Chuck Massengill looks back on year as MCA president
By Doug Rich
As Chuck Massengill completed his term as president of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association at the 46th annual meeting Jan. 2 to 4 in Osage Beach, Mo., he noted members are starting to develop a sense of ownership for their association.
“Our executive committee members have taken a fresh and intense interest in the direction and success of our association,” Massengill said in his final report to the membership. “I have witnessed increased involvement by our regional vice presidents in the local affiliates as well as a renewed enthusiasm in organizing new affiliates.”
Over the past year Massengill said he enjoyed visiting the county affiliates across the state. He had the opportunity to meet with people who do not regularly attend the annual convention and people who don’t attend board meetings.
“The enthusiasm has been phenomenal,” Massengill said.
Massengill and his wife operate a cow-calf operation near California, Mo., where they concentrate on the reproductive efficiency of their herd and sell bred heifers.
“We focus on heifer calves born in the first 30 days of our calving season,” Massengill said. “Those are the ones we plan to keep, breed and sell.”
This year, however, they plan to keep all of their heifers and start rebuilding their herd. The last two years they had to sell all of their production along with 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old cows because of the drought.
Massengill said producers in north central and northern Missouri are short on pasture because they are still in the severe drought classification. In south central Missouri where he lives the ponds were low, but they had adequate grass last year and a good hay crop.
“A lot of folks my age and older are getting out of the business,” Massengill said. “They are leasing the land, taking out the fences, and planting corn or soybeans. A lot of that land will never come back to grass until it becomes heavily eroded and the government pays producers to put it back to grass. The pressure on our cow herd has been the loss of pasture and hay land being converted to crops.”
During the past year MCA was successful in helping to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of Senate Bill 9, which contained two items of special interest to cattle producers. Massengill said MCA supported legislation that would make the theft of cattle a Class B felony on first offense if the value of the livestock exceeds $10,000. In the past cattle theft in Missouri was not severely treated on a first offense.
“Obviously with today’s market it does not take long to load $10,000 worth of cattle on a trailer, “ Massengill said.
The second item in Senate Bill 9 of interest to cattle producers was a change to the animal abuse and neglect law. Prior to passage of Senate bill 9 a person was guilty of animal neglect when he or she had custody, ownership or both of an animal and failed to provide adequate care or adequate control that results in substantial harm to the animal. It was the adequate control clause that caused problems for livestock owners.
“It became a weapon that urban and suburban prosecutors could use when a rancher’s cattle got out and instead of calling the rancher to let him know his cattle were out, they called the sheriff and had them arrested for animal abuse and neglect,” Massengill said. “We were fortunate that we had a legislator who had been a prosecutor and he realized the problems with that clause.”
Senate Bill 9 included new language for the crime of animal trespass. The bill states that if a person having ownership or custody of an animal knowingly fails to provide adequate control for a period equal to or exceeding 12 hours they are guilty of animal trespass. The first convention for animal trespass is an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed $200. Subsequent convictions are a Class C misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment or fine not to exceed $500.
Massengill said the association continues to work on animal health issues like traceability and trichomoniasis.
Now that his term as MCA president has ended, Massengill will spend the next year as chairman of the MCA executive committee.
Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304 or by email at email@example.com.