Co. beef producers
form Kentucky Cattlemens chapter
is to help farmers stay informed, connected
Helen E. McKinney
(August 2008) Even though he didnt grow up on a
farm, Tee Rays love of rural life led him to purchase his aunts
Ballardsville, Ky., beef cattle farm nearly a decade ago. Now he has
become instrumental in helping to form an Oldham County chapter of the
Kentucky Cattlemens Association. Founded in 1973 and based in
Lexington, the statewide association provides information to both producers
and the state Legislature in helping develop programs and policies to
promote the beef cattle industry.
I always wanted to be involved in farming, said Ray, 47,
an Oldham County resident.
A former dairy, his aunts farm has been in his family since 1936.
The farm was actually the first in Oldham County to have refrigerated
milk storage in 1937. Ray is raising 15 registered Black Angus cows,
one bull and three donkeys on his 112-acre property.
Ray raises 30 acres of alfalfa and orchard grass. His move to Oldham
County from Lyndon, Ky., was prompted by a desire for his children to
attend Oldham County schools, but he believes he made a smart move for
other reasons as well.
The cattle industry is a lot bigger in Kentucky than people realize,
said Ray, who still runs his nursery business, The Bob Ray Co., from
Lyndon. Oldham County ranks seventh in the state in beef cattle production.
Due to the fact that a lot of prominent people in Oldham County are
raising cattle, Ray said he thought an effort should be made to get
these people together. A Kentucky Cattlemens Association chapter
would provide a much needed networking outlet, aid in raising better
quality products, keep a check on prices and provide better buying power.
Traci Missun, Oldham County Extension Agent for Agricultural and Natural
Resources, said she believes that one of the most positive things a
chapter will do is show that agriculture still exists in the county.
She advises nonbelievers to just take a drive down any side road in
the county and theyll soon understand what she means.
If you dont travel these roads, you just dont realize
that farming still exists there, said Missun. Oldham County
has a long-standing agricultural heritage, and I think the county Cattlemens
Association will help bring that to our attention.
The Kentucky Cattlemens Association, formerly known as the Kentucky
Beef Cattle Association, was initially formed to speak as a political
voice for the beef industry in the state. In June 1992, members of the
KBCA voted to restructure the organization and change its name to the
Kentucky Cattlemens Association.
cattle roam Caldwell Willigs
Rivercrest Farm in Prospect. He sells
replacement heifers to area
farmers and also processed and
packaged beef to consumers.
In its beginning, the association emphasized activities,
such as feeder calf sales and bull tests, and organizers focused strictly
on raising better beef cattle. Buyers were brought in from Canada and
other countries. Tours of others states were offered, and the group
exhibited at the North American Livestock Expo.
One of the driving factors in establishing the KBCA was Lincoln County,
Ky., resident Smith T. Powell. He traveled the state speaking about
the need for a beef industry organization, thus earning the title, the
Father of KBCA.
The Kentucky Cattlemens Association is a non-profit trade
association that has 96 county-based associations, said Dave Maples,
the groups executive vice president. The mission of the
state associations is to be a strong proactive voice for all of Kentuckys
Beef Farm Families and to serve as a resource for information and education
for producers, consumers and the industry, and to be a catalyst for
enhancing producers profitability.
Maples family near Lexington has been in the farming and cattle
industry for seven generations. He has been involved in all aspects
of the industry from production to policy to beef promotion.
The Kentucky Cattlemens Association has grown steadily over the
past 12 years, said Maples. He is in his 10th year as its vice president.
There are 9,066 members in 120 Kentucky counties.
Kentucky Cattlemens Association
on Kentucky Cattle
Kentucky is the largest cattle-producing
state east of the Mississippi River, with more than 1.1 million
head of cattle.
Kentucky ranks fifth nationally in number of beef
cattle-producing farms in the nation.
Based in Lexington, the Kentucky Cattlemens Association
has 93 chapters representing all of the states 120 counties.
It works to protect and advocate for the states 40,000
cattle producers. It also provides education to producers, consumers
and the industry, while working to enhance producer profitability.
Until recently, Oldham County fell under the Louisville
Area Cattlemens Association chapter, which includes Jefferson,
Spencer and Bullitt counties. About 50 people showed up at an initial
meeting in May 2008, indicating enough interest to officially form an
Oldham County chapter, said Missun.
In the past, producers like Ray have had to join the Louisville or the
Henry County chapters. The last estimate provided by Kentucky Ag Statistics
Service showed around 7,500 head of cattle (beef and dairy included),
enforcing the idea of a substantial number of cattle in the county.
Ray has been a member of the Henry County chapter for the past three
years and said he is thrilled at the prospect of an Oldham County chapter.
He has traveled to learn more about the Kentucky Cattlemens Association
and thinks that good leadership will keep an interest in it.
Some members have been active in other organizations, such as the Kentucky
Angus Association. With ideas and expertise drawn from all areas, the
chapter has a better chance of succeeding.
But for Ray, experience is sometimes the best teacher. You learn
a lot from making mistakes, he said.
Caldwell Willig grew up on his familys Rivercrest Farm in Prospect
but spent most of his career operating his own telecommunications business
in Louisville. He moved back onto the farm in 1977 and three years ago
sold his business to take over the farming operation of crossbreeding
Angus and Tarentaise beef cattle. The 65-head operation sells replacement
heifers to area farmers, steers in the states top-quality markets
and also processed beef directly to consumers.
To orient his move to farming, he completed the eight-class series of
Master Cattlemen classes last year and is still taking advanced classes
through the University of Kentuckys Agricultural Extension Service
program. These programs are administered through local extension offices
in conjunction with the KCA and feature UK agricultural professors as
instructors. Membership in the KCA pays for the class fees for those
taking the course.
County beef producer
Tee Ray raises Black Angus cattle on
his farm. He has led the recent effort
to organize a new chapter of the
Kentucky Cattlemens Association.
The next meeting is set for
Sept. 9 in Buckner.
Willig, 55, who was among those attending the initial
meeting of the Oldham County chapter of KCA, said he strongly
recommends the Master Cattlemens classes for anyone who
wants to learn about the beef industry. He believes forming a local
chapter will help area farmers get acquainted and stay abreast of trends
and news in the industry.
I initially joined the association to explore the various options
of selling cattle in niche markets, and thats how we began selling
beef directly to consumers, said Willig. I have learned
many things that I certainly would not have thought of on my own.
Jon Bednarski, owner of Sherwood Acres Beef in La Grange, said that
the county has grown so quickly that people often forget about its agricultural
impact. A local Cattlemens chapter would give the farmers a voice
in the community, he said.
He cites a chapter as a great opportunity to network, whether
you are buying hay, trading bulls or selling cattle. You can find out
how many others are in need of what you need or have, and share that
A new event this year that Bednarski helped organize was Town And Country
Day. An event that combined rural and urban ideas, It introduced
people to products and services they did not know were available,
Taking Master Cattlemen classes through the extension office is what
got Bednarski interested in raising beef. His farm of Belted Galloways
is a result of putting to use what he learned in these 11-month classes.
Bednarski raises these Belted
Galloways at his Sherwood Acres
Beef Farm near La Grange, Ky. He
sells the processed and packaged
beef directly to consumers.
As a start-up farmer, it gave me direction as to
what area I wanted to go into, he said. He has also attended Advanced
Master Cattlemen classes and Master Grazers classes.
Were trying to prove to the county that farming is a viable
option for people.
Even though horses are the number one agricultural business in Oldham
County, there are many producers still raising cattle. Farming
is important in preserving the rural and suburban quality of Oldham
County, Missun said.
Like its sister chapters in nearby Henry and Trimble counties, the new
Oldham County chapter plans to hold quarterly meetings and invite experts
to speak about farming trends. The annual dues of $35 for individuals
and $50 for joint membership will include membership in the state organization.
Affiliate-corporate memberships would be $100 per year. The next meeting,
at which prospective charter members will vote on proposed bylaws, is
set for 6 p.m. Sept. 9 at the John W. Black Community Center in Bucker.
Nominations also are being taken for officers, to be voted on at the
It is very important to get a new organization off to a good start,
said Maples. Oldham County has a very strong core group that will
be able to get good people to work together.
Maples stressed his idea that you have to have a plan, and then you
have to get the right people to implement the plan. I think you
will see some good things come from cattlemen in Oldham County.
For more information, contact Traci Missun at
the Oldham County Agricultural Extension Office at (502) 222-9453.
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