Evan Cooper of Great Bend attended the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) Leadership Conference in Topeka. He was among 15 producers to participate in the event, which is designed to expose attendees to services provided by KLA and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the legislative process, industry advocacy and various aspects of beef marketing.
The group attended a Senate Agriculture Committee meeting and heard from KLA lobbyists on how they protect member interests during the legislative process. Conference attendees also had a chance to meet with their respective legislators to discuss important beef and dairy industry issues.
As a part of the conference, members took part in an interactive advocacy training session led by KLA staff and WIBW-Topeka farm broadcasters Kelly Lenz and Greg Akagi. Participants were given an overview of the importance of being an industry advocate and the various social media outlets available to help them reach consumers who want to know more about how and where their food is produced. Debbie Lyons-Blythe, a rancher from White City, shared with the group how she has implemented advocacy into her daily routine through Facebook, Twitter and, most notably, the use of her blog, “Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch.” Lyons-Blythe regularly reaches thousands of consumers across the U.S. with her positive messages.
The class immediately put this training to work while distributing samples of flat iron and ribeye steaks to consumers at Dillons and Hy-Vee grocery stores. They answered customer questions about beef nutrition and cooking methods.
Class members also visited U.S. Foods and Texas Roadhouse to learn more about how beef is sold at the foodservice level. Additionally, Chef Alli Winter conducted a cooking demonstration for the group where she prepared an appetizer, soup and sandwich using various cuts of beef.
This year’s class brings the total number of graduates of the leadership training program to 632 since it was initiated in 1981. Sponsors of the annual event included Central Life Sciences; Farm Credit Associations of Kansas; Kennedy and Coe, LLC; and the Kansas Livestock Foundation.
KLA is a trade organization representing the state’s livestock business on legislative, regulatory and industry issues at both the state and federal levels. The association’s work is funded through voluntary dues dollars paid by its members.