BY COLLIN GIBBS
Wow! What an experience the 2011 Young Cattlemen’s Conference was. First off, I would like to thank the Research, Education and Endowment Foundation board and the Montana Stockgrowers Association for sponsoring me to go on this year’s conference. Without your support this wouldn’t have been possible.
I wasn’t exactly sure what the YCC trip would encompass when I embarked on it two weeks ago, but I can assure you I was not disappointed. The general outline of the trip is to go and see many different facets of the industry, and try to delve in to a few of it’s complexities. We started out in Denver by meeting with the NCBA staff and other participants, and got to know each other. I have never been able to say that I could walk into a room of sixty strangers and walk out with that many friends, until now. The industry was represented well by people of all professions, ranging from cow/calf, advertising, feed sales to feeders and fat cattle buyers. This was truly an amazing group of people to meet and discuss industry topics with.
After we familiarized and got a feel for what we would be experiencing the next few days, we tore off on an amazing trip from a packing house and feed yard in Colorado, to the Board of Trade and on to Washington D.C., to name a few places. The two biggest highlights for me were OSI, and congressional visits in Washington. To explain further, OSI is a meat packaging facility that deals with ground meat. They primarily process hamburger patties for McDonalds and the sheer volume of beef that they grind there is amazing. That part of the trip really brought home to me, where a large portion of beef ends up in this country. Washington was equally impressive as I had never been there before and actually experienced meetings with representatives and a day in the life of a politician. I have a far deeper respect for the people that are in Washington on our behalf in the beef industry, and was truly impressed by the NCBA staff there.
In closing, I will leave you with a few thoughts provoked by the trip. This industry is truly constantly evolving, and sometimes we all get a little complacent and focus on the here and now instead of on the big picture. I am as guilty of it as the next person. We have a tremendous amount of outside pressures on our industry clamoring for more regulation, consistency, and safety on a product that they really don’t know much about, other than it tastes good. We are in for some volatile times in terms of prices, both on cattle and feedstuffs, and I challenge everyone to be more proactive and call their congressmen, talk to local vendors about new products, and help educate the next generation on the benefits of raising beef. You don’t have to make a monthly trip to D.C., but do what you can. I will reassure you that if you aren’t promoting your livelihood, there is someone out there on the opposite side of the spectrum trying to make it all but impossible for you to do what you do best, produce BEEF! Thanks to the many great sponsors of the trip, and if anyone would like to contact me about the trip, feel free to do so at any time. Have a great summer and keep an ear to the ground.