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Excited about the industry - Ellis looks forward to NCBA term

Written by Saige Albert

Chugwater – Philip Ellis of Chugwater has ranching in his blood. 

“Our family has been in the cattle business since the 1880s,” Ellis says, noting that his family settled on Bear Creek in southeast Wyoming in the 1880s. “I got involved in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) through the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA), which is the state affiliate of NCBA.”
Just over 10 years ago, Ellis decided to explore the potential of leadership in the Wyoming organization, and since, he’s continued his leadership role to the national level. 

WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna mentions, “The most exciting part of the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention was Philip Ellis being sworn in as president. There is so much positive to say about Phillip. We are thrilled to have a former president of WSGA as the new president of NCBA.”

Ellis is the second president of NCBA from Wyoming is three years.

Getting started

Ellis began advocating for the beef cattle industry more than 30 years ago, starting with the Laramie County Stockgrowers Association. He was also actively involved with the WSGA, serving on many committees and as committee chairman.

In 1996, he was elected as WSGA Second Vice President, where he served for two years. He also served two years as First Vice President, from 2001-03, and finally led the organization as president from 2003-05.

“A couple years after I was president of WSGA, I had the time, interest and excitement about the beef cattle business to volunteer at the national level,” Ellis says. “I first became a regional vice president for NCBA’s northwest region. Then I interviewed to get into the chairs for the top leadership, and I was selected.”

At the NCBA Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, held Feb. 4-7 in San Antonio, Texas, Ellis stepped up to the role of NCBA president.

“I’m enthusiastic about NCBA and the cattle business, and I really enjoy it,” Ellis says.

Optimism for the future

Ellis mentions that he is very excited about serving as the national president for NCBA.

“There are two things I’m excited about,” he says. “First, as national president, it is exciting and fun to travel throughout the United States meeting with state associations and cattle producers throughout the country.”

The chance to visit with cattle producers around the nation is an opportunity he looks forward to. 

“For a cattle guy, it is always a great experience to visit with other producers,” he comments. “When I arrive anywhere, even if I’ve never been there before, I always feel at home with cattle producers.”

“That is the fun part,” Ellis adds, “but there are also some other exciting opportunities in the beef cattle business.”

Ellis notes that the beef cattle business has a positive future, which is exciting.

“I think things are coming together in the industry, and we are creating a business that is good and will be good for the next generation, too,” Ellis comments. “We can keep moving forward, removing the obstacles that are in the way of the future.”

Challenges

In light of his optimism, Ellis notes that his term as president will include plenty of time dealing with the challenges of the industry. 

“First of all, on the policy side, there are always regulatory roadblocks to our success,” he says. “One that is hanging over from last year is the EPA waters of the U.S. rule.”

With indications that EPA is still intent on pushing the rule through, Ellis mentions that NCBA remains engaged in the issue at every level, through the legislative branch and the input of producers. 

“The comment periods are now closed, but we hope we can make some common sense out of that rule,” he continues. “That will be a huge challenge, but there are also other challenges that are opportunities.”

Turning it around

Ellis is optimistic that some of the challenges of the cattle industry may be turned into opportunities in the future, particularly with the new congress in place. 

“With the new congress, there are opportunities in tax reform,” he says, mentioning that it may be possible to make some of the tax extenders put in place last year permanent. “When the administration starts talking about taxes, I always worry that they will bring back or mess with the death tax, but for the moment, we have relief in that arena. We would still like to see it repealed, though.”

An additional challenge for the industry is in marketing beef, particularly to the millennial population. 

“Marketing to millenials is one of my personal priorities and challenges,” Ellis notes. “My daughters have left the ranch, and they live in Denver, Colo. They are the milllenial mothers that we want to make sure understand the message about beef.”

He also notes that it is important to understand what misinformation is being distributed about beef. 

“We have to understand that information and understand their concerns,” he says. “We also have to respond to them with the research we have about beef.”

With the increased marketing and social media presence of NCBA and the beef industry, Ellis notes that he is excited for the future.

“We want to make sure that my grandkids have beef at the center of their dinner plate,” Ellis says. 

Goals

During his term, Ellis notes that he is excited to travel the U.S., speaking on behalf of beef and beef cattle producers. 

“I want to take the message that beef is the right product and the right business,” he says. “It is right for our families to raise beef, and it is also the right protein for families around the world.”

“We have lots of opportunities this year,” Ellis continues, “and I’m excited and optimistic about it.”

Convention

The 117th Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio, Texas brought cattlemen from across the country to Texas.

“The Cattle Industry Convention is the oldest and largest convention for the cattle business,” says the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). 

This year’s convention hosted a record-breaking number of attendees, with over 8,200 cattle producers and industry members present. 

NCBA President Phillip Ellis notes, “It was a fabulous convention. Every meeting was packed, from information meetings to committee meetings and the general session. It was a great time.”

Wyoming Stock Growers Executive Vice President Jim Magagna adds, “It was a nice and enjoyable convention.”

Only four new policy resolutions came out of the convention, Magagna mentioned, noting that overall, there wasn’t any controversial issues that emerged from the event.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..