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New NCBA President talks about farm work, cattle numbers, feed costs

Gene Johnston 02/06/2012 @ 11:00pm On the scene at the 2012 Cattle Convention, Nashville

J.D. Alexander and his son, Josh, farm 2,000 acres of crop ground and run a 5,000-head cattle feedlot in northeast Nebraska, near Pilger. It’s busy there every day of the year – in the feed yards, in the fields, in the farm office. It’s a rare day that both J.D. and Josh are away from the farm.

This week was one of those times. They were both in Nashville, Tennessee, at the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show. There was a good reason they turned the farm chores over to employees and made this trip across four state lines to a fancy hotel and conference center in Music City: J.D. took over the reigns as the new president of the National Cattlemens’ Beef Association (NCBA).

J.D. took a break from official activities at the convention to visit with Agriculture.com

Q: What would you be doing if you were home today?

J.D.: Well, I’d be helping get ready for a snow storm they tell me is moving into Nebraska. We haven’t had much bad weather this winter, but of course it would come while we’re away. I’m not worried, we’ve got four good full-time employees, and they’ll handle it fine back on the farm.

Josh handles most of the outside day-to-day operations. I’m usually in the office doing the purchasing, risk management, and most of the financial chores. I like this NCBA work, I think it is fun. I’m fortunate to have Josh and the employees, so I can be away on this kind of business.

Q: Have you done any of your farm office work this week, while you’re here taking over as NCBA president?

J.D.: I sure have, I have all the technology I need, a smart phone and laptop. I can work from wherever I am. This week, I’ve sold cattle from here, and did really well on them. And I’ve done some commodity trading on both sides of the market, and I’ve done some other financial work as I found the time.

Q: What’s high on your priority list in the coming year, regarding NCBA business?

J.D.: We seem to have more government regulations coming along that impact the cattle industry, and dealing with that is going to be on my plate. The estate tax issue is real high on my priority list. It’s scheduled to revert back to the old way, with a 55% tax rate on an estate over $1 million.  We need to get that fixed permanently; $1 million is just a quarter section of land today. 

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