The 24th Annual R-CALF USA National Convention themed “American Spirit” ended last week in Rapid City, South Dakota, after two impactful days of remarkable speakers, a producer-aimed trade show and a variety of networking opportunities.
Hundreds of American cattle and sheep farmers and ranchers from across the nation gathered in the Black Hills to learn more about the issues their respective industries are currently facing. The convention echoed throughout the country as thousands of additional guests livestreamed the event on CattleUSA.com.
At its business session, members drafted proposed policy on subjects such as animal health, private property rights, checkoff and marketing. And nominations were received to replace outgoing directors in Regions IV (Ariz. and N.M.), V (Texas), VI (Kan., Mo., and Okla.), and IX (Ala., Fla., and Ga.). Cattle-owning members will vote by ballot to approve the proposed policies and director nominees in the coming months.
Attendees and online viewers heard 15 presentations focused on defending the United States cattle and sheep industries against ongoing consolidation, protecting private property rights, resolving price-depressing imports and soaring input costs, and curbing the globalized effort to control the food supply and the independent farmers and ranchers who produce it.
Dutch farmers’ advocate and political commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek gave the keynote address. Other speakers included: U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.); U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.); USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux; and more.
The event also included a sheep industry panel featuring Carson Jorgensen, Bill Kluck, Michael Bardsley and John Espil; and a cattle industry panel featuring R-CALF USA board members.
“As I took in the convention, something that stood out to me is we have a globalization problem,” said R-CALF USA President Brett Kenzy. “R-CALF has been leery of globalism for years and it’s clear this issue is at our doorstep, and we must fight for our sovereignty.
“Globalism is a genie we can’t put back in a bottle, everything from Erica Valdez speaking about ranching at the border, Charles Benoit explaining how tariffs can rebalance trade, how long and hard we’ve fought for accurate labeling, the lack of clear ground rules between cattlemen and global corporations that control them, and then our troubles in fixing the mandatory beef checkoff program that can’t even promote American beef in America, It’s clear we have some work to do when it comes to globalism, and I am thankful R-CALF USA has been at the forefront of these issues.”
“I’m so glad I made the trek and told my story,” said rancher and advocate Coy Young about his experience speaking at the event. “I really connected with a lot of unbelievable, humble, grateful, and true farmers and ranchers.
Young, a founder of the No Rancher Left Behind virtual support group, said he had countless people come up and thank him for fighting and sharing his story, and that attending the convention was one of the best experiences he’s ever had.
“I’m more than ready and available to lead any fight to save the very industry that drove me to almost taking my own life, because there are so many good people in this industry,” Young said adding, “USA beef is not to be taken advantage of any longer.”
“The speakers, vendors and venue were all so good. All-in-all just a great convention,” said attendee Nina Weinreis. “I don’t know anywhere else where you could hear all the information that was presented.
“There is a great need for this organization,” Weinreis commented. “The general population is so unaware of what is going on.”
All convention presentations are available on the R-CALF USA YouTube channel.
Award recipients included: Grossenburg Implement, Fort Pierre Livestock Auction, Coy Young, Cattle Producers of Washington, La Junta Livestock Commission Inc., Matt Paulsen, Dr. Zane and Barb Leininger, Dean and Delia Johnson, Dennis Hanson, and Dr. Max Thornsberry, DVM.
“What an honor it is to host an event that surrounds you with salt of the earth people that share the same passion for such an amazing industry,” said R-CALF USA Marketing Director Jaiden Moreland. “We look forward to doing it again in 2024!”
R-CALF USA will host its 25th Anniversary National Convention and Trade Show, June 19-21, 2024, at The Lodge at Deadwood in Deadwood, South Dakota. Sponsor and trade show vendor spots are available, for more information visit www.RCALFconvention.com. View the 2023 Convention photos here.