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Agricultural News

NCBA Sets Policy and Elects Officers in Phoenix

Mon, 02 Feb 2009 6:19:00 CST

NCBA Sets Policy and Elects Officers in Phoenix Members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) held their board of directors meeting and annual membership meeting today as the 2009 Cattle Industry Annual Convention concluded in Phoenix.

This year’s convention and trade show was attended by approximately 5,300 people.Gary Voogt of Mich. was officially elected to succeed Andy Groseta as NCBA president for the coming year.     Voogt praised members for a successful conference. “I’m so pleased with the high level of participation we’ve had this week,” he said. “Our discussions have been extremely productive and will no doubt set us on a path for success in 2009 and beyond.”

Cattle producer discussions during the convention resulted in a number of policy directives and recommendations for 2009.

In the area of Cattle Health and Well Being, members engaged in a productive conversation with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regarding an updated and workable approach to animal disease programs, particularly bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis. They also discussed the severe exacerbation of disposal issues producers are already experiencing due to the enhanced feed ban, months before it even goes into effect. Finally, members reaffirmed the industry’s commitment to humane care and handling of cattle.

Federal Lands committee members resolved to encourage local, state, and federal agencies to consider livestock grazing as the first solution for fuel load reduction in order to reduce wildfire potential and improve livestock and wildlife habitat.

Agricultural Policy members resolved to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act and any other effort that would take away an employee’s right to privacy. Specifically, the resolution expresses opposition to: allowing a Card Check system instead of secret ballot voting to organize a union; forcing collective bargaining upon businesses and their employees; and requiring forced arbitration to determine wages and benefits without ratification vote by employees.

Also under agriculture policy, members voted to amend current policy with respect to the Beef Checkoff Program to allow promotion of U.S. beef and ensure the program remains fair, cost-efficient, and coordinated in order to achieve long range goals.

With regard to international markets policy, members resolved to increase the age restriction for trade with Japan from 20 months to 30 months. The current age restriction into Japan is limiting American producers to about 25% of our potential sales there, which means U.S. beef producers are still missing out on $1 billion in exports annually.

All policies adopted are now subject to approval by more than 30,000 NCBA members nationwide. Convention results will become official after a mail-in ballot process concludes in March.

Meanwhile, the NCBA board of directors accepted an interim report Saturday from its governance task force that was named last summer to make the organization more relevant and responsive (Feedstuffs, July 14, 2008).

The concept for the task force is to determine if NCBA's governance, which reflects more than 100 years of cattle group mergers, is overly burdened by its history and should be changed in light of the challenges of the 2000s.

Task force co-chairs Jan Lyons of Kansas and John Queen of North Carolina reported that the task force has since last summer interviewed industry leaders and others and surveyed state affiliates and beef councils and breed affiliates to determine objectives of the review. They also said the task force has retained Organizational Performance Improvement Systems LLC (OPIC), a consulting firm specializing in association management, to assist it in its work.

OPIC principals Michael Gallery and Colin Rorrie outlined a number of perceived or real problems that the industry sees in the current governance, including too many committees, a board and executive committee that are too large and an organization that's trying "to vertically integrate an industry that's not vertically integrated."

They listed 16 possible governance reforms that would "close gaps between what is and what should be" that will be explored over the coming year, including developing an NCBA long-range plan would be in concert with the industry's long-range strategy and would drive NCBA decision making, increased board accountability and authority, increased data and input to make decision making more responsive to members and provisions to "empower" the board's Federation of State Beef Councils so it can "thrive and grow."

Another reform would be for NCBA "to stick to its knitting," according to Gallery, and deliver only the services that it can do best, rather that trying to do everything for everyone. "The board needs to learn to say 'no,'" he said.

Queen said the task force will present interim recommendations to the board at its mid-year meeting this summer and final recommendations to its annual meeting next January.

Members also voted on new officers for the upcoming year. In addition to Voogt’s election as president, Steve Foglesong of Ill. was chosen as NCBA president-elect, and Bill Donald of Mont. was elected as NCBA’s Vice President.

Newly-elected officials to the NCBA Executive Committee include: J.D. Alexander (Neb.), Chairman, Federation Division; Scott George (Wyo.), Vice Chairman, Federation Division; Eric Smith (Ala.), Chairman, Policy Division; Tracy Brunner (Kan.), Vice Chairman, Policy Division.

The following individuals were elected as Federation Division Representatives to the Beef Promotions Operating Committee: David Dick (Mo.), Becky Walth (S.D.), Linda Joy Stovall (Texas), Tamara Ogilvie (N.M.), Craig Uden (Neb.), David Hamilton (Neb.), Helen Weise (Iowa), and Chuck Adami (Wis.).

Members bid farewell to Terry Stokes and celebrated his distinguished career as NCBA CEO. Stokes recently stepped down after 13 years of service, handing over the reigns to Forrest Roberts.

“While we will all miss Terry greatly, we’re looking forward to a new and exciting chapter with Forrest at the helm,” continued Groseta. “I’m confident that Forrest’s wealth of experience, fresh ideas, and intense passion for the industry will raise this organization to even new heights.”

Roberts laid out some of his priorities for the coming year, including his commitment to growing domestic beef demand, expanding access to foreign markets, and protecting the U.S. beef industry from actions that could impede a favorable business climate.

Voogt closed the convention with his outlook for 2009. “These are challenging times, but now is not the time to change course,” he said. He cited recent successes, including a 6.7 percent increase in membership over the past year, as well as the approval by the Board of Directors of a new and improved governance structure for NCBA. “Our association is the oldest, largest, and most successful national organization of cattle producers. By continuing to speak with a unified voice and our mutual goal of increasing profitability, the U.S. beef industry is sure to continue prospering for years to come.”




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