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Kansas cattleman attends elite beef industry conference
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Brandon Depenbusch from Innovative Livestock Services recently traveled to Washington, D.C., for the National Cattlemens Beef Association 35th Young Cattlemens Conference. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

WASHINGTON – Brandon Depenbusch, feedyard general manager for Innovative Livestock Services, was one of  more than 60 young cattlemen and women selected to participate in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association 35th Young Cattlemen’s Conference. Depenbusch was sponsored by Kansas Livestock Association. The YCC program is a comprehensive, nationwide tour of beef industry sectors, created to enhance leadership skills in your beef industry professionals.
“YCC is a prestigious and competitive program designed to foster the future leadership of our industry,” said Forrest Roberts, NCBA chief executive officer. “The participants selected to attend YCC were chosen because of their exceptional contributions to the beef industry and their potential to be a strong voice in our future development. I look forward to seeing Brandon take an increased leadership role within NCBA and the beef industry.”  
Living in Great Bend, Depenbusch works for Innovative Livestock Services Inc., which owns and operates 11 feedyards in Kansas and Nebraska. In addition to the feedyards, ILS farms 20,000 acres and operates several smaller companies that support their feedyards. Depenbusch has worked for ILS for five years, with primary responsibilities as general manager for two of the feedyards and supporting companies, research coordinator, and special project/data analyst.
Depenbusch completed his Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees from Kansas State University in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry. His research revolved around pre-harvest food safety strategies, ethanol by-product utilization, and extrusion grain processing for feedlot cattle. Depenbusch also managed the Kansas State University Beef Cattle Research Center while attending graduate school.
“YCC is an excellent opportunity to network with other young industry professionals while learning about the opportunities and challenges that face beef producers daily,” said Depenbusch.
The eight day tour began at NCBA headquarters in Denver, Colo., where participants were given an organizational overview of NCBA and the Beef Checkoff Program. While in Denver, the group also heard from representatives of Cattle Fax and the U.S. Meat Export Federation. They toured a Safeway retail store and learned about Rancher’s Reserve brand beef marketing efforts. The group spent a day in Greeley, Colo., visiting JBS Five Rivers feed yards and processing facilities.
“It is important for young producers to understand and see each sector of the beef industry – from pasture to plate,” said Depenbusch. “Traveling from a cow-calf ranch to a feedlot and processing plant really drives home the point that our industry is composed of many sectors which are all committed to produce a healthy end product.”
In Chicago, the group met with the senior management of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange at the Chicago Board of Trade. They had the chance to watch the activity on the trading floor and witness futures trading firsthand. Participants also visited Otto & Sons Industries, a family owned company providing quality products and custom solutions for the food industry since 1909. This tour offered a view of how boxed beef is turned into custom order portions for both major restaurant chains and some of the nation’s top steakhouses.
The group then traveled to Washington, D.C., where participants received an issues briefing from NCBA’s government affairs staff about policy issues currently facing the cattle industry. The group then traveled to Aldie, Va., for a tour and barbeque at Whitestone Farms, one of the nation’s elite purebred Angus operations.  
The next day, these young cattlemen and women were given the opportunity to visit one-on-one with members of their state’s congressional delegation, expressing their viewpoints regarding the beef industry and their cattle operations. During their congressional visits, participants focused on issues including international trade, federal lands ranching and overreaching regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. They finished the day with a reception hosted by John Deere at the company’s Washington office.
For more information on the YCC program or to nominate someone for next year’s tour, contact your state cattlemen’s association or Marvin Kokes at 303-850-3339 or