Having a leadership role in the beef industry comes naturally to Tracy Brunner of Cow Camp Ranch near Ramona, Kan. However, to become a leader he has also embraced the importance of a team and what that means to an operation’s or an organization’s overall success.
Tracy is the fourth generation of the Brunner Family on Cow Camp Ranch where he works alongside his brothers, Mark and Kent as well as Kent’s son Nolan. About 30 years ago, it was decided that working together would be the best way to run the farm and ranch business.
“Our family has always worked together closely. From an early age we were taught to work together and as we got older and became the generation making the decisions, we saw the value in that.” Brunner says.
Brunner is also grateful for the board of directors that have been crucial in the decision-making process as well as loyal and intelligent employees who have made a large contribution to the success of the operation.
According to Brunner, one of the most unique aspects about the operation is the diversity. Cow Camp is involved in the cattle industry from genetics to ranching and grazing to finishing. With this, they are encouraged to look at the entire beef production system or beef value chain as much or more so than most operations.
“We’re interested in animals that will be efficient for the cowman as well as the stocker operation, cattle feeder, the processor and ultimately the consumer,” he says.
His role with the family operation is mostly with the feedyard and finishing business in addition to the grazing side of the business. These responsibilities may keep him busy on the ranch, but not so much that it kept him from getting involved in industry organizations.
Recently at the Cattlemen’s Annual Convention and NCBA Trade Show held in February in Nashville, Tenn., Brunner was elected to serve as the NCBA Vice President. In this role, he is a part of a seven-officer team that meets as needed to lead the organization. Prior to this, he served as the president of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) in 2008.
“I believe it is a good investment of time to try and serve the industry and hopefully make it better,” he says. “I enjoy working with other producers and feel fortunate to have been able to meet and work with so many great people over the years.”
Brunner has also had the opportunity to work with the Beef Cattle Institute (BCI) at Kansas State University several times over the years where he has assisted with symposium events. Additionally, he speaks well of the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training modules that are hosted by the BCI.
“We grow cattle all around the country in many different environments, but there is a need to assure that the quality of our beef product is not only as high quality as possible, but also safe,” he says.
He feels that the BQA program highlights how producers are working together cooperatively in beef quality.
“Some consumers already have questions have about the way their beef is produced,” he added. “In the near future consumers may desire standards on the how their food was grown and delivered to their table. BQA may become a foundation to help meet those standards. “