CHICAGO (B)--Cow-calf producers, battling for more influence on the National Cattlemen's Beef Association board of directors, declared a partial victory at the conclusion of the NCBA's mid-year conference in Denver.

The NCBA board Aug. 5 approved in its entirety a proposal sparked by concerns that competing cattle feeders dominate the organization's policy decisions. The resolution stated that those who pay their "fair-share" dues and can prove retained ownership of cattle from conception to harvest are entitled to credit for board membership.

Critics, including the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, had voiced concerns that stocker operators were not included, and that all cattle owners should be free to designate how their NCBA dues would be used.

Even leaders who drafted the measure confessed it would do little to change the composition of the board. They believed the resolution would enhance membership and build stronger relationships with the NCBA state affiliates.

After Saturday's board meeting, a cow-calf representative, who did not want to be identified, said NCBA responded "positively," although the group did not succeed in getting everything it wanted. "They made progress and are energized and prepared to work within the system at NCBA," said the representative.

From the beginning, NCBA President George Hall said cow-calf producers had their chances to build a powerful voice within the organization. Hall claimed they could dominate committee and board decisions, but have not presented a unified front. The issue will be reviewed in two years by NCBA's membership and association services committee.

A proposal to increase NCBA dues was put on hold, while a working group develops a long-term strategy to boost revenue. NCBA's budget committee recommended annual dues increase $30 to $100 for individual members. Another panel suggested any raises should be proportionate for supporting state and national partners.

NCBA treasurer Tom Beard said the organization must generate $290,000 to maintain its policy division in Washington, DC. The working group, appointed by Hall, was expected to report back to the board at NCBA's annual meeting in February in San Antonio.

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