ELLENSBURG, Wash. — An Ellensburg cattleman, Danny DeFranco, has been hired as the new executive vice president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association.

Hired May 22, DeFranco succeeds Sarah Ryan, who had been in the position for two years before leaving May 10 for another job.

DeFranco said an initial task will be helping implement Senate Bill 5959, passed into law this year, to save the state Department of Agriculture livestock ID program. He will also be representing Skagit County cattlemen on elk issues.

DeFranco will continue operating Bar D Livestock a 400-pair cow-calf and custom grazing operation on leased land in the Ellensburg area. His wife, Ryder, is a licensed therapist at Kittitas Valley Health Care in Ellensburg. The couple and their two young sons live close to the Cattlemen’s Association office.

DeFranco, 40, was born and raised on a hobby farm with beef steers in Issaquah. His mother and two aunts were born in Havana, Cuba, and fled the Castro regime to Miami in about 1960. His father is Italian and Irish.

DeFranco graduated from Issaquah High School in 1997 and then attended two years at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. He took a few years off from schooling to work for a horse trainer in Ellensburg, where he increased his knowledge of horses and stock. He accompanied the trainer to clinics around the nation working with ranchers, horse trainers and other horse owners.

DeFranco finished a bachelor’s degree in business administration and information technology at CWU in 2010.

In 2013, he purchased a small cow herd and started Bar D Livestock.

“We were trying to build it. It’s the kind of business where you need economies of scale. Our grass base was static,” he said.

He began looking for employment a year ago but didn’t want to leave the cattle business.

“This opportunity came up, fighting for an industry I believe in,” he said. “It’s a good fit because it keeps me in cattle and I will continue my own business as long as it works to do both.”

Central Washington field reporter

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