San Antonio, Jan. 30, 2010 – In preparation for key battles it foresees for the beef industry in coming years, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Board of Directors voted to adopt a report and governance structure concept by a Governance Task Force that would lead to significant structural changes to the organization.

Meeting at the 2010 Cattle Industry Convention, the Board adopted the task force report by a 201-13 margin, putting in motion the creation of a new governance structure, which would feature a smaller NCBA Board of Directors and a new House of Delegates that would include the organization's state affiliates, state beef councils, industry/breed organizations, and product/allied industry councils. The Federation of State Beef Councils would be housed within the House of Delegates, and continue to conduct its federation duties as specified in the Beef Promotion and Research Act & Order.

“This is an important step in making our industry more responsive to the challenges it faces,” said Jan Lyons, a Kansas beef producer and co-chair of the Governance Task Force. “There are entities across the country seeking to keep us from succeeding as cattlemen and women. The changes we have recommended make it easier for us to move quickly against those groups and assure that consumers know the facts about the great beef we produce and the people that produce it.”

Specifics of the recommendation include:

A Board of Directors that has 29 members, 26 of whom are elected by the House of Delegates. The Board, which has legal and fiduciary responsibility for the organization;

A House of Delegates with a total of 250 votes. Of those votes, 106 would go to State Beef Councils, 106 to state affiliates, and 38 to industry and breed organizations, as well as the allied industry/product council;

The Federation of State Beef Councils within the House of Delegates that elects a chair and vice chair and the eight other members to the Beef Promotion Operating Committee;

Committees approved by that board that would make proposals to the House of Delegates. These committees would be comprised of NCBA members, members of member organizations and/or invited guests.

“Over the period of 18 months we visited with producers and worked hard to come up with a system that would maximize the capabilities of our organization,” according to Lyons. “We think this new structure will make us as strong as possible as we face the many adversities that face us today.”

Lyons said the task force sought to maintain grassroots input and control of the organization. This is accomplished through the operations and structure of the House of Delegates, whose member organization votes will be weighted based on NCBA investment. They will vote on policy to be recommended to the Board of Directors, the policy-establishing body for the organization. Grassroots input will also be accomplished through committees of like-minded beef producers (such as cow-calf operators, feeders or those interested in beef demand), who will provide input to the House of Delegates.

According to John Queen, task force co-chair and a beef producer from North Carolina, the group was careful to develop recommendations that kept in mind the NCBA's quest for an industry with one vision, one plan and one voice. It determined that current structure that includes a 274-member Board of Directors is unwieldy and makes authority and accountability within the organization more difficult.

“We wanted to make it easier for the Board to maneuver,” Queen says. “At the same time, NCBA has always sought to conduct our affairs the right way, utilizing checkoff dollars only for those programs for which they were intended. Our recommendation is legal and maintains the strict firewalls required by law for checkoff and non-checkoff dollars.” Queen says the recommendations comply with the Checkoff Act and Order. Legal counsel and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were consulted throughout the process.

The 21-member Task Force included both producer members and state organization staff interested in improving their national organization and the entire industry. Its recommendations were submitted to the NCBA Executive Committee in San Antonio, and discussed by the full Board of Directors today during its Annual Meeting.

Working groups will be established to take the structure concept and further develop bylaws, investment schedules and a transition timeline. Bylaw changes will be considered by the board at the Summer Conference in Denver this July. If bylaws are approved at that meeting, implementation of the structure would begin.


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