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forward to the 27 bred heifers scheduled for delivery later this summer. Having a supportive family and friends at home to help in the daily management of the cattle when he is away makes Blackburn confident in his ability to fulfill the responsibilities of GCA President. Brother and partner Rickie – along with wife, Jan, and two girls, Anna Marie, 12, and Sally Kate, 10 – are all involved in getting the chores done. There are some great friends and cattlemen in the area that also pitch in when needed. When the Blackburn girls are not helping with chores, they stay active at Edmund Burke Academy cheering and showing registered Brown Swiss heifers on loan from a local dairy.

GOALS AS PRESIDENT Blackburn shared his thoughts and goals he seeks to accomplish during his presidency.

#1. Strengthen Voice “An annual GCA membership is on average $50. Depending on what chapter affiliation you have, dues may be more for local chapter dues. Divide this $50 membership fee into 12 months, this comes to roughly $4 a month, which divided into a four-week month is an estimated $1/week. This $1 investment into your industry not only pays for a committed and passionate staff, but provides proper political representation on the local, state and national levels. GCA works fervently with the National Cattlemen’s on issues such as protecting private property rights and fighting excessive government regulations. While you are hard at work on your farm or ranch, GCA staff and volunteer leaders are hard at work in the legislative arena fighting to protect YOUR interests. Another advantage of your investment is receiving this magazine each month. It not only serves as valuable resource to use in making management decisions for your pasture and herd, but is truly the avenue of communication from the state office to you and me on the farm. All of this for $1/week, not bad!” #2. Attract Younger Producers With the launching of the new

member benefits coupons in 2010 (see page 8 for details), Blackburn has modeled the “Just Ask” program from the Florida Cattlemen’s Association in hopes to reach the 5,000+ member mark by April 2012. “Membership is the lifeline of our Association,” stressed Blackburn. “We need to take it upon ourselves to share within our realm of influence about the importance of GCA and its benefits.” Targeting 5,000 members is just the beginning, Blackburn explained. While he recognizes the wisdom and experience of past and current leadership, Blackburn said it is time to inspire the next generations. “Engaging the 20 to 40 age group in the benefits of being active in a local Cattlemen’s chapter and educating them about the policy issues pertaining to the beef cattle industry is vital for the Association growth,” said Blackburn.

#3. Enhance Meetings “Coming off a great Convention with excellent speakers at the Cattlemen’s Colleges, it is important for us to continue having the ‘meat in the meetings.’ ‘Meat’ is a metaphor for relevant topics that appeal for all age groups of members.” Seeing an increase in demand from consumers about being more knowledgeable on meat they are purchasing to feed their families, means GCA members need to stay abreast of the new technologies and innovations in order to meet the needs of consumers.

NEW ERA IS UPON US After 50 years of “building the association,” Blackburn said it is time to “hand off the Association to the next generation.” “It’s an exciting time to be a cattle producer and in GCA,” Blackburn said with a smile. “When you pause and realize how much Georgia’s cattle industry has developed and grown in the past 50 years, it makes me honored to be a part of developing future generations of GCA members.” A unique event being planned to target future generations is GCA’s Jekyll Island Summer Conference, July 21-23 (see page 45 for registration details). This weekend event has activities and workshops for all age groups.

From having time to enjoy the beach with fellow cattlemen, casually meeting about current policy issues and hearing first-hand from staff about the direction of GCA, this is a weekend where business will be combined with fun, said Blackburn. “This will be an event where you can bring the kids and enjoy a relaxing weekend on the beach surrounded by local Jekyll Island attractions while also having opportunities to sit through several structured meetings from industry experts,” added Blackburn. As GCA leadership and staff gear up for a successful 2011, White reminds us about the importance of being cohesive in our efforts. “Steve has set out an aggressive agenda for the Association for the next year and I’m confident our local and state leaders will work together with staff to exceed these expectations.” GC G E O R G I A C AT T L E M A N •

May 2011 29

Georgia Cattleman Feature Stories  

This document serves as a sampling of producer profiles and feature stories I've written for the Georgia Cattleman. The published date may b...

Georgia Cattleman Feature Stories  

This document serves as a sampling of producer profiles and feature stories I've written for the Georgia Cattleman. The published date may b...