Membership growth in the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is off to a very strong start in 2006. Membership has increased by about 9% since NCBA's current fiscal year began on October 1, 2005. NCBA's direct members now total more than 26,600, while its 64 state and breed affiliates represent over 230,000 cattle producers across the nation.
Membership dues revenue is also on the rise, showing a 25% increase over the same time period from one year ago.
NCBA President Mike John, a Huntsville, Missouri, cow-calf producer and former NCBA Membership Committee chairman, says the membership results reflect the optimism and opportunity that exists in today's cattle industry.
"NCBA is all about cattlemen coming together to accomplish collectively what we could never do alone," John says. "Whether we're fighting for fair trade and property rights or building beef demand, there's nothing we cannot achieve if we stick to our core principles. Cattlemen are really responding to that message."
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%) and feeders hold 41 board seats (30%). John noted that the cow-calf sector has also been the strongest area of recent membership growth.
"As noted in the new Beef Industry Long Range Plan, cow-calf producers are the foundation of the beef value chain," John says. "But cow-calf producers realize that to be profitable, we need a healthy beef industry from top to bottom. NCBA gives us the opportunity to work toward that goal."
Membership growth has been especially strong in NCBA Region II, which is comprised of eight Southeastern states. NCBA membership has nearly doubled in Region II compared to 2005, rising by 89%. NCBA President-elect John Queen, a cattleman from Waynesville, N.C., says growing membership in the Southeast has been a top priority this year.
"The Southeast has the second-most cattle producers of any NCBA region, but we needed to reach out to them and communicate the benefits of NCBA membership," Queen says. "We added a Region II field representative and increased our presence in these states, and the results have been very positive."
Queen adds that the hurricane relief efforts coordinated by NCBA and the National Cattlemen's Foundation have not been lost on cattlemen in the Gulf Coast region.
"For me, NCBA is all about producers helping producers â€“ that's what we do best," Queen says. "When I travel to any of the Gulf Coast states affected by the hurricanes, the cattlemen there are so appreciative of the relief efforts coordinated by NCBA. I want to extend that gratitude to the farming and ranching families across the nation who donated cash, hay and farm supplies. They are the heroes, but I'm proud that NCBA was able to play such an important role."
The Livestock Marketing Council, a division of NCBA committed to enhancing opportunities for livestock market operators and order buyers, has also continued to gain momentum in 2006. LMC membership growth was strong in the 2005 fiscal year, but has surged by an additional 60% since October 1.
"We've always had an aggressive membership program," John says. "But the growth we are seeing right now is just incredible. We need to keep this momentum going, so we can further strengthen the voice and presence of the cattle industry."