11/17/2012 7:00 AM
By Jane W. Graham Virginia Correspondent
DALEVILLE, Va. — There is a new face at the executive secretary’s desk here at the headquarters of the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association.
Jason Carter became the new VCA executive secretary and executive director of the Virginia Beef Council in July and says he is enjoying getting to know the industry and the people involved in it.
He is looking forward to working with the VCA board of directors as they seek to change the focus of the organization and continue to expand the services it offers members.
This change, he said in a recent phone interview, will be aimed at taking the image of the association from that of a marketing organization to a vocational one.
“I have a board that is real enthusiastic, like I am, in making the change,” Carter said.
He said the association is gaining industry partnerships that will lead to member benefits for cattlemen.
“We’re looking for new marketing avenues,” he said.
He hopes these will be appealing for both cow/calf producers and stockers.
“My role as executive director of the beef council has given me a chance to enable cattle producers to understand what their check-off dollars are doing for them,” he said.
“This is probably the aspect of my job I understood the least,” he said.
Carter said every state has a beef council that manages the beef check-off dollars. Since 1985, one dollar from the sale of every bovine goes to the Beef Check-off Program. Of this, he said, 50 cents stays in the state and 50 cents goes to the national program.
This money has one basic purpose: to promote beef to consumers, he said.
Carter said the cattle business in Virginia has been really positive since he started his new job. Feeder cattle market prices hit a low at the end of July but the value of feeder cattle has progressed since then, he said.
This has given cow/calf producers a reason to expand, Carter said. While cattle numbers are down in Virginia, they are not as far down as in Midwestern states where drought has caused cattlemen to downsize herds.
“Prices are good,” he said. “It is time to maintain and expand.”
His first months with the association have been challenging, Carter acknowledged. As he has learned the ins and outs of the industry, he has been busy establishing relationships.
“I enjoy working with the cattle business,” he said. “I enjoy people.”
Carter, of Stuart’s Draft, was a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent before succeeding Bill McKinnon as the executive director of the organization that serves the beef cattle industry across the state.
He served as an Extension agent in animal science in Augusta County from 2006 until his appointment to his new job earlier this year. During that time, he also worked with the Extension in Rockingham and Rockbridge counties, and was involved in a wide range of educational events related to cattle.
He has worked with the Augusta Market Animal Show, the Beef Quality Assurance program, feeder cattle marketing and dead animal disposal. He has also worked with several producer groups.
A native of Appomattox County, Carter grew up on a diversified family farm with a cow/calf herd and grew tobacco.
A Virginia Tech grad, he earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1995 and a master’s degree in 2011.
Carter and his wife are the parents of four children.
He is looking forward to developing the many opportunities he sees for the Virginia cattle industry.