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National Cattlemen's Beef Association

Membership: 30,000

Organization Focus: Policy support

Years Since Founding: 114

Program Focus: Young, beginning and small rancher development

U.S. ranchers raise nearly 90 million head of cattle each year in every state in the nation, a responsibility that is shared by small family operations with just a few head as well as large businesses that feed millions of cattle, readying them for market. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) works to ensure a consistent demand for the industry's products and policies that support the industry's continued success.

NCBA was founded in 1898 to promote the interests of its rancher members. Since then, it has evolved with a changing industry, and now focuses considerable effort on educating young and beginning ranchers who are either taking over their family operations or are entering the industry as a new venture. With a single cow worth up to $2,000, every decision is critical and educating newer ranchers will help strengthen the industry long-term. "The cost of entry into the cattle business is high and there's a lot of risk," says Marvin Kokes, Vice President, Association Marketing for NCBA. "It's important to educate ranchers and give them the tools to make the right decisions."

The cost of entry into the cattle business is high and there's a lot of risk. It's important to educate ranchers and give them the tools to make the right decisions.

Two NCBA educational programs focused on this audience are being supported by Farm Credit's National Contributions Program.

The first Farm Credit supported program is the annual NCBA convention, which this year attracted 8,200 attendees, making it the single largest gathering of cattlemen in the country. The conference provides extensive opportunities for education and networking, as well as a trade show with 320 exhibitors discussing both leading-edge and time proven solutions. Also at the convention is the Farm Credit-sponsored national Collegiate Beef Quiz Bowl, a competition of animal science students from colleges around the country. 'Through these two venues alone, we can touch the people who are the future of our industry," says Marvin. "It might be a new rancher, or it might be the son or grandson of an existing member who can learn about new technologies that can help them become more profitable."

Farm Credit is also funding a new initiative this year that will expand the popular Cattlemen to Cattlemen television program to include educational segments targeting issues important to young and beginning ranchers and helping them develop effective strategies for long-term success. "There's a lot to learn from cattlemen across the country," says Marvin. "The convention and the television show are both ways for us to share this industry knowledge."