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Proud look back; keeping sharp eye on future to strengthen industry

Idaho Cattle Association: 100 years raising beef

As part of the Idaho Cattle Association’s 100th celebration, the organization trailed 25 pairs of Texas Longhorn cattle down Chinden Boulevard in Boise in July.

Contributed photo / Brenda Robinson
As part of the Idaho Cattle Association’s 100th celebration, the organization trailed 25 pairs of Texas Longhorn cattle down Chinden Boulevard in Boise in July.

The Idaho Cattle Association (ICA) recently celebrated 100 years of raising beef during a weeklong convention held in Boise, July 14-18.

This opportunity brought feeders, ranchers and industry supporters together to celebrate a monumental milestone and celebrate the tenacity and determination, endurance and perseverance that have kept the cattle industry viable.

Attendees had the chance to commemorate a once-in-a-lifetime achievement and learn from industry experts and social trendsetters during educational seminars and interactive workshops.

It all started in 1915, at a meeting held in Mackay where the constitution and bylaws of an Idaho livestock organization were drawn up and the start of the United Cattle and Horse Growers Association of Idaho was born. Decades later that name was changed to the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association. That tiny organization that had only one paying member has today grown into the Idaho Cattle Association, which has united more than 1,000 members throughout the state.

Idaho cattle producers feel fortunate to have a governor, lieutenant governor, and other congressional delegates who not only understand and support the beef industry, but several themselves also raise livestock.

Idaho Senator James E. Risch commented, “When I started in legislature in 1975, I was the only one that actually owned a cow!”

Cattle drives are iconic to our heritage and way of life. With a remembrance to the past, the ICA president and past presidents, led by Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter and Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, trailed 25 pairs of Texas Longhorn cattle through town.

This cattle drive went approximately one-and-a-half miles down Chinden Boulevard before turning into the fairgrounds. Traffic was stopped for less than two hours as Garden City police escorted this procession. One police officer estimated approximately 3,500-4,000 people lined the usually busy street to get a glimpse of this historic happening.

Celebrating their centennial this year, as well, was the Snake River Stampede Rodeo. Cattle producers were treated to a performance of this loudest, fastest show on earth after enjoying a social and dinner hosted by the University of Idaho at the Idaho Center Horse Park.

A luncheon hosted by the Idaho Beef Council involved a panel of seven millennials sharing dialogue with beef industry folks. A millennial is a person born between the years 1980-2000.

This panel included six ladies and one gentleman in their early 30s, married with children. Discussion ranged from buying habits, what and who shapes their opinions, and how they feel about the way beef is being raised. The main concern for these millennials was what to safely feed their growing families.

Social media is the main source of information millennials rely on. The crowd of aging ranchers found it hard to believe that none of these panelists took a newspaper. This reiterates how important the beef industry’s job of educating their consumers is by using social networking and online advertising campaigns.

Following the millennials, a panel of seven food service operators talked about marketing to consumers. These food service operators all agreed that price does have an impact on what consumers purchase.

Wrapping up the week, the Idaho Beef Council hosted Beef Day at the Races held at the Les Bois Racetrack. Fans were treated to half-priced hamburgers and hot dogs while watching exciting horseracing action.

Idaho cattle producers are passionate about raising top quality beef even though their state raises only 2 percent of the total number of cattle in the United States. Nearly every county in Idaho raises cattle of some kind with the majority coming from the southern counties.

The appearance of cattle and their owners has changed over a century, yet cattlemen and women in 2015 are not really any different than they were in 1915. These hardy folks still show resilience to overcome, dedication to land and livestock, and issues management remains the same.

Producers of today proudly remember the past, while keeping a sharp eye on the future, continuing to strengthen their industry throughout the next 100 years; tending to the task at hand of “feeding the future”.

Shelley Neal is a resident of Lucile;


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