Former Wyoming legislator supports WSGA’s mission: Representing ag community
Wyoming native Eli Bebout found a passion for politics after attending school in Shoshoni. After graduating from the University of Wyoming with a degree in electrical engineering, being a businessman, raising a family and becoming aware of the many issues in the state, he saw a need to serve.
“In Wyoming, you have to be a jack of all trades and a master of none,” he says. “You have to be flexible and willing to take risks to survive in the Wyoming economy.”
Currently, he is active in the minerals, construction, real estate and agriculture industries.
Eli served in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1987-2000, and was elected as Speaker of the House in his last term. After being appointed to fill Sen. Bob Peck’s seat in the Wyoming Senate in 2007, he was re-elected to three more terms and served as President of the Senate from 2018-2020, when he became the only legislator to ever serve as both Speaker of the House and President of the Senate.
During his long tenure in the legislature, Eli recalls working with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA.)
Importance of WSGA
“WSGA is a critical organization in our state, not only as a producer, but also in the political arenas of Wyoming and Washington, D.C.,” he says.
Eli recalls working with WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna dealing with issues impacting the state and the agriculture industry.
“I always listened carefully to what WSGA had to say on different issues. They have been a great resource to me, the Wyoming Legislature, our state’s leadership and especially to people who don’t understand our state,” he shares.
WSGA plays a large role in education and explaining issues effecting the state. Many topics discussed revolve around water, he adds.
“There always has been a movement to pass instream flow designations, which has been an important and serious issue, in addition to development of our natural resources,” notes Eli. “The proper development of our natural resources doesn’t mean shutting down mineral development or ag related issues, but working together.”
“We worked diligently with WSGA and other organizations who wanted proper development of our natural resources, particularly on federal land – a significant part of this included grazing,” he says.
A popular environmental slogan heard throughout the West in the 1990s was, “Cattle Free By ’93,” with the goal to eliminate cattle grazing on public lands. He continues by saying, “Those battles were always out there trying to impact grazing on federal forest leases. One cannot forget the battle we had and continue to have with the Environmental Protection Agency regarding wolves and grizzly bears.”
Throughout his time in the House and Senate, organizations such as WSGA were helpful and beneficial to him and the state.
“There were a lot of issues we worked together on,” he says.
Celebrating WSGA’s anniversary
“Celebrating 150 years for WSGA is a real milestone,” Eli says. “There are some incredible Wyoming citizens who have been members of WSGA, who have gone on to do bigger things in politics.”
These successful members include many members of the legislature, including speakers and presidents, the 18th Governor of Wyoming Nels Hansen Smith and the 26th Governor Clifford Peter Hansen, he adds. More recently the list includes former Gov. Mead and current Gov. Gordon.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved at the level I was and to serve the great state of Wyoming and its citizens on a political platform,” he explains. “I’ve always had tremendous support from WSGA, which I’ll forever be thankful for. It certainly has been a great run serving the state for 28 years.”
“Agriculture has always been and will continue to be an important part of our state,” he concludes.
Brittany Gunn is editor the of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.