If you’ve been following this blog then you know that I am heavily involved with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association‘s (“NCBA”) Young Producer’s Council (“YPC”), an organization that is only in its first year. I am a voting member for YPC on NCBA’s Resolution’s Committee, YPC’s Public Relations Chair, and Editor of YPC’s blog Cattle Call (if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do so– we have some tremendously talented bloggers). I have been interviewing the other members on YPC’s Leadership Board on this blog including Brandon Carlson, Ben Spitzer, Dustin Dean, and Holly Foster (Part I and Part II). Today’s interview is with Ben Neale from Tennessee. Let’s hear what Ben had to say . . .
1. Explain your cattle operation and involvement in the beef industry.
I was raised on a small cattle operation in Lynnville, Tennessee and grew up doing a variety of work for local backgrounders and farmers. During my high school years, I saved for my college education by working at a local shipping yard and sale barns. Upon completing my undergraduate studies, I went to work at Deer Valley Farm subsequent to an internship on Monarch Angus in Folsom, Louisiana, At the seedstock operations, I used much of what I had used throughout my childhood on the animal care side. Additionally, I learned a great deal more about customer relations and marketing a product relative to the market place. I learned that value is in the eye of the buyer and in order to better accomplish this I went back to graduate school. Since graduation two years ago, I have been operating a statewide cattle sales network in TN. I have recently married and moved to a subdivision in town.
2. How did you hear about YPC and what does it offer its members?
I heard about YPC through Nate Jaeger [@NateJaeger] last year at our State Cattlemen’s Convention. It has helped me to meet and work with other young cattle producer’s in my area and across the country.
3. What are your goals for the organization over the next few years?
Personally, I would like to see it move in a direction that links the younger generation with the older (more mature) one– those that are already established NCBA supporters and producers in the country. There are a large number of cattle producers either retiring or nearing that stage in their life. They have a wealth of information and wisdom that could be passed on to our generation. It will be challenging in the years to come without partnerships and relationships with more experienced ranchers.
4. What NCBA Committee do you serve on and why are you interested in that activities of that committee?
Tax and Credit. Although it is not as exciting as other committees since it is mostly about number, I have enjoyed my involvement so far. We all like checking cattle in the early morning or right at sunset and seeing the beauty in our way of life. A way of life that we would like to pass onto the future generations. However, there have been recent changes with more changes coming that pertains to tax and credit for agricultural operations that can hinder the ability to pass on our life’s work.
5. What are the hot topics on your committee and what action did that committee take at the 2009 NCBA Summer Conference?
Death Tax. Repeal for agriculture estates and extenuation of timeline.
6. Why is it important for cattle producers to be involved with NCBA and YPC?
The agriculture industry has always been a part of my life. It has helped mold my character and has provided my family and I with cherished memories from childhood. I grew up in a rural hometown where agriculture was a large part of the economics of the community. The family ties and friendships that agriculture needs form and maintain are invaluable to America and has been the true backbone of our country for decades. I personally have also made a living from the agricultural industry. It funded both my undergraduate and graduate education programs. There have been times in my short career when I have realized that there are easier ways to make money. However, to me, there is not a better way to live. Most importantly, I love all of it. Not only has this career given me means to make a living but it has also given me a way of life that cannot be found in any other industry. I hope that this degree and the work that it has taken to get here will allow me to give back to a way of life that has meant so much to me and countless others.
We are facing rapid changes and increased pressures to our industry. As with any change there is tremendous opportunity if it is seized and we are the front runners; however, if we are not proactive cattle producers then I have concerns for what effect the adversaries to our way of life may have on our future.
We must ban together for a common goal and as protectors of the things we love. It may come at a certain price of convenience to us but as Patrick Henry said, ” . . . I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
7. What are some of the largest legal issues affecting cattle producer’s today?
In my area the largest issues are financing and zoning. There is sprawl from most communities now that goes well into what used to be cattle country. The ability to make land pay with cattle for what you can subdivide it for is minimal to say the least.
8. What are some of the most important legal issues affecting young people who wish to start their own cattle operation today?
Personally, it is an understanding of contractual agreements. Much of what I do is still on a handshake but anything I I do with friends I actually get contracts. I want everything laid out so that a friendship is not compromised for business. Nationwide restrictions seem to change on a weekly basis. I see most young producers needing to protect themselves from legal issues by knowledge and preparation.
[Note: I wrote a blog on the importance of written contracts even when dealing with friends here].
9. What advice would you give to young cattle producers who are trying to get established in this industry?
Find a GOOD banker.
Ben is also the chair of YPC Governance/Structure Committee. He is currently looking for volunteers. If you are interested, please email Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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