SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — On Jan. 30, the annual Cattle Industry Convention concluded with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (N.C.B.A.) board of directors meeting and annual membership meeting. Members voted on leadership and policies for 2010 during the event.

After Steve Foglesong, owner of Black Gold Ranch in Illinois, was elected to succeed Gary Voogt as N.C.B.A.’s new president, he encouraged N.C.B.A. members to get engaged in the issues and tell their story to both the public and lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

“Our industry has a great story to tell,” Mr. Foglesong said. “Our numbers may be small, but when each of us engages and makes our voice heard, we are a force to be reckoned with.”

During the convention, the N.C.B.A. board approved a new organization structure, as presented by the Governance Task Force. The board also voted unanimously to approve a dues increase to help ensure the organization is on sound financial footing. Dues now start at $100 for cow-calf members. Feeder assessments increased from 10 cents to 12.5 cents per head. The Allied Industry Council also voted to increase its member dues from $17,500 to $25,000.

Members also approved policy recommendations to guide N.C.B.A. efforts in Washington, D.C. in 2010. They approved policy calling for reform of the Equal Access to Justice Act (E.A.J.A.) in the area of federal lands, property rights and land management. Although E.A.J.A. was established by Congress to ensure individuals, small businesses or public-interest groups with limited financial resources could seek judicial recourse from unreasonable government actions, a lack of federal oversight has allowed the law to be abused, particularly by environmental-activist organizations which often target farmers and ranchers under the guise of "public interest," N.C.B.A. claims.

During a six-year period, non-profit environmental groups have filed more than 1,500 lawsuits and, in turn, the federal government has paid out billions in taxpayer dollars in settlements and legal fees under E.A.J.A. and other fee-shifting statutes in cases against the U.S. government.

Members also passed policy calling on N.C.B.A. to urge Congress to immediately ratify the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (K.O.R.U.S. F.T.A). — which N.C.B.A. calls “one of the most important bilateral trade agreements in the history of the U.S. beef industry.” U.S. competitors such as Australia are close to finalizing free-trade agreements with Korea, putting U.S. competitiveness at risk for years to come, said South Korean Economic Minister Choi, who addressed attendees at last week’s economic markets committee meeting.

During the convention, Bill Donald of Montana, former vice-president, was confirmed as the new president-elect, and former Federation division chairman J.D. Alexander of Nebraska was elected to succeed Mr. Donald as vice-president. Other newly-elected officers include: Scott George, Wyoming, federation division chairman; David Dick, Missouri, federation division vice chairman; Bruce Hafenfeld, California, policy division chairman; and Bob McCann, Texas, policy division vice-chairman.

More than 6,000 people attended this year’s convention.