of the beef industry.
“YCC has given me the opportunity to network with other young industry professionals and also learn more about the challenges and opportunities we face on a daily basis as beef producers,” said Zac Hall, cattle rancher from North Dakota.
The tour helps these young leaders understand all areas of our industry ranging from industry structure to issues management, from production research to marketing. Beginning in Colorado, the group visited Cattle-Fax, Cargill, and a JBS Five Rivers feed yard and packing plant. A stop in Chicago meant a visit the Chicago Board of Trade and a tour of OSI, Inc. one of the nation’s premiere beef patty manufacturers. In Washington, D.C., the focus was policy issues facing the industry. After prepping for Hill visits, these 62 cattlemen and women took to the halls of Congress to talk to their U.S. Representatives and Senators about these issues.
By interacting with elected officials and their staff, the cattlemen are able to share how different policy regulations could affect their personal operations and daily farming and ranching activities. Some hot topics they focused their time on this year included: EPA’s proposed rule to redefine Waters of the U.S. in the Clean Water Act, Grazing Improvement Act, Dietary Guidelines, Trans-Pacific Partnership, and USDA proposed rule to import Brazilian beef.
“Raising safe, wholesome and nutritious beef is more complex than the average consumer understands,” said Lauren Scheller, representative from the Arizona Cattle Feeders' Association. “Along with my fellow Arizonan public lands grazer, we are going to focus on public land grazing [Grazing Improvement Act] as it is unique to the West,” she added.
“The redefining of waters of the U.S. is important to focus on because the proposal will actually cause more trouble for cattle producers and it is not feasible way for production agriculture to continue,” Hall said.
Both Hall and Scheller believe that YCC is a life changing and valuable experience.
“YCC provides media training, awareness for social networking and clarity toward different steps of the production chain for beef cattle,” Hall said. “It gives appreciation to those involved, whether or not you have been directly involved in the beef production cycle or if you are an industry affiliate who is learning more about beef production,” he added.
“YCC is a great experience that allows you to get to know everyone across the country and learn about every facet of the beef industry while expanding leadership skills,” Scheller said.