The National Cattlemen's Beef Association ended its 2005 fiscal year with strong growth in the cow-calf sector of its membership, as well as in total revenue. NCBA's direct members now total 25,000, with 93% of these members being individual cow-calf producers, feeders or stockers. About 4000 of these cattle producers joined NCBA for the very first time in 2005. NCBA dues revenue ended the fiscal year about 3% higher than a year ago.
NCBA President Jim McAdams says he is very pleased with the membership totals, especially considering the consolidation that is taking place in the industry and in trade associations nationwide.
"Like a lot of industries, the cattle business is seeing its share of consolidation, especially in the feeding sector," McAdams says. "This can make it very hard to grow as a trade association, because the pool of prospective members is smaller. But NCBA has been able to offset feeder consolidation with powerful growth in our cow-calf sector."
Cow-calf producers continue to comprise the largest segment of NCBA's membership, followed by cattle feeders. This is directly reflected in the composition of the NCBA Policy Division Board of Directors, where cow-calf operators hold 81 of 136 board seats (61%). Feeders hold 41 board seats (30%), while allied industry members hold 7 seats (6%). Packers/processors hold 2 seats (1.5%), as do retail/foodservice members and dairy/veal producers. One seat is held by an auction market operator.
Membership surveys indicate that cattlemen value NCBA's ability to address issues of national importance, including international trade and protecting cattlemen from overregulation. Members also appreciate NCBA's role in helping the cattle industry grow, protecting cattlemen's ability to market cattle they way they choose, and providing educational programs for producers.
NCBA's 64 state and breed affiliate organizations are comprised of over 230,000 members. Many of these affiliates experienced strong growth in the past fiscal year. The following NCBA affiliates achieved at least 10% growth in either membership or revenue, or both, in the past year: Alabama Cattlemen's Association, Arizona Cattle Feeders Association, California Cattlemen's Association, Florida Cattlemen's Association, Idaho Cattle Association, Missouri Cattlemen's Association, Mississippi Cattlemen's Association, Nebraska Cattlemen, North Carolina Cattlemen's Association, New York Beef Producers Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, Pennsylvania Cattlemen's Association, South Carolina Cattlemen's Association, South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, Tennessee Cattlemen's Association, Virginia Cattlemen's Association and Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association.
The Livestock Marketing Council, a division of NCBA committed to enhancing opportunities for livestock market operators and order buyers, also achieved significant growth in the past year. LMC membership has grown by over 50% compared to one year ago. LMC also experienced dues revenue growth of 57%.
Harry Knobbe, a cattleman from West Point, Neb., and chairman of NCBA's Membership Committee, emphasized that membership growth doesn't just happen. He says the key is for producer-members to reach out to their fellow cattlemen, making them aware of the benefits and value that come with a membership in NCBA.
Knobbe points to NCBA's "Top Hand Club" as a great example of grassroots membership growth. To become a Top Hand Club member, individuals must recruit three new NCBA members. To remain in the club, they must recruit two new members each subsequent year.
"Membership in The Top Hand Club grew by over 30% this year, and the number of members recruited by Top Hand Club members grew by over 40%," Knobbe says. "This is just phenomenal. These Top Hands commit a lot of time and energy to strengthening NCBA, and I tip my hat to all of them."
For McAdams, reviewing the year-end membership numbers is especially gratifying, considering the picture some critics have attempted to paint of NCBA.
"To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of NCBA's demise have been grossly exaggerated," McAdams says. "NCBA is an organization on the rise, representing an industry on the rise. I defy anyone to look at these numbers and tell me otherwise."