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NCBA provided updates and priorities during national convention and trade show

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Agricultural producers, industry partners and other stakeholders across the country gathered in New Orleans on Feb. 1-3 for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) 2023 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show. 

During the event, NCBA agreed on their policy priorities for the year ahead, offered cattle industry updates and elected a new team of officers. 

Policy priorities

To kick off the convention, NCBA’s executive committee approved the organization’s policy priorities on Feb. 1, with a focus on advancing animal disease preparedness, protecting voluntary conservation programs and defending producers from regulatory overreach. 

According to a NCBA Feb. 1 press release, these priorities include securing reauthorization of animal health provisions from the 2018 Farm Bill and advocating for expanded funding of the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank to protect against foot and mouth disease.   

Additionally, the association will focus on protecting and funding the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program and other voluntary conservation programs to incentivize management of natural resources and protecting the cattle industry from regulatory attacks under Waters of the U.S., the Endangered Species Act, emissions reporting, etc.

“Our focus is to help create opportunity for America’s cattle producers and fight to make sure the federal government does not damage our industry,” said NCBA President-Elect Todd Wilkinson. “Cattle producers have been caretakers of the land and livestock for decades and are committed to conserving this country’s natural resources while producing high-quality beef.”

Wilkinson further noted one of the largest opportunities NCBA has to help cattle producers this year is through passing a successful 2023 Farm Bill. 

Potential drought relief, producer profitability 

On Feb. 2, the convention hosted the popular CattleFax Outlook Seminar, featuring Meterologist Matt Makens and CattleFax’s Vice President of Industry Relations and Analysis Kevin Good to share updates on current drought conditions and the cattle market.

To begin, Makens noted the latest weather forecast only shows a 14 percent probability of the existence of La Niña this spring, with the probability falling lower by summer months. 

This means a pattern change may occur – with a neutral phase taking control for several months as La Niña weakens before giving El Niño a chance to grow this summer and into the fall, Makens explained. 

With La Niña in the rearview mirror, he further suggested drought conditions may improve and producers will likely see more favorable growing seasons and healthier soils.

“I’m not trying to imply doing away with La Niña fixes everything. An El Niño can cause drought across the northern states. There is no win-win for everyone in any weather pattern,” Makens added. “But moisture conditions should improve for the West in the second half of this year.”

When it comes to the cattle market, Good reported U.S. beef cow inventories have fallen 1.5 million head from cycle highs, and the 2023 beef cow herd is expected to be down another million head to nearly 29.2 million.

Additionally, Good noted feeder cattle and calf supplies outside of feedyards will be 400,000 to 450,000 head smaller than 2022 at 25.1 million.

Cattle on feed inventories are expected to begin at 300,000 to 400,000 head below last year – at 14.3 million head – and remain smaller. Commercial fed slaughter in 2023 is forecast to decline by 750,000 to 800,000, to 25.6 million head.

“With drought-forced placement and culling, beef production was record large in 2022 at 28.3 billion pounds. Expect production to drop over the next several years – declining four to five percent in 2023 to 27 billion pounds,” Good said. “The decline in production in 2023 will lead to a 2.2 pound decline in net beef supply to 57 pounds per person annually.”

Good also predicted all cattle classes are expected to trade higher, and prices are expected to continue to trend upward. 

In fact, he said the average 2023 fed steer price will be $158 per hundredweight (cwt), up $13 per cwt from 2022, with a range of $150 to $172 per cwt throughout the year. Utility cows will average $100 per cwt with a range of $75 to $115 per cwt, and bred cows will average $2,100 per cwt with a range of $1,900 to $2,300 for load lots of quality, running-age cows.

Lastly, Good offered insight into beef demand, noting although domestic beef demand has softened, it remains historically strong, and consumers have shown willingness to continue to buy beef at a higher range.

He also mentioned global protein demand has continued to rise and expects tighter global protein supplies to support prices in 2023. 

“After more than 20 percent of growth across the last two years, U.S. beef exports are expected to moderate, declining three percent in 2023 to 3.5 billion pounds,” he said.

New team takes office, discuss priorities

During the last day of the event, NCBA welcomed a new team of officers, including Wilkinson as the new president of the association.

A Feb. 3 NCBA press release noted Wilkinson owns and operates Wilkinson Livestock in De Smet, S.D. alongside his son, while also practicing law, in which he specializes in business transactions, estate planning and probate, real estate and agricultural law. 

“My philosophy going into this next year is that I’m going to put on boxing gloves, and I’m going to be swinging for the industry,” Wilkinson said. “I’m going to bring the same level of passion I bring for my own family and business to this organization.” 

“I think it’s important to fight back and protect this industry from the people who want to put us out of business. I also think this will unite cattle producers in the future,” he added.

He continued, “Part of the reason I’m doing this is to make sure this industry is here for my grandchildren and their grandchildren. I want them to have the opportunity to come back on this piece of ground and run cattle 100 years from now. I’m passionate about NCBA, and I won’t back up an inch on my commitment to this organization. As long as I am walking this earth, I want to make things a little bit better, and NCBA is one of the ways I think I can do that.”

Additionally, the association elected their 2023 officer team, which was approved by the NCBA board of directors. 

Mark Eisele of Wyoming was named president-elect, and Buck Wehrbein of Nebraska was elected vice president. 

Brad Hastings of Texas was named NCBA treasurer, Virginia Cattleman Gene Copenhaver was elected chair of the NCBA Policy Division and Tim Schwab of Indiana was elected policy vice chair. 

Clark Price of North Dakota and Dan Gattis of Texas were elected as chair and vice chair of the NCBA Federation Division, respectively.

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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