Illinois beef enthusiasts gathered in the Quad Cities at the Isle of Capri Hotel Casino, June 18-20 to discuss industry issues, attend educational workshops and visit with others from across the state.

More than 100 cattlemen and women attended the event to take part in the Rabo AgriFinance Social and annual Awards Banquet, the Illinois Beef Association (IBA) annual meeting and Zoetis Cattlemen’s College, and also took tours to learn about different stages of beef production and transportation on the Mississippi River.

During the Annual Meeting, the membership discussed, voted, and passed the organization’s Strategic Plan – an outline of how the Association’s two division mission statements will work together for the whole of the state’s beef industry. The IBA Strategic Plan is split into three distinct areas focusing on the internal operations and structure of the association, the association’s efforts to serve its members, and IBA’s energy to speak on behalf of the state’s beef cattle industry. The association is governed by two independent divisions of its Board of Governors. The Policy Division’s mission statement is ‘to serve our members and promote the viability of the beef industry in Illinois’ while the Checkoff Division’s mission statement is ‘to build demand for beef through education, communication and marketing’. 

“Adoption of this plan is a real success for our association, as much for what’s in it as how we arrived at its final form. I’m just so proud of the work put in by our Board of Governors, our Executive Committee, and our staff to assemble a plan that demonstrates where IBA fits in representing beef producers in Illinois,” Adams said.

Members of the IBA also voted for the organization to pursue reactivation of the voluntary Illinois $0.50 Beef Checkoff. This in-state program was originally enacted through state legislation in 1983 prior to the U.S. $1 Beef Checkoff. The association will now go to work gathering 700 required signatures to trigger a statewide referendum of cattle owners, a process spelled out in state statute with oversight from the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Today’s vote follows unanimous votes with the same directive from the association’s Executive Committee and Board of Governors. 

"The referendum will benefit cattle producers because we've had the U.S. Beef Checkoff for 27 years and it's done a lot to reach out to consumers, develop new beef cuts, and educate cattlemen through programs like Beef Quality Assurance. However, inflation has given that original $1 only $0.44 in purchasing power today and we don't want to lose ground with consumers who love beef," Adams said.

The Awards Banquet kicked off the summer conference events. Attendees enjoyed the fellowship of other beef producers, as well as had the opportunity to visit with trade show vendors and conference sponsors. During the banquet, the IBA recognized some of Illinois’ most outstanding cattlemen. Membership awards were presented to the East Central Illinois Beef Association, largest total affiliate membership; LaSalle County Beef Association, largest percent increase in affiliate membership; and Dave Wilcox, top individual recruiter for their dedication in helping to grow the IBA.  

The conference also featured opportunities for cattle producers to learn about new trends and resources during the Zoetis Cattlemen’s College. The Zoetis Cattlemen’s College was host to several speakers throughout Thursday morning, one of which was the NCBA Vice President for Governmental Affairs Colin Woodall. Woodall updated those in attendance on the happenings on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., and what we should expect, as far as future in farm policy. He discussed issues cattlemen face with Environmental Protection Agency, trade and the proposed USDA rule allowing Brazil to export fresh and frozen beef into U.S., County of Origin Labeling, and the USDA American Dietary Guideline. Woodall also emphasized the importance of telling our story to legislators and voting in the November 4 election.

Conference attendees also had the opportunity to hear from Ron Hanson, Don Close, Chris West, and Tom Brink.

To round out the summer conference events, the group visited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Center Locks & Dam 15, Werner Angus, and the Tyson complex in Joslin and learned about different stages of beef production and transportation.

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