Georgia Cattleman Attends YCC Conference and Industry Tour

Andrew Conley, general manager at Blackwater Cattle Company in Lake Park, Ga.

Andrew Conley, general manager of Blackwater Cattle Company, was one of  more than 50 young cattlemen and women selected to participate in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) 33rd Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC). Conley was sponsored by the Georgia Cattlemen’s 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 Andrew take an increased leadership role within NCBA and the beef industry.”

Conley grew up on a cow-calf operation in Blairsville, Ga., and was active in showing and judging livestock through 4-H. He attended Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College and Georgia Southern University.

Conley served the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association in 2011 as an Executive Committee Member and is currently the president of his local cattlemen’s association. Andrew also currently serves as General Manager at Blackwater Cattle Company in Lake Park, Ga., where he oversees 1,200 head of commercial and registered Brangus cattle.

His intensive management practices have helped his operation excel in many areas to include health and reproduction, as Conley practices cutting edge husbandry techniques. Blackwater has also held the distinction of hosting four high averaging bull sales within the Brangus breed. Conley said YCC was an opportunity to learn more about the issues facing the beef industry in order to be a better advocate back home. Conley’s hobbies include fishing and livestock auctioneering.

“This was a tremendous opportunity to meet other producers and learn valuable tools to take back home to our operations,” he said. “It’s great to learn how we as producers can have an impact on policy issues as well.”

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 really important for participants to see each sector of the beef industry – from farm to fork,” said Conley. “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, sectors that are all striving 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 were greeted at a reception hosted by John Deere. The following morning, the group received an issues briefing from NCBA’s government affairs staff about policy issues currently facing the cattle industry.

Later in the day, these future leaders 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 the 2012 Farm Bill, federal lands ranching and overreaching regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The group then traveled to Aldie, Va., for a tour and barbeque at Whitestone Farms, one of the nation’s elite purebred Angus operations.

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

Visit the IBBA website at to learn more about commercial marketing programs and to find a Brangus breeder near you.

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