Jamie Watts, a fourth generation Nebraska rancher from Fairfield, was one of more than 50 young cattlemen and women selected to participate in the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's 32nd Annual Young Cattlemen's Conference. Watts was sponsored by the Nebraska Cattlemen.
The YCC program is a comprehensive, nationwide tour of beef industry sectors, created to enhance leadership skills in you beef industry professionals. Watts was selected by his fellow producers to participate in the 2011 class.
"YCC is a prestigious and competitive program designed to foster the future leadership of our industry," says Forrest Roberts, NCBA chief executive officer. "The participants selected to attend YCC were chosen because of their exceptional contributions to the beef industry and their potential to be a strong voice in our future development. I look forward to seeing Jamie take an increased leadership role within NCBA and the beef industry."
Watts works on his family's operation in south central Nebraska. They run a purebred Limousin herd along with a commercial cow/calf herd. The operation includes a small feedlot and the ranch participates in seedstock bull and female sales across the country.
Watts says YCC was an opportunity to learn more about the issues facing the beef industry in order to be a better advocate at home.
"This was a tremendous opportunity to learn every aspect of the beef production chain," he adds. "I feel more prepared to address the challenges facing our industry after having gone through this program."
The eight-day tour began at NCBA headquarters in Denver, Colo., where participants were given an organizational overview of NCBA and the Beef Checkoff Program. While in Denver, the group also heard from representatives of CattleFax and the U.S. Meat Export Federation. They toured a new Safeway retail store and learned about Rancher's Reserve brand beef marketing efforts. The group spent a day in Greeley, Colo., visiting JBS Five Rivers feed yards and processing facilities.
"It is really important for the participants to see the range of beef production, from a cow/calf ranch to a feedlot and a processing plant," says Watts. "It drives home the point that our industry, though composed of many sectors, is ultimately interconnected in our efforts to produce wholesome and nutritious beef."
In Chicago, the group met with the senior management of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange at the Chicago Board of Trade. They had the chance to watch the activity on the trading floor and witness futures trading firsthand. Participants also visited Otto & Sons Industries, a family-owned company providing quality products and custom solutions for the food industry since 1909. This tour offered a view of how boxed beef is turned into custom order portions for both major restaurant chains and some of the nation's top steakhouses.
The group then traveled to Washington, D.C., where participants were greeted at a reception hosted by John Deere. The following morning, the group received an issues briefing from NCBA's government affairs staff about policy issues currently facing the cattle industry.
For more information on the YCC program or to nominate someone for next year's tour, contact the Nebraska Cattlemen, at 402-475-2333 or NCBA's Marvin Kokes at 303-850-3339.