"Boots on the Bay" at Tampa NCBA convention

Feb 8, 2013

More than 5,000 cattlemen and women registered to attend the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show, in Tampa, FL. The convention is the largest annual gathering of the beef industry and ran Feb. 6-9.

The Opening General Session on Feb. 6 officially started the convention and featured a keynote address from Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. Their lives were first chronicled in the bestselling book “The Blind Side” which then went on to become a Hollywood blockbuster film. “The Blind Side” tells the story of Michael Oher, a homeless teenager turned first-round draft pick NFL football player, with the support and love of an unlikely adoptive family, the Tuohys. Oher now plays for Super Bowl XLVII champions the Baltimore Ravens. During their speech Wednesday afternoon, the Tuohys shared their message of love, hope and the power of cheerful giving.

The Tuohys shared their secret of giving unconditionally, saying, “There’s something that everyone can do. The view from behind is a whole lot different than what is in front of you.”

The day before the opening session, participants gathered to hear the results of the first Beef Industry Sustainability Assessment. The assessment, funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, marks the first time any industry has ever measured the sustainability of its entire supply chain.

“Sustainability is, in fact, a journey. This particular journey started two years ago when the Beef Promotion Operating Committee decided to fund the sustainability assessment project,” said Oklahoma cattleman and vice-chair of the checkoff’s Producer Communications Working Group Richard Gebhart. “Raising cattle in a sustainable way has been important to the cattle industry for a long time, but this is the first opportunity we have had to use science to tell that story.”

“Sustainability is a journey and there’s really no end-point to this work,” said NCBA Director of Sustainability, Kim Stackhouse-Lawson. “We can always be more sustainable than we are today. That’s what we’re working toward, that continuous improvement that will make us better over time.”

Cattlemen and women also heard from Stuart Varney during General Session II. The session was opened with the God Made a Farmer commercial that was produced by Dodge for the Super Bowl and has become a social media hit. Varney, the host of “Varney & Company” on FOX Business Channel, is a veteran business and financial journalist.

He offered a positive take on the current economic situation and described, with upto-the-minute detail, what it means for you, your family and your business.

This year’s convention participants heard from industry leaders, gathered insight on industry trends, met with their fellow cattlemen and women, and enjoyed Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest, a night full of lively pirates, sounds from the Caribbean Chillers, and plenty of local eats. The convention closed with the Cattlemen’s Beach Bash featuring the Beach Boys. NCBA President and Nebraska rancher J.D. Alexander said the convention is a must for all cattlemen and women.

“We’re here in Tampa to highlight some of the successes of the cattle industry in the past year while also setting goals and priorities for what lies ahead,” said Alexander. “Convention attendees will be able to share valuable insights, help shape the future of the cattle industry, learn how to sustain and improve their operations and also enjoy warm Florida weather.”

After learning about the latest trends and technologies in the industry and attending the NCBA Trade Show, convention goers had the opportunity to attend committee meetings and take part in NCBA’s grassroots policy process.

“The grassroots policy process is the backbone and the strength of NCBA. Cattlemen come together to discuss policy priorities and then chart the course forward for the organization,” said Alexander.

NCBA’s Cattlemen’s CollegeĀ®, now in its 20th year, has established a reputation as one of the most thorough cattle producer education programs in the nation. Sponsored by Zoetis Animal Health, the 2013 edition of Cattlemen’s College was held during the meetings, and began with participants being treated to great Florida hospitality and an exciting ranch horse competition at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Cattlemen’s College students then heard from an outstanding lineup of industry experts.

Cattlemen’s College offers a wide range of informative, one-of-a-kind hands-on workshops designed for cattle operations of every size and sector. Class began bright and early with a keynote address by internationally respected futurist Dr. Lowell Catlett, who spoke about the resiliency of the beef industry and the people who work in it. Catlett also provided his predictions for the long range outlook for the agricultural industry, along with factors that influence profitability and sustainability of beef cattle production.

“No matter what is thrown at us, we just get up in the morning and go to work,” said Catlett. “The resiliency of the human spirit is amazing. People matter, and the beef industry needs to be ready for tremendous changes to come.”

A cattle market update was presented by CattleFax, along with sessions on preserving family relations on the ranch, weather predictions for 2013 and beyond, consumer attitudes toward beef and beef production, how to cope with drought and high feed prices, animal welfare issues, and how to identify risk factors that affect cattle producers’ bottom line.

Allen Moczygemba, director of the beef segment of the U.S. Cattle and Equine Team with Zoetis Animal Health, said that the company saw a need for more educational programs for cattle producers.

“Twenty years ago, cattle producers needed access to information they didn’t have,” said Moczygemba. “Years later, there is still a hunger and desire for more information. U.S. beef producers want to become better at what they do, and they are constantly striving to improve. Cattlemen’s College provides them with the tools to achieve that.”

WLJ will have an NCBA wrap up in the next issue, including award winners and policy updates. Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor