by Lance Zimmerman
One of the great things about the NCBA Young Producers’ Council is how it brings together full-time and part-time cattle producers as well as people involved just beyond the pasture gate.
Regardless of the day-to-day tasks that might consume YPC members, the common goal to work on policy issues, member recruitment, personal development and networking creates focus for the organization.
The leadership committee has a variety of activities planned for 2012 that will provide purpose and direction for the group, and I want to encourage everyone to look for ways to get involved.
I talked with a cattleman from Nebraska before the Annual Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Nashville, and he shared a concern that I feel is worth mentioning on the YPC blog. His passion for young producers was immediately evident.
He spoke to me about the opportunity for our generation to get involved in NCBA, network with older producers and become engaged in policy discussions. Then, the conversation turned to one of caution. As an established producer, he recognized the family and financial burden it takes to leave an operation for a few days to become engaged in an organization like NCBA.
Airline travel, hotel reservations and convention registrations certainly present a financial burden to many young producers trying to establish their own operations. On top of that, many producers in their 20s and 30s are the only source of labor for their operations. They often have to leave those operations in the hands of extended family and friends.
These are challenges of involvement for any producer, but the producer mentioned the stakes are often raised for young producers that have young families depending on them.
I bring all this front and center because I truly believe the YPC can find answers for these challenges.
First, the YPC provides opportunities that might not require a large travel commitment. The mentor program that was unveiled during the Nashville meetings is a perfect start. You be paired with a mentor in your state who is willing to be a sounding board as you look for guidance and advice.
Also, membership education and recruitment is an opportunity that exists on nearly a daily basis, and policy and beef quality assurance issues are something that producers can champion regardless of timing and location.
Those elements of YPC and NCBA involvement definitely help people stay engaged, but I also think it is important for us to address the challenges of involvement at the national level. The cost to travel to national-level meetings is significant, and YPC took steps toward addressing this in 2011 with its convention registration scholarships.
The council wants to build on this in 2012. I believe there are ways YPC can help members overcome these trials, but we need members to be involved in the discussions. Keep watching your e-mail to get involved in the upcoming YPC task forces. Details will likely also be shared through the YPC blog and facebook page as we get more information.
Healthy discussion regarding these challenges will help the YPC work toward reasonable solutions to encourage involvement at summer meetings in Denver and the 2013 annual meeting in Tampa.