Having reached its goal of 28,000 members by this fall, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is setting new sights.
As the nation’s largest beef producers’ organization works with Congress on a new farm bill and other issues, it has begun a new drive to encourage even more ranchers to join its fight.
More members mean more revenue for the NCBA’s policy division and more clout with lawmakers, the organization’s leaders contend.
“Those folks eat beef and their constituents eat beef,” NCBA spokesman Chase Adams said. “When we go up and we’re talking with someone from an urban district, the first thing we say is, ‘You cover this many people, and based on average consumption your constituents are consuming this much beef.’ That sets a tone for conversations going forward.”
Adams stopped short of setting 30,000 members as a new goal, but he said it certainly isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.
“We’ve been increasing our membership every year for several years now, and … I think it’s going to be a successful effort again,” he said.
The latest push follows an aggressive, year-long membership drive in which the NCBA sought to increase its numbers from 24,356 as of last November to 28,000 this fall.
As part of the effort, the NCBA worked with New Holland to provide state affiliates that add the most members the use of a baler or tractor, with the opportunity to lease it or purchase it after one year.
As a result, the organization’s membership swelled to 25,800 by February and 26,225 by the end of June. The NCBA signed up still more members at the annual cattle industry summer conference in Denver in August.
The NCBA’s membership dues start at $100 and vary depending on the size of the operation. For instance, a cow-calf producer with 4,000 head would be charged $750 to join, according to the organization’s website.
The latest membership drive comes as Congress is set to address many issues important to ranchers in the coming weeks and months, including border security, international trade and various environmental regulations, NCBA officials say.
The NCBA continues to increase its numbers despite criticism from other groups, including the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, over how it has handled Beef Checkoff funds and for protecting the interests of major meatpackers.
For instance, the NCBA and other groups are suing the federal government over the new mandatory country-of-origin labeling regulations, which they claim has increased the cost of production. R-CALF, a strong supporter of the labeling law, joined the suit on the government’s behalf.
Despite the criticism, 95 percent of the NCBA’s members “are grass-roots cow-calf guys,” Adams said.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: http://www.beefusa.org