Former major league pitcher among the NCBA convention highlights

The ability to adapt is a common trait among cattle producers and the keynote speaker of General Session II of the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show. Former major league baseball pitcher Jim Abbott joined over 7,500 cattlemen and women in Phoenix, Arizona on Feb. 2 to share his story: “Imperfect: An Improbable Life.”

Renowned farm broadcaster Tony St. James introduced incoming National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board Vice Chair Joan Ruskamp to the stage for Friday’s general session. Ruskamp shared her vision for CBB’s mission to build demand for beef.

“We’re laser focused on building beef demand,” said Ruskamp. “There is no substitute for beef.”

Kester shared his experience during the opening of the Chinese market to U.S. beef that occurred in 2017.

“The emerging middle economy of China is bigger than the United States,” he said.

Kester also discussed the opportunities to continue to improve the regulatory environment for cattle producers nationwide.

While on stage, Abbott, who pitched for the Gold Medal Olympic team in 1988 and threw a 4-0 no-hitter for the New York Yankees in 1993, discussed his own struggles with adversity that began with being born without a right hand.

“If you were to look at the back of my baseball card,” Abbott said, “you’d see that my playing days had a little bit of everything—I won 18 games one year in the major leagues and I also lost 18 games one year and finished dead last.”

Abbott shared his methods to adapt to the challenges that were set before him and how cattlemen and women can use that to adapt to the challenges facing their own operations.

“So much depends on our ability to adapt to challenge,” said Abbott. “No matter what disguise the challenge takes, the question remains the same: ‘what are you going to do about it?’”