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SURVEY SAYS...

BELIEFS, ATTITUDES AND DEMOGRAPHICS OF CCA MEMBERSHIP by Tracy Schohr, University of California, Davis Since 1917, one organization has focused its attention on improving the businesses of California’s ranchers and beef producers. For nearly 100 years, the state’s ranchers have looked to the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) leadership and staff to create a more favorable business environment so they can prosper in an everchanging regulatory climate. The more than 1,700 producer members of CCA were asked to participate in a survey focused on their individual management practices, business strategies, along with attitudes and beliefs. There were 507 surveys from across the state returned to the University California (UC), Davis for analysis, resulting in a 33 percent response rate. The survey respondents represented 11 million acres, approximately 33 percent of California’s grazed rangeland (CAL FIRE-FRAP 2010). The collaborative survey between CCA, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), California Farm Bureau Federation, Natural Resources Conservation Service, California Rangeland Conservation Coalition and UC Davis was designed to gain insight into the social, economic and ecological factors driving ranch management

28 California Cattleman October 2014

decision making. Intact rangelands are important for the long-term sustainability of livestock production enterprises and are also considered a community-asset. Working rangelands maintain open spaces, provide important flood protection, reduce the threat of catastrophic fires and offer habitat for a diversity of plant and wildlife species. The survey results suggest policy recommendations and outreach strategies to improve ranching businesses in California and conserve grazed rangelands. The first goal of the survey was to understand the socio-economic and structural characteristics of California’s ranching operations. Similar to previous agricultural surveys, most respondents were male, college educated or had formal vocational training, and were on average 62 years old. The surveyed operations were largely multigenerational businesses, with 71 percent of respondents being third generation or longer. Only 10 percent identified themselves as second-generation ranchers and 19 perent of respondents were first generation ranchers. This survey also highlights the structural diversity of California’s working ranches. Total rangelands acres used by an operation varied widely—ranging from one to nearly five million acres, with a median operation size of approximately 2,400 acres. Approximately one-half of the operations are reliant on two or more types of land ownership (i.e., privately owned, privately leased, publicly leased, or hired to

Profile for California Cattleman

October 2014 cca magazine online  

October 2014 cca magazine online