“Life’s hard. It is harder when you are stupid,” is a quote from a famous man we all know, John Wayne. 35 years ago in June, he moved on to greener pastures. I am not sure if there is a correlation but since June 1979 (35 years ago,) Montana has been sending delegates to the to the NCBA’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference to expand our education on matters that affect the cattle industry.
Many of you have heard the stories, known someone who has gone or have gone yourself, so I am just going to give you a quick overview of the destinations and focus more on the whirlwind of knowledge that is presented over the ten day trip.
The trip starts in Denver, CO where 60 total strangers from all over the US embark on a journey together that challenges their knowledge, ignites passions, questions the possibilities and practices, builds lifelong friendships and severely deprives you of sleep! While in Denver, we spend two days in class covering CattleFax markets, Beef Check-Off programs, how to deal with media, self-reflection and discovery pertaining to our personalities and how to deal with others, Safeway/Cargill retail perspectives, and the NCBA’s missions for the beef industry. One day we traveled to Greeley, CO to tour JBS Five River’s Feed Yard, JBS packing plant and meet with the JBS executive team.
Then off for 24 hours in Chicago, IL to tour Chicago Midway dining, Chicago Board of Trade, and OSI (massive hamburger patty processing facility). And on our final descent to Washington D.C., we are briefed on political issues challenging the beef industry, meet with our state delegations, a quick monument tour, tour the New Zealand Embassy and discuss trade, and repack our bags with an amazing experience and newly acquired insights to share and utilize with others.
“A goal, a love and a dream give you total control over your body and your life,” said John Wayne. I would also add your business and ranches. That really encompasses what the NCBA brought to light throughout our industry, while giving us a tour of its segments.
We are all dedicated to the same goal of being the best and providing the best product, whether we sell beef, promote beef, package beef, and feed or raise beef. There wasn’t one person that I met on the trip or I work with here at home, that doesn’t love and have a huge passion for their role in our industry. Our dreams are very similar, but tend to be focused closer to our segment of the industry rather than the entire industry. The trip really lets you look at those dreams individually and opens the doors so you can visualize the possibilities when you combine them. The NCBA really works for all the segments and strives to combine the passions and dreams of each segment to enhance our industry as a whole. I was amazed by what our beef check-off does to support and sell beef for every rancher. Their focus isn’t just on those who eat beef but also those who don’t and how they promote beef is mind boggling.
“Don’t pick a fight but if you find yourself in one I suggest you make damn sure you win,” said John Wayne. Welcome to Washington D.C. Folks, if you don’t think our way of life isn’t threatened every second of every day, I would like to be in the spot you are hiding. The amount of legislation that is proposed which affects us and our livelihoods is astonishing. The number of teams assembled and amount of money spent just trying to ensure we can continue raising beef is staggering. I know I can’t be there every day to fight for my beliefs so I am dang sure going to support the people who do! And your 10 minute phone call to a representative goes a long way. Do it because your opposition is making those calls.
Thank you to the Montana Stockgrowers, the Research and Education Endowment Foundation and everyone who made this trip possible. It is an amazing opportunity that you should attend. “We’re burning daylight,” said John Wayne.