Craig Moss participates in NCBA's Young Cattlemen's Conference

With the beef industry changing so rapidly, identifying and educating leaders to help guide and strengthen the industry has never been so important.  Because NCBA serves the grassroots trade association representing the U.S. beef cattle industry, leadership development, including the Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC), is a priority for the organization.

The YCC tour has proven to be an effective vehicle in identifying and developing potential leaders.  Over 1,000 cattlemen and women have graduated from the YCC program since its inception in 1980.  Many of these alumni participate in committees and councils and even more serve on the board of directors.  Several presidents and officers of NCBA and predecessor organizations have also participated in YCC.  This program has become and will continue to be the cornerstone of leadership training efforts within the cattle industry.

The 2016 conference, which took place in June, brought together more than 50 young cattlemen and women from around the country. The YCC program is a comprehensive, nationwide tour of beef industry sectors, created to enhance leadership skills in beef industry professionals like Craig Moss of Hull, IA.

Moss feeds cattle, raises hogs and grows row crops in Sioux County, and is currently the District 1 Director for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. He has a strong understanding of the opportunities for young cattlemen in Iowa. “Our cattle business is what has allowed me to move my family to our Century Farm,” he says. “Livestock compliments crop acres extremely well. Every acre of corn grown here is fed here. The manure is used as fertilizer for our fields and a few neighbor’s fields. The cost of livestock facilities to increase farm income has been a far better return on investment than land purchases in our area.”

Moss was chosen to participate in the YCC trip because of his interest in leadership roles within the cattle industry. “I want to understand our beef industry better so I can be more a more effective member of my local and state organizations,” he said in his application.

The YCC tour began at NCBA headquarters in Denver, CO, where participants were given an organizational overview of NCBA and the Beef Checkoff Program. While in Denver, the group also heard from representatives of Cattle Fax and toured a Safeway retail store.

Moss, like many other cattle producers, is concerned about consumers’ perceptions of our industry. “The amount of misinformation out there is incredible. It’s amazing how out of touch people are with modern livestock production. Even the people working at the meat counter at Safeway – they kind of had an idea of how beef was raised, but they weren’t always accurate in their explanations, either. It was really interesting to hear the types of questions they’re asked and how they respond.”

The group spent a day in Greeley, CO, visiting JBS Five Rivers feed yards and processing facilities before heading to Chicago, where they visited OSI, a company providing quality products and custom solutions for the food industry since 1909. This tour offered a view of how boxed beef is turned into custom order portions for both major restaurant chains (they fill 40-60% of McDonald’s needs worldwide) and some of the nation’s top steakhouses.

The group then traveled to Washington, D.C., where participants received an issues briefing from NCBA’s government affairs staff about policy issues currently facing the cattle industry. That background was useful since Moss had the opportunity to visit one-on-one with members of Iowa’s congressional delegation, including Congressman King, Senator Ernst and Senator Grassley. Moss’s conversations focused on issues including the Trans Pacific Partnership and overreaching regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency such as Waters of the US.

The visit to Washington was not all work. The group traveled to Aldie, VA, for a tour of Whitestone Farms, one of the nation’s elite purebred Angus operations. They also enjoyed an evening walking tour of the Washington monuments and were guests of honor at a John Deere reception.

 “The 2016 YCC class experienced the true gate to plate leadership experience,” said Marvin Kokes, Senior Vice President, Industry & Member Services for NCBA, and YCC tour leader.

Moss’s trip was sponsored by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation, which sees the sponsorship as an investment in the future of Iowa’s cattle industry.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Young Cattlemen’s Conference. I met a lot of great producers and leaders from all over the country, and learned more about NCBA and the beef industry, which will hopefully improve my leadership here in Iowa,” said Moss.