Beef Industry Outlook
Leann Saunders is the President of Where Food Comes From, Inc. (formerly IMI Global, Inc.), an agricultural verification solutions company and founder of the Where Food Comes From food labeling program. A one-of-a-kind brand, Where Food Comes From combines the verification and traceability expertise of multiple verification divisions with new Quick Response (QR) code technology to allow consumers to use their Smart Phone to scan food product labels and quickly access detailed information about the product's origins. To date, Where Food Comes From can be found in a variety of locations across the U.S., including 19 Heinen's Fine Foods stores in Cleveland and Chicago and the Original Delmonico's Steakhouse in New York City.
Leann is also an active member of the United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Board of Directors, currently elected as the Vice Chair for the 2012-2013 year and Chair of the Traceability Working Group. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the International Stockmen's Education Foundation. Personally, Leann remains actively involved with her family's ranching and stocker operations and is part owner of the Mayfield Heritage Cattle Company in Animas, New Mexico.
Larry Fluhman was born and raised on a ranching operation just north of Roy, New Mexico in Harding County. He graduated from New Mexico State University with a Bachelors Degree of Science in Agricultural Economics in 1976. Larry's past work experience includes Assistant County and County Supervisor with Farmers Home Administration (USDA) and Branch Manager-Vice President of Production Credit Association. Larry is currently the President of Farmers & Stockmens Bank in Clayton, New Mexico.
For over 37 years, Larry has been actively involved in lending in Union, Harding and Colfax counties in Northeastern New Mexico. He has a lifetime of experience in lending in rural areas, not only with respect to agricultural lending, but also with respect to commercial loans, home loans, construction loans etc. In 2013 Larry was named Ag lender of the year by ICBA of New Mexico.
In addition to lending, Larry is very active in the community and family life. He and his wife Jay have raised three children in the Clayton area. Their kids have grown into hard working and successful adults just like their parents. Larry and Jay get them to come home as often as possible, and Larry usually has a job for them (branding calves, hauling hay or building fence). In his free time, Larry enjoys running a small cow-calf operation near Clayton.
Tom McDonald is Vice President of Environmental Affairs for JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding LLC. His primary responsibilities include ensuring regulatory compliance and developing sustainable environmental systems at JBS Five Rivers' twelve beef cattle feedyards. Tom received his B.S. degree in Animal Science from West Texas A&M University and his M.S. degree in Beef Cattle Production and Management from the University of Tennessee. Tom currently serves on the EPA Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Board of Directors and Vice Chairman of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He has chaired NCBA's environmental working group for 12 years and served on the TCFA Legislative and Regulatory Committee for 16 years. He volunteers his time to local 4-H activities and livestock shows to help young people develop their leadership and livestock skills.
Ben Weinheimer is vice president for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA), headquartered in Amarillo. Weinheimer works with cattle feedyards to resolve specific regulatory issues and is responsible for several of the association’s service programs, including the Beef Safety and Quality Assurance Program, Employee Safety Services Program, Environmental Services Program, and the USDA-approved Quality Systems Assessment Program for age and source verification of export cattle. In addition, he is responsible for the association's research programs and funding.
He joined the TCFA staff in July 1995 as regulatory manager and was named vice president in March 2006. Weinheimer grew up on a diversified grain and livestock operation near Groom, where he still lives. He graduated in December 1994 from Texas A&M University with a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering and is a licensed professional engineer in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Ben has served as an officer and chair of the Advisory Committee for the Office of the Texas State Chemist (2010), the Texas Certified Crop Advisors Board (2008), and the Texas Section of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (2007). He is a member of the Panhandle Water Planning Group…addressing water supply and demand issues for the Texas Panhandle. He also served on USDA’s Agricultural Air Quality Task Force from 2006-2010.
Weinheimer and his wife Jennifer are the parents of a daughter Brittany and sons Todd and William. As a family project, they raise show animals and participate in livestock shows throughout the year.
Brian Bledsoe is the Chief Meteorologist/Climatologist for KKTV 11 News in Colorado Springs. He is also he President and Founder of BrianBledsoeWx,LLC, which is his private weather consulting business. Brian's goal is to help AG producers make their business more successful, by using accurate weather forecasts, both shortterm and longterm. His strong background in agriculture is important, as he recognizes the need for good common sense weather forecasting that can be readily be used by farmers and ranchers. Brian has several private clients scattered around Colorado, and the whole United States. He also works for Silveus Insurance, Alliance Insurance, AgriPros, The Colorado Association of Wheat Growers, and frequently speaks all across the region about weather and the importance of drought planning. As many of you are familiar with, he writes a monthly article for The Southern Livestock Standard out of San Antonio, TX, and his work has been featured in several media outlets, including The High Plains Journal, The AG Journal, and the Greeley Tribune.