Ramona cattleman Tracy Brunner, was elected president of the Kansas Livestock Association in November.
With brothers Kent and Mark, he co-owns Cow-Camp Ranch, located in the western Flint Hills of Kansas. It is a diversified seedstock and commercial cattle operation, complete with feedlot and cropping enterprises. The brothers are participating in value-added marketing programs, including marketing grid systems, and some all-natural and branded products.
The Brunners have been fixtures in the western Flint Hills for four generations; father and son working side by side.
"We are a family that loves to work together," says Tracy, who with his wife, Yvonne, run a bonded livestock dealer business, which consults and assists other producers with marketing their livestock. They have two children: daughter Cat and son Tanner.
In his year as president of the 5,900-member KLA, Brunner says a number of issues must be addressed.
Increased competition for the state's limited water resources continues to be a challenge.
"We are dealing with increasing interest and competition for water resources in our state," he says. "Many KLA members and producers have senior water rights, which are being threatened by an attempt by the state to re-appropriate them."
Intensive Groundwater Use Control Areas threaten to override water rights that KLA members have owned for several generations. "With IGUCAs, all bets are off. All water rights come back on the table. KLA has been and will be front-and-center to represent its members," he says.
Another pressing issue is that of immigration.
"The KLA supports strong and safe borders," he explains. "But we need human resources of labor in agriculture, not just on farms and ranches, but processing our products. We want to see a workable and effective guest-worker program that allows non-resident workers."
For several years, cattlemen have been at the mercy of high grain prices. Ultimately, the KLA isn't against them, but the organization does want to work for a healthy and vibrant rural economy, Brunner says. While ethanol is but one factor fueling high prices, Brunner says it is a significant concern to beef producers – significant enough that the KLA wants the ethanol blender's credit to end when it sunsets in 2009.
"We have concern of our national energy policy, that subsidizes the use of one feedstock over another," he says. "A government subsidy for any product skews demand for true supply and demand. When supply and demand are allowed to work, the economy works more efficiently.
Brunner earned a bachelor's degree in animal science from Kansas State University, following that up with a master's degree in agribusiness. He has been active in church and community, having been a church elder, past-president of the Centre School Board, and served as 4-H leader.
He is a past chairman of the KLA Cow-Calf/Stocker Council and serves on the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Executive Committee.