Producer Pride: A Common Thread Across the Country
During his tenure as president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Scott George traveled to more than half of the United States and visited with thousands of cattle producers.
On each of his trips, he would note differences in ranch management techniques depending on geography and landscape. After each meeting, however, one common thread remained the same – the passion and pride each producer held for the industry.
"It doesn't matter which state or part of the country you're visiting," says George. "The passion and pride of cattle producers is the same. It's visible on the grassroots level all the way up to the national level. It's what we do on our individual ranches and collectively through our member organization."
George says NCBA's recent sustainability study is a perfect example to illustrate his point.
NCBA received funding to conduct a national sustainability study, George explains. "It was truly a landmark study in that it was both peer reviewed and praised. What they found was that beef producers are doing a fabulous job and getting better and better each year," he says.
"Of course we've always known this, but now we have the data to prove it," George says. "For example, cattle producers utilizing sustainable ranch management practices such as cross fencing and rotational grazing. Those practices not only make economic sense, but it also makes environmental sense as well."
"Cattle ranchers are producing more pounds of beef every year with fewer cattle numbers and fewer inputs than ever before," states George. "We are doing more with less, or said another way – we do more with what we've got."
Whether it's researching sustainable practices or tracking economic trends, George says cattle producers and members of the industry are always on top of the issues. He believes the protection producers receive from the national organization is the number one reason they become members of NCBA.
"Cattle producers don't have time to watch all the activity going on in Washington, D.C.," says George. "The NCBA staffers are constantly watching the issues. They try to see both sides and evaluate whether a response is necessary. And if a response is necessary, what type of response will have the most impact. Does the staffer speak to a legislator? Does a producer speak to a legislator? Do we conduct a letter writing campaign? Would an editorial piece be more appropriate? All of these questions need to be answered."
But it is the volunteer leaders who make the final decisions, reminds George. "The NCBA staffers may suggest a course of action, but they never act without the direction of the producer leadership."
Another valuable component to the industry George mentions is the work the NCBA staff, with the support and guidance of the volunteer leadership, does to assist in the development of international standards that will impact the future of agriculture.
"NCBA has a veterinarian on staff who participates in legislative committees in D.C. We are at the table, literally at the table, when important decisions that will impact our industry are made."
George notes you can't talk about NCBA as an association without mentioning its annual convention and trade show.
"Attending the yearly Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show is a must for every cattle producer in the business," George says.
"Producers who attend for the first time are absolutely wow'ed. It's an overload – they get educated about their checkoff dollars, learn how they can be better producers, walk the trade show and visit with vendors with products they can actually use, and most of all, they can network with fellow producers."
Cattle producers are natural networkers, says George. "You'll see cow/calf guys meet with feeders and the next thing you know, they go away with a business deal."
The convention also offers producers the opportunity to visit one-on-one with NCBA leadership and staff to provide valuable feedback on the programs conducted on their behalf at the national level.
The NCBA staff is committed to communicating with the producers they serve and represent, George explains. They are able to do so successfully by utilizing a variety of different mediums that are popular with producers.
"The frequency and quantity of information is up to the individual," George says. "From reading NCBA's official monthly publication, National Cattlemen, to watching the weekly television program, Cattlemen to Cattlemen, to the daily e-mail communication from the D.C. staff – the NCBA team is working to ensure producers are informed. You can even receive up-to-the minute information by visiting NBCA's website, www.beefusa.org – day or night."
Through all the miles George logged during his time as president of NCBA, the pride and dedication to the cattle industry and its success in the future is apparent from all involved with the organization.
"There's a common passion and commitment to the cattle industry and agriculture as a whole that drives us forward," George says. "NCBA lives and thrives from the grassroots level, and it starts with the individual producers who make up the association."
To learn more about NCBA, visit www.beefusa.org. We hope to see you at this year's convention and tradeshow in San Diego, CA.