POWELL, Wyo. — If the first week in office is any indication, it's going to be a whirlwind year for Scott George, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
George took office as head of the beef industry trade association Feb. 9 in Tampa, Fla. Before he returned home to his Heart Mountain farm and ranch operation at mid-week, he had visited with cattle industry groups in Kentucky, Louisiana, Virginia and Florida. With only a brief stopover, he was on the go again for a weekend face-to-face with cattlemen in Wisconsin.
"You're invited to address a lot of state cattlemen's associations," said George.
He didn't seem to mind, expressing amazement at the size and variation of cattle producing operations in the different states.
"The average Virginia cattle operation has only about 20 head," he said. "It might be 25 head in Kentucky, and then there's Florida, where there are operations of 40,000 and 45,000 head."
The NCBA represents U.S. cattle producers with more than 28,000 individual members and 64 state affiliate, breed and industry organizations — in all, about 230,000 cattle breeders, producers and feeders. NCBA works to advance the cattle industry's policy positions and economic interests.
Scott George has two entrees to the beef cattlemen's association. With his brothers, Arley and Lynn, he is a second-generation dairy farmer on Heart Mountain. His parents homesteaded between Powell and Cody in 1947 and established the George Dairy in 1954. About 10 years ago, the brothers also established a beef cattle herd.
George points out that dairy cattle are also beef cattle, and it is not incongruous to have a dairyman in a beef cattlemen's trade association.
"About 28 percent of the beef supply in this country comes from dairy cattle," he noted. "After cows have been milked for years, they have a 'change of career' and become part of the beef food supply. That's kinda the reason I'm in there."
The George Dairy Farm is big business.
"We milk 550 cattle twice a day — at 1 a.m. and 1 p.m.," Scott said. "In addition, there are a lot of hours of feeding and caring."
He noted that five of his nephews are also associated with the operation.
There are about 60 mother cows in the beef cattle herd. The Georges plan to add another 20 or more heifers in the coming year as they expand the cow/calf production.
"We raise a lot of our corn and buy some from neighbors," Scott said. "We raise most of our own hay and buy some from neighbors."
The Georges are also dealers for American Breeders Service, a phase of the business headed up by Lynn George. They have a mobile barn and conduct custom Artificial Insemination and training programs, breeding several thousand beef cattle each year.
Scott George grew into beef cattle leadership through work with the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation and the Wyoming Beef Council. He served as both chairman of the Wyoming Beef Council and national director to the Federation of State Beef Councils.
Scott George has been an influential supporter of the beef check off program, where participating producers pay $1 a head for each cow, calf or bull sold. NCBA is a big contractor with the beef check off program, bidding for project money in promotion of beef in the marketplace and in research on consumer preferences, nutrition and disease issues.
"We don't make any money, other than cost recovery, as contractors to the check off program," said George. "But the NCBA takes a lot of ownership in research to give consumers choice and a good eating experience."
Two other Wyoming cattlemen also hold office in 2013 for the NCBA. They are Phillip Ellis of Chugwater, chairman of the policy division, and Dave True of Casper, secretary-treasurer.
Scott George attended Brigham Young University to study dairying. He served a two-year mission for the LDS Church in northern Texas before returning to the Heart Mountain dairy full-time in 1977. He and his wife Debra have nine children between them, including Jillian, the youngest, who still lives at home.
George Farms is located on Lane 17, about 12 miles northeast of Cody and 14 miles southwest of Powell.
Information from: Powell (Wyo.) Tribune, http://www.powelltribune.com