Virginia’s Cattle Industry Looks to New Opportunities

2/16/2013 7:00 AM
By Jane W. Graham Virginia Correspondent

ROANOKE, Va. — Virginia’s cattle industry can look forward to a year of change, predicts the executive secretary of the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association.

“There is no question that 2013 is a year of both transition and opportunity for both the Cattlemen’s Association and the Beef Industry Council,” Jason Carter said following the annual VCA convention at Hotel Roanoke Feb. 1.

The event was held in conjunction with the Virginia Dairymen’s Convention.

Approximately 550 people attended the event on a snowy winter day. Carter said his perspective on the convention has changed this year as his roles have changed. He went from being an attendee to an organizer of the convention.

“I thought the convention went very well, beginning with the board meetings Thursday of the Virginia Beef Industry Council, the Cattlemen’s Foundation and the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association,” he said.

“This year I will say that the feeling was very positive in the air for the future of the association and the beef council,” Carter said. “Increased emphasis looking ahead for the association on serving the membership needs of youth and women in the beef business was showcased at the convention with programs in the morning led by the Virginia Tech Beef Leadership Council and the Virginia Cattlewomen.”

Carter said these individual meetings will continue to increase awareness among folks in the industry, as well as lead to new projects and support for them and the association down the road.

“The beef council similarly is seizing a tremendous opportunity to reshape its image and reconnect with cattlemen around the state” Carter said.

The Virginia Beef Industry Council’s goal in 2013, he said, is to better showcase how the check-off dollars are spent, and to make himself and beef promotion director Anne Jones more visible to give an identity to the council’s Daleville, Va., office.

Carter said he hoped the seminars offered at the convention reinforced to producers the value of the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program and that the financial outlook will require risk protection to seize the greatest profitability in light of continued high energy and feed costs.

“Above all that, however, I hope that producers saw that the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association is an organization striving over the next couple of years to be something that everyone in the beef cattle business can identify with, regardless of how they market their cattle or if they even own cattle at all,” he said.

The Virginia Cattlemen’s Association will be in the process of rewriting its bylaws in 2013 to sustain its marketing services and expand its capability to work for cattlemen in policy issues and support allied industries.

“The VCA board believes that creating ownership in our organization for multiple levels of the industry will strengthen us for the next decade,” Carter said

Carter also reported on fundraising efforts at the convention.

“Our policy work fundraiser was successful again this year, as we auctioned breeding cattle credits to producers,” he said.

The VCA Public Policy and Advocacy Fund is used to support activities that aid in communicating the interests of cattle producers to lawmakers in Richmond and Washington, he said.

The Virginia Cattlemen’s Association cannot endorse individuals with political interests, but it can lobby for policy that is in the best interest of cattle producers, he said.

“Face time with legislators in invaluable and these funds support the travel and time to get that done,’” Carter said. “A portion of these funds also supports the work of the Cattlemen’s Foundation.”

Also at the convention, industry awards were handed out during the annual awards luncheon.

Those honored were:

BCIA Seedstock Producer: Little Windy Hill Farm, the Doug and Sue Hughes family of Max Meadows, Va.

BCIA Commercial Producer: Berk-Mar Farm, the Lin and Brenda Jones family, New Canton, Va.

Cattle Industry Service Award: Dr. Dee Whittier, Extension veterinarian with the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

Cattleman of the Year Award: John Goodwin, Orange, Va.

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