AURORA, COLO. – The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prompted the delay or cancelation of trade shows, conferences, conventions and other gatherings across food industry. But the show rolled on for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which is hosting the organization’s Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting, in person and online, in Aurora, Colo., at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center July 27 to July 30.
“It’s really important that we did do this in-person meeting,” said Marvin Kokes, senior vice president for corporate relations and events at NCBA. “The issues that the cattle industry faces are challenging, and cattlemen like to get together and really look each other in the eye, and have a good face-to-face discussion so they can solve some of these issues and give the staff direction not only in Washington, DC, but also give them some direction on the checkoff contracts.”
Kokes said 400 individuals are attending the event in person, while another 170 people are participating virtually. And there are people still registering for the event, which is the only meeting happening right now at the Gaylord Rockies, Kokes said.
“So, we’re fortunate because of social distancing rules, we need a lot of meeting space,” he explained. “Plus, there’s rules with no more than 100 in a meeting room, specifically. So, we have to simulcast some of the larger events, general sessions.”
He added that NCBA’s relations with vendors were very important because “…everybody needs to be on the same page in terms of the laws and the rules because the last thing we want to do is have this hotel be shut down because of our guests not being in compliance with the what the state of Colorado wants us do.”
“People are very excited to be here,” Kokes said. "People are pent up, they want to go see their fellow ranchers. People are in very good spirits and happy to be part of a face-to-face meeting.”
The meeting so far has yielded the beef industry’s Long Range Plan which details priorities and producers' vision for promoting beef over the next five years. Industry objectives include:
- Grow global demand for US beef by promoting beef’s health and nutritional benefits, satisfying flavor and unparalleled safety.
- Improve industry-wide profitability by expanding processing capacity and developing improved value-capture models.
- Intensify efforts in researching, improving and communicating US beef industry sustainability.
- Make traceability a reality in the US beef industry.
“Summer Business Meeting is a perfect example of NCBA’s grassroots, member driven, policy-making process in action,” said Marty Smith, NCBA president. “This event is about bringing producers together to learn, discuss, vote, and adopt policy positions for the next year. These are policies designed by and for America’s cattle producers. I am proud to see that even with all of the challenges of 2020, we have had nearly 600 cattle producers join us in Denver.”
Kokes said the meeting is where “true grass-roots policy gets established…” and members of the state cattlemen associations were supportive given the nature of the issues at hand.
“The Cattle Health and Wellbeing Committee has some big issues to discuss,” he said. “We’ve also got some big issues in live cattle marketing that need to be discussed. Then, on the checkoff side, all the contractors to the checkoff program are making their presentations to their committees; that is being virtually. So, a lot of industry business is taking place.”