A common thread
The common thread to all those issues is that the solutions – and often the causes – lie at least in part in Washington, D.C., he says. That makes it imperative that beef producers be at the table.
“We need to keep working to be heard. We’re a small sector of the world’s population and business, and we have a lot of outside groups attacking us. The challenge is to speak with one voice and get our message across.
“I’m a big believer in a state and national relationship where we work hand in hand and as partners with all the states and their beef councils and affiliates as well as the national level of NCBA,” he says. “It takes all of us to get the job done.”
Alexander is a veteran of almost two decades of volunteer work on behalf of his local, state and national industry.
He began by serving as the president of his local Stanton County Cattlemen’s Association in the late 1980s. He was also chosen to participate in the Nebraska LEAD Program, a nationally recognized leadership program. He later served as president of the Nebraska Cattlemen. That eventually led to national-level responsibility as chairman of NCBA’s Federation Division, much of that on the executive committee. He also served six years on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the group charged with managing the national beef checkoff.
“I’ve been involved with NCBA a little over 15 years, in addition to my volunteer work at the local and state levels. I guess you could say I have a little bit of a foundation there,” Alexander chuckles.
Alexander is a robust, imposing man, with a booming voice and a ready smile. He exudes calmness and confidence, but also approachability; he seems comfortable around friends and strangers alike.
He’s the owner of Alexander Cattle & Farms, located in northeast Nebraska, about 70 miles southwest of Sioux City, IA. He and his son Josh operate the 2,000-acre corn/alfalfa farm that markets about 12,000 head of fed cattle annually.
Alexander grew up on the Pilger operation, working with his father Richard and grandfather. He says his first real experience away from the small town of 378 people was his college education at South Dakota State University, where he earned a full ride to play football.
He started a few games as a freshman and was the regular starting linebacker his last three seasons. He co-captained the team his senior year and earned first-team, all-conference honors. In Brookings, he also met and married his wife Debra, who was a varsity cheerleader at SDSU at that time.
His degree is in ag economics, a major Alexander says he selected for the versatility it offered. “I figured I could go in a lot of different directions. I knew I would come back to the farm eventually, but I wanted some other experiences first.”
So, Alexander worked 10 years in sales and management with FMC Corp., serving in various locations in the Midwest. All along, he remained active as a silent partner in the home farm and did the operation’s books, even as a college student.
The watershed moment in his career came when he was offered a transfer to California. “I figured that if we moved to California, we’d probably stay there,” he says. “It was time to go home.”
So, the family returned to Pilger in 1984. His father passed away in 2004 and son Josh returned to the family operation in 2006 after graduating from SDSU and spending a few years working off the farm.