Clark: State cattlemen feeding world
Published 12:28 am Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Local business owner Woody Clark recently became the first Covington County resident to be elected president of the Alabama Cattleman’s Association, and Friday he gave members of Andalusia’s Civitan club a look inside the organization.
“I’m very passionate about the ability to raise cattle on our farms,” Clark said. “We’re feeding the world and we’re feeding Alabama.”
Clark said the Cattleman’s Association is currently dealing with several concerning trends, such as a decreased heard in the wake of several droughts, but added the beef market is still vibrant worldwide.
“The beef industry is very strong,” Clark said. “Last year we exported 2.5 billion pounds of beef with a value of around $2.9 billion.”
In Alabama, Clark said the industry has more of an impact than many realize.
“In Alabama, beef accounted for $526 million in the state economy last year, and it created 10,000 jobs,” Clark said. “The value of the cattle in this state is at $873 million. That’s a big impact.”
In fact, Clark said Alabama ranks ninth in the country in number of farms and beef cattle.
“When you think about states like Texas and Oklahoma, with their wide expanses of space, it’s amazing to think about Alabama being in the top ten,” Clark said.
And it is because of the thriving industry that Clark said the Cattleman’s Association is so important.
“We’re always looking to add new members,” he said. “You don’t have to be a cattle person, or be in the business. If you’re interested, you can go to your local chapter or go online (bamabeef.org) and sign up for $30.”
Clark said ACA officials are also working extra hard to reach out to children and young adults through events like the Alabama Junior Beef Expo.
“We really believe youth is valuable,” he said. “If we don’t’ have the young people coming back to our farms, our organization is eventually going to dry up.”
Clark also pointed to the current high price of beef as an unfortunate product of a thriving industry.
“Demand for beef is at an all-time high,” he said. “We are selling more than we can produce. The droughts in 2010 and 2013 left us short six million head of cattle. It’s unfortunate, but prices are, and are going to remain, high.”
Clark said buying in bulk and taking advantage of sales during the current “cookout season” are great ways to combat the high prices. He said people can also rest assured that they are getting good, healthy meat.
“There are groups that would really like to see the cattle industry go away,” he said. “They say we are using hormones and drugs. We are not filling our cattle with hormones or drugs. We are producing more beef, but we’re doing it through genetics.”
Clark said he would likely spend a great majority of his year in office traveling to speak with ACA chapters in all 67 Alabama counties.