WATFORD, N.D. – The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) is a cattle producers’ trade association that dates back to 1929. Cattlemen on the Fort Berthold Reservation and surrounding areas were tired of the chronic cattle rustling plaguing their herds. Andrew Johnston, a Watford city, N.D.,-area cattleman, decided to call a meeting to determine what could be done about it.
That gathering took place June 6, 1929 — now considered christening day for the NDSA — in Watford City. Founders at that meeting elected John Leakey as their president and each pitched in $5 a person to establish a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone stealing cattle, horses or mules in North Dakota.
As the association grew older, members found value in banding together on other issues, so the mission expanded to what it is today: to unite, protect, promote, educate and serve the state’s beef cattle industry.
In September, NDSA members are invited to “come home” to the organization’s birthplace for business, meetings and celebration. The 94th Annual Convention & Trade Show will be held Sept. 28-30 in Watford City. The event will feature an educational series, informational speakers, policy-development sessions, business, networking and fun.
Thursday, Sept. 28
The convention begins on Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. with a 9-Hole Golf Scramble and Hole-in-One Contest at Fox Hills Golf Course. Golfers can enter by contacting Scott Ressler, the Golf Scramble chairman, at (701) 223-2522 or (701) 391-7310.
The NDSA Board of Directors will be gathering for its quarterly meeting at Teddy’s Residential Suites at 10 a.m.
Also at 10 a.m., the “End of the Rope” movie showing and museum visit will be taking place at the McKenzie County Heritage Park and North Dakota Oil Museum.
The Cattlemen’s Education Series will follow with buses loading at 12:45 p.m. and departing from Teddy’s Residential Suites at 1 p.m. The Cattlemen’s Education Series program will include a glimpse into the region’s energy industry, a rainfall simulator demonstration and a federal lands discussion. The grazing station will feature local ranchers Pete and Vawnita Best, McKenzie County Grazing Association President Keith Winter, U.S. Forest Service Rangeland Management Specialist Luke Mowry and the McKenzie County Soil Conservation District and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation teams. The other stops will include visits to a Bakken drilling rig and producing well location and a Bakken natural gas processing plant. These stops will be hosted by Brady Pelton of the North Dakota Petroleum Council and other energy industry officials and provide an overview of North Dakota energy development, reclamation and surface owner considerations.
After the Cattlemen’s Education Series, there will be a social and the opening of the NDSA Trade Show at the Rough Rider Center, which will feature 64 allied industry vendors. This is the largest trade show in NDSA history. Convention-goers can earn a chance to win a grand prize by visiting Trade Show vendors. Supper and the presentation of the golf awards and the “Riding for the Brand” recognitions will take place at Thursday’s supper. To close out the evening, attendees are invited back to the Trade Show to visit with industry professionals when the Trade Show resumes at 8 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 29
The NDSA Trade Show will reopen on Friday morning at 8 a.m., with the opening business session following at 8:45 a.m. at the Rough Rider Center. Besides business, NDSA Nominating Committee reports and the Candidates’ Forum, the session will include a presentation by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO Colin Woodall, who will share highlights from and answer questions about the organization’s Policy and Federation Divisions, including updates about the farm bill, labeling and inspection of cell-cultured protein, tax policy, federal lands, WOTUS, environmental policy, markets and more. He will also answer the questions attendees have about the organization and its work.
Following lunch, the “nuts and bolts” of the convention will begin with the policy committee meetings. Members will discuss and debate policy issues and learn from industry experts who will offer information on H2A and immigration workforce reform, the Bureau of Land Management rule, vaccine efficacy, the electronic brand inspection program, Environmental Protection Agency pesticide registration changes, the Dakota Legacy Initiative, prompt payment provisions, Livestock Risk Protection, cell-cultured protein and more.
When the work is done, it will be time to have some fun. Join us for a fun and competitive night of donkey basketball. Players and their four-legged mounts will compete to win a basketball game. Event-goers will be on the stands for a night of entertainment with bonus activities to go along with the fun. Come dressed fiesta-style and soak in the Fiesta Fun Night ambiance.
Saturday, Sept. 30
At 8 a.m. Saturday, activities will resume and convention-goers will hear from a powerful line-up of speakers.
Dan Halstrom will be the first to take the stage on Saturday morning. Halstrom is the president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Its mission is to increase the value and profit opportunities for the U.S. beef, pork and lamb industries by enhancing demand in export markets through a coordinated and collaborative partnership of stakeholders. USMEF carries out market development activities in more than 80 countries. Halstrom will give convention attendees a global meat overview.
Hannah Thompson-Weeman, president and CEO of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, will discuss decisions about modern agriculture that aren’t just happening on the farm anymore, but sometimes in the statehouse and the courthouse. Thompson-Weeman will provide insight into the animal rights movement, including major groups and current strategies and tactics. Attendees will leave with a better understanding of challenges facing animal agriculture, implications of the recent Supreme Court decision on Prop 12 and ideas for safeguarding their livelihood.
After a brief break, Paul Neiffer, an agribusiness certified public accountant and business advisor specializing in income taxation, accounting services and Farm Service Agency planning, will discuss how ranches will be affected by the expected sunset of favorable 2017 tax law provisions and ways to best position family ranch operations.
A new addition to Saturday morning will be the “Hoofin’ It Home” 5K Beef Walk/Run. Check-in for the race begins at 9:15 a.m., with the race starting at 10 a.m. at the Rough Rider Center. Prizes will be awarded for first place in the children’s, men’s and women’s divisions. Registration is available at www.roughridercenter.com or www.ndstockmen.org.
The Foundation Luncheon will begin at noon. In addition to lunch, it will include scholarship presentations, Memorial Wall presentations and Top Hands class, Foundation board and intern recognitions.
Business resumes at 1:30 p.m. in the closing session. Committee chairmen will offer their reports, and members will discuss and vote on policy resolutions and select officers and directors to lead the organization for the 2023-2024 year.
Top-recruiter prizes, including a complimentary convention package and NDSA winter coat, as well as $2,000 in Bull Bucks, will be awarded that afternoon. New members and the recruiters of new members are eligible for the Bull Bucks drawing. The winner must be present to win.
The NDSA will be hosting a complimentary laser tag party and pool party in the Rough Rider Center from 1:30 to 4 p.m. with full usage of the laser tag course, pool and water park.
A banquet social will follow at 6 p.m.
The annual banquet will begin at 7 p.m. and will include the recognition of long-time employees, as well as outstanding members selected for the Honorary Local Brand Inspector, Honorary Membership, Rancher of the Year, Environmental Stewardship and Top Hand Awards.
To close out the convention, Chris Koch will give a keynote address, “If I Can…” Koch doesn’t let limitations or obstacles stand in his way. Despite being born without arms and legs, he grew up like any other small-town kid. Neither he nor his family treated his disability like a tragedy, but instead used it to fuel his dreams. He had to do things a little differently, but was determined to be just like the rest and be treated just like the rest. Today, Koch works in the farming and ranching industry. When he’s not in the field, he is traveling as a motivational speaker. This allows him to fuel his passion for travel and share his story and experiences in hopes of encouraging others to live their lives to its greatest potential.
Full, one-day and student registrations are available ahead of time or onsite. Throughout the event, attendees will have the chance to win great prizes, including cash, an iPad, an air compressor, jumpstarter, electric pressure washer and grill.