Category Archives: Cattle Marketing

The Evolution of Cattle Production: Why Consumers Can’t Have the iPhone 5, Sprawling Suburbs and the Pitchforked Farmer Too

BY AMINA BENNETT, Wife and Mother near Chicago, IL

Originally published Oct. 3, 2013: 

The iPhone 5s was just released a few days ago, excited consumers across the nation eagerly waited hours (even overnight) for Apple stores to open in anticipation of getting their hands on the newest Apple technology. The iPhone 5s now boasts a larger screen, Touch ID, a faster operating system and enhanced camera features. Technology in communication is widely embraced, new inventions are encouraged, and consumers are eager to evolve with the changing times. That said, I think it’s safe to say that I would be an anomaly if I walked down the street with a vintage phone…


or a cell phone circa 1983…

Yup…they once looked like this!

So why is it that the same eagerness to evolve with the changing times, which is so apparent in the communications industry, not exhibited for the agricultural industry? In a recent visit to the Larson Farm, Farmer Mike Martz made mention that he felt as though society wanted him to “farm like how his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had farmed in years passed.” But with an increasing population, more urban sprawl (which leads to less farmland), and fewer farms to spread the labor (as future generations of farmers opt out of the family business), why are Americans unwilling to let farming evolve with the times?

While I haven’t got the answers to why some folks are so unyielding to the evolution of agriculture, I can only address the 5 fears that I once touted as the big WHY. And it goes a little something like this…

1. No Feedlots Please, I prefer my cattle roaming and grazing
As a Midwest city girl I always assumed that land outside of the city lights (and suburban sprawl) was sufficient enough to raise tons of cattle for grazing and roaming. But with the growing population and constant building outside of the city limits we’re encroaching upon farmland and animal habitats. Even coyotes have decided that since they can’t beat our burgeoning population that they’re going to join us here in the city. So when it comes to raising enough cattle to feed a large population, cattle feedlots are in response to the need for more livestock within a smaller farm area.

2. I don’t want my family consuming extra hormones; I’malready portly AND I want my kids to look like kids!
Sure, hormones are implanted into the ear of cattle to increase their size during their last few months of life, but according to the FDA, “all approved implant products have a zero day withdrawal. This means that the meat from the animal farm is safe for humans to eat at any time after the animal is treated.” In addition, the ears are discarded before the animal is slaughtered.

Furthermore, because I’m a believer in the power of statistical information, here’s a couple stats to give you some perspective on hormone use in cattle:

Organic Beef = 1.4 nanograms of estrogen hormone per 3 oz of meat
Conventional Beef = 1.9 nanograms of estrogen hormone per 3 oz of meat 
Potatoes = 225 nanograms of estrogen hormone (occurring naturally) per average sized potato
Birth Control Pills (at the lowest dose) = 20,000 nanograms per pill  

M&M visual of hormone dosages compliments of the Larson Farm
 Left to Right: Organic, Conventional, Baked Potato, Birth Control Pill

3. I don’t want to consume antibiotics when I’m not even sick!
Well, if you’ve followed my farming posts thus far, then you’ve got an idea on what I’ve learned about antibiotics. If you haven’t, check it out a here! But suffice it to say that at the Larson Farm, sick cattle are tagged, removed and then tested. The sick cattle are then kept 2 weeks later than when they are “technically” safe to sell as an added precaution. Antibiotics are not permitted on the meat market.

4. All feedlot farms (especially CAFO’s) are inhumane and mistreating their cattle 
Just a bit of clarification here. A feedlot is an area or building where livestock are fed or fattened up. A CAFO is a concentrated animal “production process that concentrates large numbers of animals in relatively small and confined spaces, and that substitutes structures and equipment (for feeding, temperature controls and manure management) for land and labor.” The Larson Farm is considered a CAFO (due to the number of cattle housed) and as a result, the farm undergoes a required certification every 3 years by the EPA.

While visiting the Larson Farm I didn’t witness any signs of animal abuse (no excessive mooing, cow bullying-yes it happens amongst cattle too, and no fear of people). I don’t believe anyone these days is naive to the mistreatment of animals in the farming industry, but what I can attest to is that not ALL farmers treat their animals cruelly. In fact, cruelty is not a matter of size or conventional versus organic. It’s a matter of the moral fiber of the farmer raising the animal. Which brings me to my next point…

5. I don’t want my food coming off of an assembly line!
Since when did being organized get a bad rap?!?! In fact, it’s when systems are not in place where all good intentions go to hell. Ever heard of Temple Grandin?

Temple Grandin is an autistic woman who transformed the livestock industry by inventing improvements to the animal handling systems found on ranches, farms and meat plants. She is most known for the center-track restraint system that is widely used across North America.

Cows enter and exit the center-track system here


Top of center-track system which prevents cows from backing up and flipping over one another
Gentle “Hug” which calms the cattle immediately so that the ultrasound tech can check marbling and fat levels
Her invention decreases and eliminates the fear and pain animals experience when they are being handled and eventually slaughtered. You see, the successful management of large numbers of animals requires advanced engineering and forethought to prevent falls, crippling injuries and untimely death. Kudos to Larson Farms for incorporating this ingenious system into their farming processes. By the way…it’s composed entirely of scrap metal!  
As our world continues to evolve, our food industry has to adapt alongside of it. In practical terms, with millions more people on the earth, the days of free roaming animals that eat off of the land, and farmers driving horse-drawn plows… are gone. With farmers being charged with feeding more than just their family and their town, and with less space to do it, farmers (although still good stewards of the land) are seeking efficient and effective ways to raise livestock and cultivate the land within the changing times. Everything must evolve, just as the iPhone 5s will soon give way to the iPhone 6… 
…it’s just a matter of time. 

Are you still envisioning the pitch-forked farmers of the past? Do you believe that the agricultural industry should evolve with the times?

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BEEF, Great for the Heart… and the Soul


We know that lean beef is part of a heart-healthy diet, but the benefits of this “power protein” go far beyond the dinner plate.

This year the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association celebrated the 31st annual Governor’s Charity Steer Show at the Iowa State Fair. The show has become a long-standing tradition at the fair, and is the result of months of hard-work and collaboration between  industry sponsors that purchase the steers, the youth that raise them, and the local celebrities that volunteer their time to participate in the event.

Ronald McDonald and Craig Hill, the president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, with the Grand Champion Steer.

Ronald McDonald, IFBF president, Craig Hill, and Shanee Tate with her Grand Champion steer.

Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, and many other celebrities from across the state lead the 25 steers around the ring, vying for the championship ribbon and showmanship award. Following the show, the steers were auctioned off with the proceeds from each sale going to charity. Since its inception back in 1983, the show has raised more than $2 million for the Ronald McDonald Houses of Iowa, which provides a “home away from home” for families of seriously ill children being treated in near-by hospitals.

This year’s Grand Champion steer, “Farm Bureau Pride,” was raised by Shanee Tate from Renwick, Iowa. The steer was sponsored by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, and shown by IFBF President, Craig Hill. Following the close of the auction, a record-breaking $185,339 had been raised, which will be divided amongst the three Ronald McDonald Houses in the state. The Governor’s Charity Steer Show is just another great demonstration of agriculture’s continued support for Iowa families.

About the author: Elizabeth is a third-year student at Drake Law School, working on her Juris Doctorate specializing in Agricultural Law, and is a member of the Iowa Beef Advocate Network . She was born and raised on a small family farm in eastern Iowa, and holds a B.S. in Agricultural Business and International Agriculture from Iowa State University.


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Beef Ambassador: Montana’s Allie Nelson

BY ALLIE NELSON, Montana Beef Ambassador

1015724_672906549402851_1594969279_oMy name is Allie Nelson and I come from small town southeast of Great Falls, Montana. Right now, I serve as the Montana Beef Ambassador and I am honored to have this title. I have been showing cattle for about seven years and the beef industry is my passion. The person who inspired me to be involved with agriculture and the community was definitely my grandpa. My “Nana” and “Papa” owned one of the largest Hereford ranches in North Dakota. Papa inspired me to do what I love, and to do it well…especially if it involves the beef industry!
As the Montana Beef Ambassador, I don’t necessarily have a specific job. My personal goal as the ambassador is to be available to consumers to answer their questions and correct any misinformation they might have about beef and ranching. If we are going to make a difference in education, it is very important we are were the consumers are…therefore, I have been trying to have an appearance at state events like fairs and speak to elementary students in their classrooms.
935257_561144397241335_1353883232_nI am lucky to have Elizabeth Armstrong, the junior Montana Beef Ambassador, on my team as well. She and I have given talks at to two schools about beef byproducts, attended the Montana Cattlewomen meeting, and have had a delegation meeting with a group of folks from Khasakstan who came to America to discover agriculture in our communities. We have quite a busy summer planned with attending a Montana Farmer’s Union Camp, speaking at multiple fairs, and attending various events and activities.
I am so thrilled to be serving as the Montana Beef Ambassador! I will head to Springdale, Arkansas for an opportunity to obtain a National office as a National Beef Ambassador later this year. We are selling t-shirts to raise funds to make it to Springdale. If you would like one, please check out the Montana Beef Ambassador facebook page for more information and pictures!


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YPC? Is that some sort of rap music group?



Hadoop, Mustache, Java? Exabyte, Zettabyte, and Yottabyte! Excuse me, but did you just say, “Crazy Horse and a creature from Star Wars, were drinking from a Hadoop, and Crazy Horse got coffee on his mustache?” You’ve gotta be kidding me, right?

Have you ever pondered the thought of “what exactly, is the internet?” It’s location, it’s infrastructure, how much it weighs? This “Twilight Zone” phenomena can strike fear into the imagination. To others, a simple blue and black, Linksys router with dual antennas, nestled dust-covered and blinking behind a couch comes to mind. All physicalities aside, what the internet really is, is life. Without it CattleFax and risk management would cease to coexist, Safeway and Cargill couldn’t produce Rancher’s Reserve branded beef, and the screens of Superior Livestock would look like millions of diminutive marching ants. Yet we as a nation, as individuals, know so little about the single most intrusive and important aspect of our lives.

526603_10151498903705572_2091434363_nINTERDISCIPLINARY DEGREES

I recently read an article by Tom Friedman in the New York Times aptly named: Need a Job? Invent it. From within the neatly formatted web page, Friedman notes “My generation had it easy. We got to ‘find’ a job. But, more than ever, our kids will have to ‘invent’ a job.” Sound like an accurate prediction? I’d bet the farm on it! With modern technology controlling the show at every corner of the ranch, simply “finding” a job will become harder and harder to do as we compete against more and more technology. Smart tractors will replace the need for an operator, precise data accounting systems will eliminate office receptionists, and advanced algorithms will lock in profit margins at a predetermined price point, eliminating both the cell phone call to your broker, and eventually the broker himself.

In 2011, after graduating from TCU Ranch Management I yearned for more education, which lead me to The University of Montana. It was at Montana that I was introduced to Management Information Systems, a degree I’m certain will change my life forever. Over the last three semesters I have learned how to program computers, talk to databases, create amazing videos for YouTube (the second largest search engine behind Google), optimize websites with Search Engine Optimization, and precisely target Facebook users with Analytics.

But by far the most interesting project that I have had the opportunity to work on while studying at the U of M is creating a disruptive innovation with a team of four other classmates. Our current technology project couples cloud-based data systems and search engine algorithms into a ranch management software suite that will help producers manage their resources more efficiently. We are very hopeful that this new product will be given a trial run this summer on ranches in Ghana, Panama, Brazil and France. Talk about inventing a really sweet job for yourself!

THE FUTURE793717_10151500174495572_1822365244_o

What’s in store for the youth of agriculture in America? Personally, I would argue an extreme amount of opportunity, especially if those youth are open-minded enough to learn about computer technology, world travel, and getting involved with groups like Collegiate Stockgrowers and the YPC. Tomorrow’s leaders in agriculture will be required to harness a very broad and deep set of skills, and having a solid understanding of how to manage massive amounts of information with computer science technology coupled with a knowledge of how to make things grow, will dovetail nicely into feeding 9 billion people.


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Choosing Beef: Meet YPC Member Zeke McCarty

BY ZEKE McCARTY, YPC Leadership Board

IMG_20130430_182756_726I’m just your typical small town, country boy from NE Texas that found his way to colorful Colorado through beef.

My background may not be your typical cattleman’s or cattlewoman’s story. I didn’t grow up on a family farming or ranching operation. I always thought of my background as more along the lines of “Old MacDonald had a farm.” My parents were either extreme animal enthusiasts or just allowed me and my siblings to be. We had pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, cattle, goats, rabbits, a turkey, and many more odds and ends critters. I believe my interest in cattle, specifically, began at an early age mostly due to hanging around my best friend’s family cow-calf operation. That, in turn, led to joining FFA which turned into signing up for the Animal Science degree at Texas Tech University. Within the four years I spent in Lubbock, TX, I found my passion for agriculture and my desire to be involved in the beef industry.

IMG_20130430_182112_152My reasoning for getting involved in YPC was two-fold. First, it is my belief that what sets our industry apart from others is the people. I can’t imagine surrounding myself with anyone other than the down to earth, genuinely good-hearted people with great values and ethics that are involved in NCBA and YPC. Although I only have a year and a half of experience in YPC, I’ve developed great relationships with great people and look forward to many more in the future. Secondly, I wanted to understand more of the policy side of NCBA. What actually happens in the organization and how do things get done? How is the neighboring stocker operator linked to the lobbyist in Washington D.C? Those were the type of questions I wanted to learn the answers to and the best way I’ve discovered to learning is jump right in and start asking.

All in all, I’ve enjoyed the beginning stages of education and involvement in NCBA and YPC. I look forward to learning more about our great industry all the time and hopefully can contribute to the success of something that’s bigger than me.


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The BEEFMAN Bloggeth For Cattle Call

BY LAUREN CHASE, YPC Communications

If you ever have a question about how best to talk about beef, Daren Williams is your guy! I met Daren serving on a judging panel for the National Beef Ambassador Contest and after a few days discussing best media practices, I knew that he was a gem for our industry. Today on the Cattle Call, we feature Daren and how he educates not only cattle producers on beef messaging, but also how he uniquely teaches consumers about beef through exercise. 

I was born in Plains, KS, near where my great, great grandfather homesteaded in 1886 and cousin still farms that land, mostly wheat (my great grandfather invented the first minimum tillage plow on the great plains. I wrote about it for Ryan Goodman’s blog). When I was born my dad was the grain elevator manager at the Plains Co-Op. He and my mom were newlyweds. They met at Ottawa University (also my alma mater) and moved back to her hometown after school. We moved away when I was three when my dad became state director of the Farmer’s Home Administration in Topeka. Those are my roots in agriculture.

487686_10151300008764027_204637212_nI grew up in the big city of Topeka and moved to VA/DC in 1979 when my dad went to work on the Senate Ag Committee staff for Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS). That was my first real exposure to the big city! I didn’t particularly like it at first but have to admit it grew on me. I graduated from a large high school in the VA suburbs (2,800 students) and immediately headed “home” to Kansas to attend Ottawa U, where I met my wife, got married, graduated and moved back to DC (apparently whatever grew on me was still growing). My first job was on Sen. Bob Dole’s 1988 presidential campaign. It was an amazing experience I would never trade. At age 23, I was running around New Hampshire in January running get-out-the-vote efforts in the Republican primary. Unfortunately we lost (Dole took second to then-Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush in the primary).

I spent the first ten years of my career in DC. Following the campaign I went to work at Agri/Washington, a public affairs firm representing food and ag clients in DC. That’s where I got my start in communications and issues management, working on the Alar crisis in the apple industry (one of the first big food safety scares driven by activists and the media, which led to today’s food disparagement laws under which BPI is suing ABC over their “pink slime” coverage). In 1997, we left DC to go home to Kansas where I joined the ag division of Fleishman-Hillard public relations in Kansas City. FH is where I first began work in the beef industry, developing the first industry-wide crisis communications plan for E. coli-related recalls for the Beef Industry Food Safety Council. Over the next nine years I helped beef industry clients communicate during E. coli recalls and the first BSE case in the U.S. (2003), before joining NCBA in 2006.

I was hired at NCBA to create a spokesperson development program to train farmers and ranchers to serve as media spokespeople. But when social media sites like Facebook and Twitter took off in the last 2000s we saw a need to train a large number of farmers and ranchers to be grassroots advocates for beef and created the Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program.

You have been a part of a lot of different industries throughout your career…what do you like about working for cattle producers? 

My grandpa once told me to never trust somebody wearing pointed boots and a cowboy hat (he was a farmer who wore work boots and a cap). My uncle who took over the farm from my grandpa still gives me trouble about working for the guys in the “white hats.” But my experience is a guy wearing  white hat represents honest American values of hard work and integrity. As a public relations counselor I represented clients in the health care, automotive and consumer products industries, but I kept coming back to my roots in food and agriculture. The best part of my job is traveling to farms, ranches and feedlots across the country and meeting the people who make up the beef community and helping them find a way to connect with consumers. I like getting to know the people who produce the beef I eat and feel like I represent other consumers yearning for the same experience.

The Masters of Beef Advocacy Program is one of your greatest successes…why is it important for young producers to participate and earn their MBA? 66853_10151839912154027_2091826125_n

The MBA program is not my success. It is the success of the farmers and ranchers and chefs and retailers and others who earned their MBA and are working every day to connect with beef consumers. It is also the success of the farmers and ranchers on the checkoff committee who had the foresight to develop and approve the MBA program five years ago, just as social media was exploding.  Of course, Facebook and Twitter are now THE source of information for millennial consumers. And we have more than 4,000 MBA graduates who are well-equipped to engage consumers in conversations about beef through social media. Of course we need as many voices as possible to connect with more consumers, particularly young producers. We need millennial farmers and ranchers to connect with millennial consumers!

From the Young Producers’ Council perspective (raising cattle and advocating for beef), what are some of the most important things we need to know about how to effectively communicate with each other and with consumers?

The most important part of a conversation is listening. Today’s consumers, particularly millennials, want us to listen to their concerns. All too often we rush into a conversation in person or on Facebook and start telling someone why they are wrong. I catch myself doing it. Just recently a registered dietitian I follow on Twitter said she only eats grass-fed beef because “the other stuff makes me sick for days.” I wanted to tell her that was ridiculous. But I didn’t. I started by thanking her for eating beef then engaged in a conversation about the differences between grass-finished and grain-finished beef. We had a good conversation. I tried to clear up some of her misconceptions about grain-feeding and I think she listened to my point of view because I listened to hers first.

You are involved with Team BEEF…can you please explain what that is and why it’s an important activity for the beef community?

562178_10151182260089027_2062801076_nI think Team BEEF is one of the most positive, non-controversial ways to promote the role of beef in a healthful lifestyle. By showing up at a race in a Team BEEF jersey you are showing, not telling, fellow athletes that beef-eaters can be healthy people! Beef has gotten such a bad rap over the years that many people just don’t think of beef as a good food. Sure, it tastes great but it can’t be good for you. The beef checkoff has worked hard to reverse that image through research, education and advertising. And it’s really working. More and more consumers view beef as a good balance of taste and nutrition. Team BEEF literally takes that message to the streets.

I am living proof that beef fits in a healthful diet. At age 30 I weighed 270 lbs., got little to no exercise, and had terrible eating habits. I consumed a lot of empty calories (three cans of Pepsi a day), ate a lot of fried, high fat foods. I ate beef but also lots of “lean” chicken, thinking it was healthier (and it was cheaper). Of course I didn’t just grill a boneless, skinless chicken breast plain. It was always slathered in bbq sauce or covered in cheese or gravy. What I didn’t think about at the time is that I’d been a lot better off fat-wise grilling a steak with a little salt and pepper. Today, At age 48, I weigh 210 lbs., get plenty of exercise and eat beef every day, with a lot of fruits and veggies, whole grains and other heart-healthy foods (I love avocados and almonds!).

You have a great opportunity to travel the country and speak with cattle producers in just about every state…what are some of your most memorable experiences on the road? 72609_10151692513594027_1158315966_n

I love traveling and meeting with cattle producers. When I joined NCBA there were only four U.S. states I had not visited: North and South Dakota, Montana and Idaho. It wasn’t long before I had been to all four and could say I have visited all 50 states. My favorite road warrior story is getting stranded in Sidney, MT, in the dead of winter. I flew to Sidney on a small Great Lakes Airline puddle jumper and was met at the airport by Jim Steinbeisser, my host for the trip. After a detour through Jim’s ranch to break the ice off several water tanks, we headed into Sidney for the MonDak Stockgrowers meeting. I spoke at the meeting and we closed down the bar with a number of the attendees before heading back to Jim’s ranch (where I was staying). After about three hours sleep Jim taxied me back to the airport for my 6:00 a.m. flight to Denver. Unfortunately, there was no airplane. And there would be no plane until Monday. It was Friday and my only option to get home was to drive to Billings. And my only mode of transportation was Jim. Either Jim is a really nice guy (which he is) or he didn’t want a guest for the weekend, but regardless, he made up some excuse about needing to visit a ranch of his near Billings and drive me six hours across the state in an ice storm.

Why should a young person get involved with their state and national YPC groups? 

My experience is if you want to be a mover and shaker you hang around other movers and shakers. YPCers are movers and shakers. State and national YPC groups are a great place to develop relationships and leadership skills that will benefit you in your career, no matter which direction that takes you.

What is a fun fact about Daren Williams?

I have a degree in English Literature and my favorite writer is Ernest Hemingway. I love his simple, straightforward writing style and strive to write more like him every day. I have a tendency to overstate, belabor and use way too many words to say what I want to say. See what I mean? I think that’s why I like Facebook more than Twitter! 140 characters just isn’t enough. Hemingway would have been great on Twitter. My favorite book is Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.” I even love the title. The sun also rises implies the opposite, that it sets. But it also rises. Every day comes to an  end, but just as surely the sun rises and a new day begins. Or, as my favorite band (Pink Floyd) says in one of my favorite songs (Time) on one of my favorite albums (Dark Side of the Moon), “So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking, racing around to come up behind you again. The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older, shorter of breath and one day closer to death.” So that’s more than one fun fact, but it all leads to a point: I try to live each and every day as an adventure, traveling to new places, meeting new people, setting new goals, trying new things, a never-ending party. I revel in each sunset and look forward to the sunrise. Wow, that was deep.

What’s your favorite beef dish? 

I love brisket. Whether slow-cooked for 12 hours on a smoker or in the oven the way my mom made it when I was growing up. It’s just so dang good. I like to smoke mine with pecan wood after marinating it overnight in a mixture of half-empty bottles of barbecue sauces from my pantry. Then I’ll throw in a bottle of hot sauce or some peppers to give it a kick. I like the combination of sweet and hot ;)

If you would like more information on the Masters of Beef Advocacy Program, click here

To keep up with Daren’s adventures, check out BEEFMAN Bloggeth, @REAL_BEEFMAN, and Facebook. 


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Outgoing Chairman, Lance Zimmerman on YPC

During the past year, Lance Zimmerman, market analyst for CattleFax, has led the Young Producers’ Council as chairman. On his first day in this position, Zimmerman video chatted from Colorado into the Cattle Industry Convention’s YPC meeting in Nashville, waiting for his wife to give birth to their first child. Taking on the challenges of being a new father, Zimmerman still was able to create new programs for YPC such as task forces and membership recruitment. On behalf of the YPC, we would like to thank Lance for his leadership and passion to help the young beef producers of this country. We appreciate everything you have done for us!

Q & A with LANCE ZIMMERMAN for the Cattle Call

Zimmerman_002What were the goals you set as YPC chair in the past year?

When I started the year as the NCBA Young Producers’ Council chair, it was my goal to continue the momentum created over the previous year. The council took great strides in 2011 to create some consistency regarding the way the council operates. Governing documents, leadership committee expectations and formal nominating and voting procedures were all established. As I assumed the role of chair, I asked YPC leadership what they recognized as the council’s greatest needs.

There were a number of directives that came out of those discussions:

1)    Provide an opportunity for every YPC member to have a voice in the direction of the council.

2)    Make sure that YPC activities and initiatives are recognizable to NCBA leadership.

3)    Develop better YPC programming areas in the areas of communication, member development, policy, and promotion and recruitment.

4)    Find financial resources to expand the programming efforts of YPC.

5)    Facilitate the growth and development of the YPC leadership committee

How did YPC accomplish these goals in the past year?

Throughout the year, the YPC leadership team has made measurable progress in each of the areas outlined earlier. As chair, my role has been to create an environment where we can meet these goals as effectively as possible, and there is always a certain amount of learning that takes place once you assume the chair position.

During the 2012 annual meeting, we launched four task forces to help engage members in the programming needs of the council. The YPC leadership committee also started the year participating in StrengthFinders 2.0 to learn more about our different strengths and talents. Also, to facilitate our understanding of NCBA and the Beef Industry Long-Range Plan, Kendal Frasier led a discussion for our team on these areas to help us in planning our activities in 2012.

The task forces all worked on a preliminary plan of activities in each of the four programming areas identified. Areas where funding and resources are immediately available will be developed first in 2013. Other programs will be added as resources are secured.

In the last few months, NCBA also announced Caterpillar as the sponsor of all YPC annual and summer meeting activities, and the staff is working to secure additional funding for our member development, policy education and recruitment initiatives.

In 2012, I also represented YPC as an ex-officio member of the NCBA Executive Committee. It has given me the opportunity to share what YPC is doing to grow its influence within the organization and industry. The organization’s volunteer leadership has provided encouragement, support and a genuine appreciation for the work everyone is doing. Continued open communication between YPC and the executive committee will pay dividends in better alignment of council and organization goals.

Each of these accomplishments has created a framework for even bigger things to come.

What do you feel your biggest contribution to YPC was during your time as chair?

Being a Kansas farm boy at heart, Bill Snyder, the Kansas State University football coach, is somewhat of a legend in my mind. He has a number of trademark sayings that folks in Kansas like to talk about. One of them is “keep sawing wood.” Another is “get a little bit better each day.”

These sayings certainly are not fancy, and when it comes to leadership concepts, there are not too many New York Times bestsellers written on the topics. However, those two sayings are incredibly difficult to live out on a daily basis. I like to think that throughout the course of the year I continuously worked toward accomplishing the goals listed above. I also hope I found ways to improve YPC on a regular basis.

What is your advice for the next chair of YPC membership?

It is an exciting time to take a more involved leadership role in the council. The industry is increasingly turning to our generation to make critical decisions and serve in leadership roles. That makes YPC programs and goals that much more important to NCBA’s future success and growth.

YPC has grown tremendously in recent years, but there is still a mountain of work ahead. The good news is there are more willing leaders within the council to meet these goals than ever before. The YPC summer meeting became a standing-room-only event, and more than 100 people watched the meeting online.

The best thing the YPC chair can do is facilitate and encourage the membership to determine the council’s direction and empower them to take ownership in reaching its goals.

A unique element of YPC is that it depends on volunteer leaders who likely only meet as a group twice a year. That means extra effort is need to communicate with the leaders and create accountability. However, there is now more continuity and progression in the leadership framework of the council. Members can be task force members, then assume a role as a task force chair. Eventually, select members are elected to be on the YPC leadership team. This structure has never been in place to the extent it is now. I think this will allow our next chair to benefit from more synergies and less backtracking in the coming year.


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