YPC Spotlight: Interview with Brandon Carlson

Rincker Law Conferences and Meetings, Food & Ag Law, Food & Ag Organizations, Interviews 4 Comments

Last January in Phoenix at the annual convention, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (“NCBA”) organized Young Producer’s Council (“YPC”)– a suborganization under NCBA for members ages 18-35.  YPC serves as a great way for young people to get involved in NCBA.  YPC elects producer members to be a voting member on NCBA.  YPC is chaired by Dustin Dean and vice-chaired by Steven Yardley.  There are currently over 136 members from around the country– a great start to an organization still in its infancy.

I have been lucky to be apart of the leadership team for YPC and sit on NCBA’s Resolutions Committee.  I have had a great experience thus far meeting other young producers and networking with leaders in the cattle industry.  Other voting committee members include:  Evan Tate (Agriculture Policy), John Schroeder (Live Cattle Marketing), Ben Spitzer (Membership), Holly Foster (Property Rights and Environmental Management), Brandon Carlson (Cattle Health and Well Being), Ty Kelly (Federal Lands), and Ben Neale (Tax and Credit).  Last July at NCBA Summer Conference, YPC voted on three committees for YPC:  (i) Public Relations (chaired by myself), (ii) Governance/Structure (chaired by Ben Neale), and (iii) Membership (chaired by Ben Spitzer).

I recently had an interview with Brandon Carlson, YPC’s Committee Member for the Cattle Health and Well Being (“CHWB”) Committee.  His responses to my questions are below:

Question 1:  Explain your cattle operation and involvement in the beef industry.

I’m a co-owner of a small registered Charolais and commercial cow/calf operation in western Nebraska along with two of my brothers.  We are currently expanding our Charolais herd with the intentions of marketing Charolais bulls and using the genetics within our own commercial herd.  The commercial herd is predominately Angus influence and utilized as a recipient for purebred Angus producers.  We utilize our Charolais bulls as clean-up after embryo transfer.  Outside of my own cattle operation, I am in the Food Safety and Quality Assurance group at a small vertically integrated beef producer.

Question 2:  What is Young Producer’s Council and how can a cattle producer get involved?

YPC is an organization of passionate young people (18-35 years of age) within NCBA who have a vested interest in the future and direction of NCBA.  It is simple to get involved in YPC, once an individual is a NCBA member (very easy at www.beefusa.org), they can join YPC for no additional cost.  Members can also stay up-to-date and informed on YPC with the YPC Facebook page.

Question 3:   How did you hear about Young Producer’s Council and what does it offer its members?

I was informed about YPC through friends/colleagues who work at NCBA.  Simply put, YPC offers its members opportunity.  This opportunity is multi-faceted adn obtained through (i) a voice on several NCBA policy committees, (ii) an avenue to get “plugged in” to NCBA policy development and activities, (iii) a means to see teh “behind-the scenes” activity of NCBA, and probably the most important, (iv) networking– while YPC membership is comprised of young beef producers, several members have full-time careers in marketing, pharmaceutical, nutrition, legal, harvesting industries (industries that are always recruiting talented individuals) that depend on cow/calf producers in addition to their beef operations.

Question 4:  What are your goals for the organization over the next few years?

My first goal is to increase YPC membership through recuiting members who were not previously affiliated with NCBA.  I would also like to expand YPC’s involvement in NCBA activities through increased presence in current meetings as well as membership in other policy committees.

Question 5:  What NCBA Committee do you serve on and why are you interestd in the activities of that committee?

I serve on the Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee (“CHWB”).  I am passionate about this committee as issues pertinent to this commitee have the ability to deleteriously affect the way beef producers raise beef cattle.  Some of these issues are further complicated because they are influenced by public perception.

Question 6:  Per question 5, what are the hot topics in your committee and what action did that committee take at the 2009 NCBA Summer Conference?

There are several hot topics for the CHWB committee.  Issues such as the use of antibiotics in production agriculture, surveillance of Bovine Virus Diarrhea (“BVD”) and emerging BVD strains, National Animal Identification System (“NAIS”), mitigation of brucellosis in Yellowstone elk and bison, and the eradication of the fever ticks were all issues discussed during the Summer Conference.  The CHWB committee passed resolutions directing the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) to adhere to and implement strict international biosecurity measures to prevent the importation of emerging BVD strain.

Question 7:  Why is it important for cattle producers to be involved with NCBA and Young Producer’s Council?

It is imperative for beef producers to unite and create a voice against the potential disastrous regulations being considered in Congress whether it pertain to production, welfare or the environment.  NCBA is the only cattlemen’s group that delivers such a voice and influence.  YPC presents an avenue for younger producers to become intimately familar with the issues and their potential outcome and also grants young producers an opportunity to direct NCBA policy.

Question 8:  Generally speaking, what are some of the largest legal issues affecting young cattle producers today?

There are a multitude of legal issues that present challenges to young beef producers.  I think the most significant issues are those that pertain to taxes, whether be it income, death or inheritance tax.  Other issues are those that pertain to the environment, especially water, antiobiotic utilizatiion, land use and carbon sequestering have the potential to influence the sustainability of young beef producers.

Question 9:  What are some of the most important legal issues affecting young people who wish to start their own cattle operation today?

Everything that affects securing capital is the most pressing issue that beginning beef producers face.  In addition, any legal issue that influences a young beef producer’s economic viability such as land and water regulations as well as carbon regulations have the ability to impede that success of beginning beef producers.

Question 10:  Per questions 8 and 9, what is NCBA doing in Washington to help wiht these concerns affecting young cattle producers?

NCBA has worked diligently to repeal the death tax or at least create an agricultural exemption.  They also present scientific facts to legislatures who are responsible for voting on statutes that affect beef production.

Question 11:  What advice would you give to young cattle producers who are trying to get established in the industry?

Keep a broad and positive perspective.  These are trying times for all beef producers, especially young beef producers.  Although challenging, I believe there is tremendous opportunity for young beef producers.  However, times are changing and a producer will not remain profitable with past production practices.  Producers must maintain their ability to evolved and adapt to ever-changing market conditions.  Continually evaluate your operation and incorporate changes accordingly regardless if they conflict with tradition.

Brandon is currently completing his PhD from Colorado State University, Department of Animal Science, before moving to California.  Should you have any questions about the CHWB Committee or YPC, Brandon can be contacted at brandon.carlson@colostate.edu.  Cattle folks interested in becoming a member of NCBA and/or YPC can start the application process here, call 800-BEEF USA, or email membership@beef.org.

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