September 15, 2021
Board Member Spotlight: Bill Wight
Can you tell me about your operation?
I run cows and calves on mostly leased ranchland in west Texas, so my main priority is being a good tenant. That means maintaining and adding to the existing wells and water facilities and miles of fences, just like I would if I owned the land.
I also pasture yearlings in New Mexico and north Texas and am in a family partnership that operates land that my great-granddad, granddad, dad and uncle put together over a 100-year period.
I keep most of the calves I raise and grow them until they weigh enough to sell to a feedyard. When wheat is available for winter grazing, I grow these yearlings on wheat. Otherwise, I run them on grass through the summer. I retain and breed most of my heifer calves to use for replacements or to sell.
What has been your involvement with TBC?
I am completing my sixth and final year with TBC as a board member. I am currently chairman of the Beef Resources committee. We oversee TBC’s efforts to work with retail stores and foodservice establishments to educate and facilitate them as they sell our nutritious and great-tasting beef. We also oversee TBC’s work to showcase the beef industry’s dedication to producing a safe and wholesome product in an environmentally friendly way. During the short time I’ve been on the board, sustainability has evolved from a hard-to-define concept to become a basic tenant of our industry. Our committee also oversees TBC’s communications with our beef producers to let them know how we’re spending their Checkoff dollars. Finally, we oversee TBC’s partnership with the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to promote US beef around the world.
What initiatives have you been involved with that make you most proud?
I represent TBC on the USMEF board. I was able to go to Japan and Taiwan in 2016 to visit the USMEF offices in those countries and learn about the exciting work they’re doing to promote US beef. Our Beef Team visited several foodservice and retail importers to tell the US beef story. We also made presentations at a BBQ promotion event in Tokyo and a foodservice industry trade show in Taipei.
The USMEF has offices in countries and regions around the world. They support US suppliers by helping them connect with local buyers and work through the export process. They work to defend US beef’s market share, develop new demand and displace beef from competing countries. Their efforts, with support from TBC, have helped create and support the record US beef exports seen in recent years.
What other organizations have you been involved with, both now and in the past?
I am a member of TSCRA, NCBA and Texas Farm Bureau, where I currently serve as president of the Midland County board. I also serve on the local FSA County Committee and SWCD Board. I am involved with my church and volunteer for the Sand Hills Rodeo.
What would you say to someone looking for a way to get involved in advocating for beef?
As beef producers, we are the face of the industry. We take our responsibility seriously to produce the safest product in the world. Everyone needs to attend BQA training and always follow the best practices to make sure the beef we produce is great. We can use social media to expose our family and friends to how we treat the land we steward and the cattle we raise in a sustainable way. Instead of arguing about hot button issues, we can just post photos of what we do. For those wanting to be more vocal, I recommend NCBA’s Masters of Beef Advocacy training and resources.
How would you describe the Beef Checkoff program to someone not in the beef industry?
The Beef Checkoff is a producer-funded program to strengthen demand for beef as the world’s most preferred and trusted protein.
How do you personally share the work the Checkoff is doing with other producers?
I point out to fellow producers that if we don’t promote beef, no one else will. I tell them about my trip to Japan and Taiwan or about a recent USMEF meeting and segue into all the exciting work USMEF does to promote US beef around the world.
I stress the importance of export markets, not only for the volume of beef that gets exported but also for the parts of the animal that don’t have much value in the US but sell for a premium overseas. Quality US beef that people have come to expect in the US is still a niche product in much of the world, but USMEF is constantly looking for new ways to fit it into local dietary platforms.