WASHINGTON – After serving 38 years as president of the National Chicken Council, George Watts, 68, will retire on March 31, 2011, due to health reasons. Watts is NCC’s second full-time chief executive since its founding as the National Broiler Council in 1954. Frank Frazier served as administrative director of the association and later president until Watts took over.

Watts advised NCC officers the timing of his retirement was due to a temporary medical condition that has limited his ability to travel and therefore to “give 100%” to his duties as president.

“The NCC officers have accepted George’s decision to retire with great regret,” said Leonard, group vice president/Food Service, Tyson Foods, Springdale, Ark. “This was George’s decision and his alone.”

“It has been a tremendous experience to be closely associated with the chicken industry, our allied industry members and this association for almost four decades,” Watts said. “I have had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the most wonderful people anyone could ever hope to meet. It has been the experience of a lifetime to have a front-row seat to view firsthand the remarkable story of how chicken became America’s favorite and most consumed meat.

“I am grateful to the leadership of NCC over the years for the support that I have received,” Watts said. “In addition, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to lead a staff that has been with me on this path for so

On July 1, 1972, Watts was named president of NCC, after working in staff positions for members of Congress. He is a Georgia native and a graduate of the University of Georgia and its Henry W. Grady School of Journalism.

Among his recognitions are the Poultry Industry Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Poultry and Food Distributors Association, awarded in January 2002, and the Merial Distinguished Poultry Industry Career Award of the Poultry Science Association, awarded in 2009.

“As president of NCC, George’s major concern has been with federal government relations – with what the government does, and equally important, what it doesn’t do,” Richard Lobb, NCC director of communications who has known Watts since 1990, told MEATPOULTRY.com.

Watts’ achievements include:

1. Avoiding adopting unnecessary and harmful legislation and regulations over the years. The broiler industry does not generally seek coverage under new government programs, Lobb said.

2. Managing issues for the industry over the years, such as salmonella reduction, H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza and USDA inspection issues, to keep them from becoming a crisis and affecting consumption of chicken.

3. Helping develop a joint-venture integrated chicken project in Russia (Elinar Broiler) that contributed to keeping the market open and growing in the early stages.

4. One of his biggest successes came at the beginning of his career when he coordinated the industry effort to win an exemption from the Nixon Administration’s price freeze on the first sale of chicken.

“Through the years, George has led the industry with discretion, tact and a realistic understanding of how the best interests of the industry can be protected and promoted,” Lobb said.

NCC will work with a recruiting firm to fill the president’s position.