NCBA approves amendments to strengthen grass roots involvement.

Key amendments approved by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) board of directors will give U.S. cow/calf producers more member input into NCBA policy development.

This progress was made by cattle producers to strengthen "grass roots" representation in the cattle industry's major organization during the Cattle Industry Summer Conference held in Denver in August.

The proposed NCBA bylaws allow the NCBA cow/calf, seedstock and feeder councils to propose and consider NCBA policy that will proceed on to either an NCBA committee or the board of directors. Once the NCBA board acts on the proposed new or amended policy, members can still raise the policy for a vote of NCBA members at large.

One amendment will allow more member participation by making NCBA state affiliate representation the same size on both the board and committees - the original proposed bylaws would have reduced the committee size by one-half.

The second amendment allows a simple majority vote for policy approval at the NCBA stakeholder meeting. Proposed bylaws would have required a two-thirds majority.

Representatives from NCBA affiliates in Montana and Kansas worked together this summer to produce agreements giving individual members a stronger voice in developing NCBA policy.

The compromise is a very good balance of weighted voting based on members' dues and simple majority member voting, according to Keith Bales, president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

The NCBA board also approved a recommendation addressing "state of origin" dues.

Under the recommendation, cow/calf producers who retain ownership of their cattle can specify that NCBA dues assessed on their cattle by the feedlot be credited to the animals' state of origin. The cattle must be ranch-raised, the producer must be a member of NCBA, and the state of origin must be an NCBA affiliate.

"These kinds of changes to give individual members more say in NCBA simply would not have happened without affiliated states establishing priority issues and working together to achieve those priorities," says Bales.

All NCBA members will receive a copy of the proposed changes this fall and can then vote on them at the NCBA 2001 Annual Convention in San Antonio next February.