About 5,000 cattle producers gathered for the 2006 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show, Feb. 1-4 in Denver, CO. Held in conjunction were the annual meetings of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB), American National CattleWomen (ANCW) and Cattle-Fax.

The meeting was the 10th anniversary of NCBA's creation via the merger of the National Cattlemen's Association and National Live Stock and Meat Board.

Among the convention highlights and award winners were:

The NCBA elected a new slate of officers for 2006. Mike John, a Huntsville, MO, cattleman, assumes the role of president. John is also director of MFA Health Track Beef Alliance in Columbia, MO.

Waynesville, NC, cattleman John Queen is NCBA president-elect, while Paul Hitch, an Oklahoma cattle feeder and stocker operator, is vice president.

NCBA's policy division chair is Andy Groseta, Cottonwood, AZ; Steve Fogelsong, Astoria, IL, is vice chairman. NCBA's federation division, comprised of representatives of participating state beef councils, will be led by Larry Jones, Holcomb, KS. Gary Voogt, Marne, MI, will serve as vice chairman.

A year ago, Mike Johanns gave his first speech as USDA Ag Secretary at the 2005 Cattle Industry Annual Convention. At that time, 64% of international markets were still closed to U.S. beef. This year, Johanns reported Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have resumed trade of various beef products.

Of course, the outstanding market challenge is Japan. Johanns said USDA is investigating the U.S. failure to meet terms of its export agreement with Japan. Johanns says USDA is working comprehensively to reopen the Japan market, and is against the U.S. imposing sanctions on Japan.

“International standards in regard to BSE and trade are very clear; we're committed to making decisions based on those standards,” he adds. “However, in the case of Japan, we have actually gone beyond that.”

He also underscored the safety of the U.S. beef supply, emphasizing USDA's stringent BSE surveillance the past two years. To date, USDA has tested an average of 1,000 high-risk cattle/day for BSE.

In 2004, Johanns asked USDA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) to review that BSE enhanced-surveillance program, and OIG recently released its report.

“The OIG report concludes there is no evidence that specified risk materials entered the food supply, ever,” Johanns said, adding that USDA agencies have begun implementing suggestions made by the OIG in their report.

Jay O'Brien, a cattleman from Amarillo, TX, is 2006 CBB chairman. O'Brien is a managing partner in JA Cattle Co., JJOB Ltd., and partner in Corsino Cattle Co.

Other officers include Ken Stielow, Bar S Ranch in Paradise, KS, serving as vice president; and Dave Bateman, an Illinois beef producer, serving as secretary-treasurer.

The CBB reported that while total demand growth for beef since 1998 remains above 20%, beef demand dipped slightly in 2005.

“We had such a stellar growth year in 2004 that we didn't top that mark in 2005, even though we continued to enjoy terrific strength in the market, including strong prices for cattle throughout the year,” says Al Svajgr, former CBB chairman and Cozad, NE, cattleman.

The Beef Demand Index decreased 3.6% in 2005 after increasing nearly 8% in 2004. Svajgr says Cattle-Fax estimates increased demand since 1998 has added $250/head to the price of fed cattle and $200/head to the calf price.

John Maddux, Imperial, NE, is Cattle-Fax president. He's the owner of Bentz Valley, Inc., a cow-calf and yearling operation. Meanwhile, Ned Ellis, Fort Deposit, AL, was elected vice president of Cattle-Fax. He owns Circle E Farms, a 450-head ChiAngus operation.

Nancy Stirling-Neuhauser, Midland, SD, is the ANCW's 55th president. She was chair of the South Dakota State Beef Cookoff for 16 years, and state host chair of the National Beef Cookoff in 2005. She and husband Ray are cow-calf operators.