If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I am very involved with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association‘s (“NCBA”) Young Producers’ Council (“YPC”). I am YPC’s representative on NCBA’s Resolutions Committee and am currently working with the new YPC blog, Cattle Call. If you haven’t been following the blog, make sure you check it out here (you can also become a fan of the blog on facebook here). This is only YPC’s first year and it has already given young cattle producers a voice in the industry. I have been interviewing the other members of YPC’s Leadership Board. This two part series contains the interview with Holly Foster, a California ranch girl who serves as YPC’s representative on the NCBA Property Rights and Environmental Management Committee. The more I learn about NCBA, the more amazing this organization becomes. It is quite remarkable how cattle producers involved in NCBA can impact what happens in Washington. If you aren’t a member, I encourage you to become a member of NCBA here. The industry’s collective voice, does impact public policy. As I mentioned in this blog, it is paramount for farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses to become “activists” in this industry.
Now for Part I of the interview with Holly…
1. Explain your cattle operation and involvement in the beef industry.
I am a fourth-generation cattle producers and am involved in a family-operated cow-calf operation based in northern California. Out winter operation is based 100 miles north of Sacramento in the foothills of the Sacramento Valley near Chico, California and our summer operation is approximately 100 miles northwest of Reno in Taylorsville, California. The original part of the ranch was homesteaded by my great-grandfather in the 1880’s and has been expanded over the generations. The ranch is managed in partnership with my parents Robert and Nancy Foster and my brother Mark Foster. I also work part-time as a public relations consultant for several agriculture organizations.
2. What are your goals for the organization over the next few years?
YPC was established to engage young producers and give them an opportunity to take on leadership roles within NCBA. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) recently released results from its 2007 Ag Census. Conducted every five years, the latest edition of the census reveals what many in agriculture already know. Ranchers are getting older and there appears to be fewer young people who are interested in returning to production agriculture.
The average age of U.S. farm operators increased from 55.3 in 2002 to 57.1 in 2007. The number of operators 75 years and older grew by 20 percent from 2002, while the number of operators under 25 years of age decreased 30 percent. While the statistics are for all farming operations, regardless of commodity or size, they do make you wonder who will be running the ranch in the next generatioin.
Trade association demographics follow similar trends. The average age of a NCBA member is 60 years old and there are concerns that there will be a void in leadership in the future. I think it is everyone’s goal that is involved with YPC to see the group support and engage those of us in that 18-35 age bracket that want to make our living in the beef industry. It is my hope that YPC will help broaden opportunities for young producers and create an avenue for the next generation of industry leadership to become involved.
3. What NCBA committee do you serve on and why are you interested in the activities of that committee?
I currently serve as the YPC representative for the Property Rights and Environmental Management Committee. As a California producers, environmental issues and regulations are often some of our greatest challenges. California typically sets the stage for environmental issues throughout the country. At the same time, I have been fortunate to be involved in several groups that have taken a proactive approach to cattle production and environmental issues and have helped showcase cattle ranching’s role in preserving open space and wildlife habitat. Taking part in the NCBA Property Rights and Environmental Management Committee seemed like a natural extension of those activities.
Stay tuned for the rest of the interview with Holly tomorrow. In the meantime, if you wish to contact Holly her email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find her on facebook here.
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