WHITTINGTON, Ill. — Leading the Illinois Beef Association as
its president for the past two years has been an enjoyable, rewarding experience
for Jeff Beasley.
“When I came on the board in 2005, I had no idea what would
transpire over the next eight years,” said Beasley, who completed his term as
president during the IBA Summer Conference. “I have represented IBA at meetings
all over the state and country.”
The Creal Springs cattleman has enjoyed the experience and
the opportunity to meet numerous people.
“I’ve had the opportunity to go to Denver, Phoenix, Reno,
Tampa, Nashville, San Antonio and Washington, D.C., many times,” he said. “I
fell in love with Washington and really enjoyed my time there because I have an
interest in politics.”
Meeting cattlemen throughout the country has allowed Beasley
to learn about all kinds of cattle operations.
“I am thankful to this organization for giving me this
opportunity to be its leader for a couple of years,” he said. “And I hope the
IBA members have benefited, as well.”
When Beasley was selected as the IBA president, he set
several goals for the organization.
“I’ve thought all along that it is critical to our long-term
success as producers to communicate about our industry to the agricultural
community and consumers,” he stressed.
It is important, Beasley noted, to communicate messages to
customers in urban areas through programs such as Illinois Farm Families.
“It is crucial to get our message out to those who have lost
touch with the farm,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to speak on behalf of beef
producers and don’t be afraid to be interviewed because I really think that
benefits us as a whole in the long run.”
Beasley also noted the importance of the Beef Quality
“Two years ago, only 8 percent of IBA members were BQA
certified,” he said. “With the help of the IBA staff and the IBA Board of
Governors, we made a commitment to improve on that number.”
BQA is a program that provides cattlemen with information
about ways to do things better on their farms such as vaccinations and cattle
“The key with BQA is we’re showing our customer that we
think it is important we follow beef quality guidelines to put the safest, most
nutritious product that is handled in a human manner out there,” Beasley
During the two-year time period, BQA certification in
Illinois increased by 200 percent, the IBA president reported.
“However, we are still a long way from where we need to be,”
he said. “We can’t sit back and be satisfied.”
Working with legislators has been a top priority for
“We have made some great relationships over the years with
the legislators, and that takes phone calls and personal visits,” he said. “This
is not a short battle — it goes on forever.”
And, the IBA president said, once the relationships are
built, they must be maintained.
“My friend, Ned Heltsley, and I are on first-name basis with
many of the staff members in Washington and members of Congress,” he said. “And
many times they call us for our opinions.”
“Ned and I have traveled to all parts of this state, working
on legislative efforts, and we’ve walked the halls of Congress,” he added.
Beasley encouraged the new IBA leadership to remain engaged
“The highlight of my tenure has been the accomplishments
we’ve made with legislators,” he said.
“Even though I was involved, I am not the sole reason for
the success of IBA,” he added. “There are many people involved, including staff,
members of the board and IBA members — all helped make IBA successful.
“Although it has been a successful two years, we didn’t
accomplish everything I wanted to,” Beasley admitted.
“We did have our challenges when early last year our
executive vice president, Maralee (Johnson), was diagnosed with a brain tumor
and left us soon after that,” he said. “But we met the challenges head on, and
Maralee would have wanted us to do that.”
Beasley recalled that he worked well with Johnson.
“She was almost like a big sister I never had,” he noted.
Over the past year, the cattleman said, he has worked
closely with Reid Blossom, who was hired to fill the IBA executive vice
“We text, email, and I appreciate his efforts,” he said.
The IBA president expressed his gratitude to his family for
their support during the time he spent leading the IBA. When he first
interviewed for the position, he recalled, a member of the nominating committee
asked him about the support from his family.
“Those at home make a huge sacrifice, there’s no question
about that,” he stressed. “My wife, Angela; my three kids, Kristen, Brenden and
Wyatt; my mom, dad and Bruce stepped up all those days I was gone.”
Beasley thanked his family for the work they did on the
“The sacrifice they made to cover things while I was gone
has benefited IBA,” he said. “And I thank each and every one of you for your
support of IBA and I over the last couple of years.”