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Brushing up on the beef business

By Glen Liford 2/23/2017


Dr. Ron Gill, professor and Extension livestock specialist with Texas A&M University, provides practical tips for low-stress cattle handling at the demonstration area located within the NCBA trade show. More than 9,300 beef producers and industry leaders attended the NCBA Convention and Trade Show in Nashville Wednesday, Feb.1, through Friday, Feb. 3, at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.
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A record crowd of 9,300 beef producers and industry leaders coverged on Nashville Feb. 1-3 for the 120th annual National Cattlemen Beef Association’s (NCBA) Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show. Attendance at the 2017 event at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center surpassed the previous record of 8,217.

“The Convention and NCBA Trade Show is the beef industry’s largest gathering of the year, and it’s a great opportunity for everybody in the industry to network, set public policy for 2017, and learn about all the new technology and science that’s improving the quality and safety of American-produced beef every day,” said 2016 NCBA President Tracy Brunner in a press release announcing the event.

The Convention and NCBA Trade Show brings together members and supporters of five key beef industry organizations: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board; American CattleWomen, Inc.; CattleFax; and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.

During business proceedings, Tennessee’s Jennifer Houston of Sweetwater was elected NCBA vice president. She previously served as 2016 Policy Division chair. Jennifer and husband Mark, members of AgCentral Farmers Cooperative, own and operate East Tennessee Livestock Center in Sweetwater and manage a beef operation. She grew up on a Hereford farm in West Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she majored in animal science.

A past chair of the Tennessee Beef Industry Council, Jennifer has held numerous leadership roles – from local to national levels – throughout her career. She and Mark have two children, Virginia and Ross, both of whom are involved in agriculture.

“It is truly an honor to be elected as NCBA vice president,” says Jennifer. “I am excited for the opportunities to represent the cattlemen and women of the United States.

“NCBA is working every day on behalf of America’s beef producers so that cattlemen, small or large, can stay in business and be able to pass their business or farm on to the next generation.

“Cattlemen face multiple issues and challenges each day. I urge everyone to be a part of the solution by joining their county catttlemen’s association, the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association and NCBA. It is a small investment for all the work that these organizations do on our behalf.”

Other NCBA officers elected were cattleman Craig Uden, Elwood, Nebraska, president; Kevin Kester, Parkfield, California, president-elect; Jerry Effertz, Velva, North Dakota, Federation Division chairman; Dawn Caldwell, Edgar, Nebraska, Federation Division vice chair; Joe Guild, Reno, Nevada, Policy Division chairman; and Jerry Bohn, Pratt, Kansas, Policy Division vice chairman.

The popular convention and trade show featured numerous opportunities for networking among fellow producers and agribusiness leaders in the trade show area and at informative and thought-provoking educational sessions staged throughout the complex.

The trade show attracted more than 350 exhibitors, including Tennessee Farmers Cooperative and the Herdsmen Brand, a superior fencing line owned by TFC and four other regional cooperatives. A centrally located live demonstration area provided a relaxed setting for industry experts to highlight proper cattle-handling techniques and conduct Beef Quality Assurance training.

At the Learning Lounge, also located on the trade show floor, attendees participated in informal, face-to-face talks in 30-minute “lightning sessions.”

One such session was conducted by executives from The Wendy’s Company, the world’s third-largest “quick service hamburger company” and a staunch supporter of the NCBA. Wendy’s has more than 6,500 franchise and company restaurants throughout the United States.

Representing Wendy’s during the session were Dennis Hecker, senior vice president, quality assurance; Carl Loredo, vice president of brand marketing; and Liliana Esposito, chief communications officer.

“We’re proud to take part in the NCBA convention where we get to meet suppliers who share our commitment to quality,” said Dennis as he discussed the restaurant chain’s efforts to ensure that the burgers in all their locations live up to its expectations of quality and its promise to use only “fresh, never-frozen North American beef” within the U.S.

Wendy’s representatives said the company’s 23 distribution centers send out 5 million beef patties each day. That beef comes from grain-fed steers or heifers that are 42 months of age or younger, and it goes from harvest to package in six days, said Dennis.

As a way to say “thank you” to the beef industry, Wendy’s provided complimentary burgers and Frostys to attendees throughout the NCBA events from its food truck parked just outside the convention center.

Other highlights from the week included a keynote address at Wednesday’s opening session by Dr. Beck Weathers. In 1996, Weathers barely survived one of the most violent and deadly storms ever to strike Mt. Everest, and his experiences were the inspiration for the movie Everest. Dana Perino, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, addressed the group on Friday morning and offered an insider’s perspective of the current political climate.

The 2018 NCBA Convention and Trade Show will be held in Phoenix, Arizona. It is not slated to return to Nashville until 2021.

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