Agriculture

5 questions with Matt Teagarden

Matt Teagarden is the new executive director of the Kansas Livestock Association.
Matt Teagarden is the new executive director of the Kansas Livestock Association. Courtesy photo

Matt Teagarden is the new executive director of the Kansas Livestock Association. In his post, he’s the professional directing the industry’s main advocacy group in the state.

Formerly the organization’s chief lobbyist, Teagarden, 45, takes over for long-time KLA executive director Dee Likes.

Q. 1 What’s the outlook for the cattle business?

A. We’ve seen record prices during 2014 throughout the system, from seed stock producers to the retailers, and that has created some profit opportunities for all segments of the business and really sets up 2015 as we enter the year. We need to work on increasing the herd, expanding the number of cows so we have more numbers moving through the system to better utilize our feed yard capacity and processing capacity.

Q. 2 What’s your biggest challenge at the state level?

A. The revenue shortfall and the state budget gap presents the potential for some closer scrutiny on use-value appraisal, our system for valuing agriculture land based on its income-producing potential, rather than its market value. … Market value is not a good measure, especially in urban areas where encroachment is really driving the market value of land.

Q. 3 Will it be difficult to change federal regulations requiring Country of Origin Labeling on beef?

A. It has been so far. We opposed the law in the first place and have advocated for a change since it went into effect. Hopefully, it will get to the critical point and members of Congress will see how damaging it could be, not only to the beef industry here, but to other industries. Canada has targeted a long list of items for retaliatory tariffs, over a billion dollars a year. That will be painful.

Q. 4 Will that be easier when the new, more Republican Congress takes over?

A. I think it will be easier. … As you look at Sen. (Pat) Roberts, who will likely be the next chairman of the Ag Committee, he’s a strong advocate for our position and has understood the dangers it creates with our trading partners.

Q. 5 Will it be tough to replace Dee Likes, who led the KLA for three decades?

A. Yeah, it will be difficult, but I’m encouraged by the culture, the strong team that we have in place. The empowerment that he provides to staff, that is what I want to continue. He gives us our jobs and lets us go do them.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.

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