Cuts, strife gall Iowa cattle association

IOWA, USA - A decline in membership and shortfall in promotion money are blamed. The Iowa Cattlemen's Association faces financial problems and member discord just as the state's beef industry is poised for a comeback, the group's leaders say.
calendar icon 26 September 2006
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The group will cut $260,000 - or 22 percent - of the budget for its next year, which starts Oct. 1, said Leon Yantis, president of the association. The cut will mean the elimination of an unknown number of staff positions at the Ames headquarters of the cattle group, one of the largest and most powerful farm organizations in the state.

Yantis said the cuts were needed because of shortfalls in the expected membership of the organization and in money from the checkoff program, which is used to promote beef.

The budget cut and membership discontent come at a critical time for Iowa's cattle producers, who are trying to ride a wave of increased ethanol production. Using distillers' dried grains, a cheap byproduct of the ethanol-making process, could be a way for Iowa's cattle feeders to gain a competitive advantage.

Iowa ranked first in the number of cattle marketed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but numbers have fallen by about two-thirds since then as packing plants moved west and environmental problems surfaced.
The cattle industry has hit more bumps recently, including the loss of foreign markets during the mad-cow disease scare and the closing of the Iowa Quality Beef plant in Tama in 2004. The Iowa Cattlemen's Association successfully lobbied state lawmakers for millions of dollars in government loans and other financial aid for the plant.


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