POLITICAL RANCHER

All For One

WR Publisher and Editor, Tim O'Byrne

WR Publisher and Editor, Tim O’Byrne

The National Institute For American Agriculture – Working With Us To Make Things Better

By: Tim O’Byrne

Ever since it began, ranching in America has been comprised of entrepreneurs and visionaries that put several factors together (available grasslands, water, cattle, and the hungry population of an expanding country) to create a proud, self-sustaining industry.  Due to the fact that the ranchers have always been scattered out, vulnerable not just to the weather but to the politics and economic forces beyond their control, they’ve learned to band together early on, to organize and share information, representation and momentum.  If they didn’t, the whole infrastructure would have imploded long ago, and the only beef we’d see today would likely be from backyard oxen.

There’s a group that WR wants you to meet that was formed with that very goal in mind; to gather useful information on ag-related challenges, create solutions out of that info, and get those solutions out to the agriculture community, including beef producers, in order to make things better.  That’s their simple intent.  That group is the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) and it’s been eleven years since they cranked it up.  I got a chance to meet the Managing Director of the NIAA, Scott Stuart, and I’m happy to report he’s one of us.  And that makes the NIAA message so easy to uptake.  Here’s part of my visit with Scott;

 

WR    Scott, tell us a bit about yourself, your background with cattle, and where you are today with NIAA; how did you get involved with them?

Scott  –  I was raised on my family’s 700-head cow/calf operation in the north-central mountains of Colorado.  Our ranch ranged from 7,500 to 10,500 feet in elevation and relied on summer grazing in the Arapaho National Forest.  In the early 1980s, we sold the Colorado ranch and moved the operation to northwest Montana where we ran a smaller herd of cows and 1,000 yearlings.

I became involved with NIAA through the National Livestock Producers Association (NLPA).  I have served as the President and CEO of NLPA since 1992, and NLPA has been a member of NIAA for over 30 years.  I served on the NIAA board of directors for several years and then as chairman of the board from 2005 – 2007.

 

WR    What is the NIAA – give us a brief history and a bit about where it is today?

Scott –  NIAA carries a strong legacy of providing the U.S. livestock industry with a forum to collectively address issues of common interest. NIAA, successor to the Livestock Conservation Institute (LCI), is the result of a progressive process and vision that began in 1996 when the LCI Board of Directors commissioned a long-range planning team to landscape an organization that would best serve animal agriculture in the 21st century. The newly created organization, NIAA, began operations in January 2000 and is collectively addressing issues of interest to the industry, providing vital industry information, continuing education and communication outlets for animal agriculture professionals.

 

WR   Tell us about how the NIAA and America’s cattle ranchers are related.  What is the synergy there? 

Scott –  NIAA (LCI) was formed over a century ago in the first decade of the 1900s in order to assist cattle producers to reduce the number of animals that died in transit to the central markets.  Since that time, the association has worked to educate producers and their employees in proper animal handling methods and animal health management.

NIAA’s membership includes several cattle organizations (i.e. Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Illinois Beef Association) as well as individual cattlemen.   NIAA’s leadership includes Travis Justice, executive of the Arkansas Beef Council; Stan Mannschreck, cattle producer from Anadarko, OK; and John Braly, former executive of the California Cattlemen’s Association and VP of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

The Bovine Committee is co-chaired by Dr. Karen Jordan, a cattle veterinarian and dairy producer in North Carolina, and her co-chair, Nathan Jeager, is beef director of the Alabama Farmers Federation and formerly with NCBA and Laura’s Lean Beef.

 

WR   That’s a very impressive lineup of influential individuals from the beef cattle sector.  What message do you want to give to our Working Ranch readers on behalf of NIAA

Scott  –  NIAA is an organization that is comprised of a very broad range of animal agriculture participants from individual producers, to veterinarians, to animal health agencies, to animal health companies, to association executives. NIAA has earned the reputation as being the association where all segments of animal agriculture come together to find workable solutions to the difficult issues facing the industry.

It is extremely important that cattlemen have their beef-specific organizations; and NIAA provides the ability to draw on the expertise of representatives from other species areas such as pork, lamb, poultry and dairy, in order to provide solutions in the areas of animal disease management, animal handling, and animal care.

 

WR  So the NIAA forum is effective in areas of animal agriculture that crossover, or on interspecies issues that overlap.  I can see the value there because it isn’t always about beef, per se.  What do you want our readers to do to contribute or participate with the NIAA mandate? 

Scott  –  NIAA membership is open to anyone and any entity that believes in animal agriculture and wants to be involved in working to address the myriad of issues those not in agriculture seem to throw at the industry.  Members can be involved in the 11 species and issues-based committee and council system to ensure their input is fully received.

Simply put, NIAA is made up of individuals who have a deep desire to contribute to the industry they believe in and cherish.

 

WR  Scott, thanks for this great information, I understand you’re having a convention soon, let’s make sure our readers know about that beforehand.

Scott  –  Yes, the 2011 Annual Conference of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture will be held April 11-14 in San Antonio, Texas.  The sessions will focus on the elements of a stable food supply; food security; food safety; animal agriculture’s importance in the ecosystem; and effective ways to communicate with stakeholders. Go to www.animalagriculture.org to get the details.
Scott Stuart serves as Managing Director for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, and as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Livestock Producers Association, both based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Scott was raised in Colorado on his family’s commercial cow/calf ranch. His on-the-ground experience in livestock production management and marketing comes from having managed cattle ranches in both Colorado and Montana.  Scott earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agricultural Business and Economics from Colorado State University and attended law school at the University of Wyoming. 

 

NIAA office building

In February of 2009, the NIAA moved their offices from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to the new NLPA building in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The new offices are not designed for outside functions; all of NIAA’s and NLPA’s conferences and symposia are located in central locations like Kansas City, Indianapolis, San Antonio, and Denver.

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