Independent Cattleman of Nebraska
By Kacy Atkinson
-Founded in 2005
-700 total membership
-Focus – state regulation, state legislation and producer education
-ICON Board of Directors
Interview with following ICON Board Members: Dave Wright, President; Tom Ramm, Vice-President; Roland Paddock, Secretary; Jim Dinklage, Animal Health Chair; Jim Pappas, ICON Lobbyist
WR How did ICON come to be?
BOD Back in the 80’s, the Stock Growers and Feeder organizations merged in Nebraska. It felt like the cow/calf producer’s voice got lost in the merger. After attending an R-CALF convention, and meeting with people there, we decided to start a new organization. Our older members tell us it feels like we’ve brought the original Stock Growers organization back.
WR What has been one of the best lessons you’ve learned?
BOD It’s really hard to beat the big money lobbies. Nothing is free, and everyone has a position they are trying to secure. By the time we came along in the early 2000’s, the pie was pretty split up. But we’ve worked really hard at finding our place and we’ve been successful in our legislative agendas. We’ve been able to give the independent cattlemen a voice. We pick and choose our battles carefully, and that way when we show up in Lincoln, the legislators there will listen.
WR What’s a great memory that sticks with you?
BOD Every year at our convention different legislators and government officials come to do a panel. And several times we’ve had some young senators who are amazed how intelligent cowboys are! You’re darn right those cowboys are pretty sharp. One junior senator in particular was digging himself quite the hole, so an older senator grabbed the mic away from him before he could get hurt. We definitely all got a good laugh out of it.
WR What is one thing you definitely want to accomplish as a board?
BOD Nebraska has the second highest real estate tax in the country, second only to New Hampshire. According to UNL research, the average ranch or farm pays $22,000 a year in real estate taxes. This is a huge issue for all of us, because it’s a tough business to make a living in as it is. We fully believe that education needs to be funded, but not on the backs of our hardworking agriculture folks through taxes.
WR What would you say to a Nebraska beef producer thinking about joining ICON?
BOD We want to see our kids and grandkids succeed and be in the cattle business. We have to have a voice in the legislature, and ICON is the only voice the cow/calf guy has. We’re in this together; we are here for the independent guy.
WR encourages beef producers to have a voice by being active and involved in an association that aligns with their needs and ideals.