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 Assurance program.

“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 handling.

“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 said.

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 Beasley.

“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 with legislators.

“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 president position.

“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.

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“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 farm.

“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.”