24 CALF News • February | March 2022 • Won't Miss a Beat Under New Leadership Ben Weinheimer, TCFA president and CEO TCFA By Larry Stalcup Contributing Editor As a licensed professional engineer, Ben Weinheimer can be precise in decision making. But after working more than 25 years with one of the nation’s leading cattle associations, he has learned there’s a lot of give and take involved in reading cattle markets, obtaining regulatory permits, and helping develop policy for environmental, taxation, private property rights and other important legislation. Groom, Texas, a town of about 600 in the eastern Panhandle. He earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from Texas A&M University in 1994 before joining TCFA in 1995. He and his wife, Jennifer, call Amarillo home. They have three grown children and three grandchildren. Weinheimer drew TCFA’s interest when the EPA was implementing new permit regulations in the mid-‘90s. Then CEO McDonald and a young Wilson needed more expertise to assist feedyards in meeting EPA guidelines. Weinheimer was the man. They admired his demeanor, his background in farming and stocker cattle and his education in ag engineering. He knew right away that TCFA worked to stay ahead of any potential concerns member yards would face. “I learned that our No. 1 priority as a staff is serving our members and that we have a job to do,” he says. “We’ve been selected for our roles because we know what needs to be done and how to do it best, to take ownership and get to it without procrastination.” TCFA was founded to help provide feedyards with reliable market information and help assure that government regulations on food safety, taxes, the environment, property rights and other issues were fair to the feeding industry. These and other issues have grown continuously, as have the methods of dealing with them. “The magnitude of challenges for cattle feeders has increased exponentially the past 25 years,”Weinheimer explains. The threat of foot-and-mouth disease to the U.S. became a reality in the early 2000s with the outbreak in the United Kingdom. Anti-meat activists have become more sophisticated in their legal and political attacks on our industry. “Younger generations often feel fake meat is more sustainable and healthier than real beef,” he says. “The global pandemic caused disruptions and labor shortages that rippled throughout the supply chain. Those complex national and global challenges can have a significant and almost instantaneous impact on our members. We must be ready to meet these challenges.” A Seat at the Table Producers and feeders face continued questions on sustainability, climate change and, more recently, carbon credits. When “sustainability” became a prevalent – yet misunderstood – word, Weinheimer sensed what was coming. He foresaw more malicious claims that cattle production and handling were hurting the environment. He was a pioneer member of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. He contends the beef industry must represent itself when it comes to the question of sustainability. “Simply put – we have nothing to hide,” he says. “It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with the term of what describes an industry, a product or a process as sustainable. What’s important is whether we want someone else to portray themselves as our face and voice – or if it’s better for us to do that ourselves. “During the past century, the cattle and beef industries have evolved to where we have more than a dozen specialized segments of the beef supply chain. We need a common narrative to transparently communicate, through traditional means and social media, our commitment to care for our people, our animals, the environment and care about Weinheimer is the new president and CEO of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) in Amarillo. He replaced Ross Wilson, who retired Dec. 31, 2021, after serving 15 years as CEO and 37 years with TCFA. Weinheimer is only the fifth CEO of the association, which was formed in 1967. Former chief executives Lloyd Bergsma, Charlie Ball, Richard McDonald andWilson were iconic in their roles.Weinheimer aims to carry on the tradition of leading an association that does what’s best for its some 200-member feedyards in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico – a region that annually finishes about 30 percent of the nation’s fed cattle. Weinheimer was raised on a diversified grain and livestock operation near