The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) has named Greg Hanes as its new CEO. Hanes comes to the CBB from the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff, where he was most recently the vice president of international marketing programs.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I was born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where cattle producers, with their solid work ethic and honesty, are simply part of the culture. My dad was a multigeneration Wyoming native, and my mom immigrated to the United States from Germany after World War II. Hearing stories from my mom, her siblings and my grandma about growing up in war-ravaged Germany and how they had to leave everything they owned behind in order to flee the Russian army had a powerful impact on me and my younger brother. Because of that, we always valued and appreciated everything we had.
After high school, I went to Colorado College (CC) in Colorado Springs and majored in economics. During my junior year, I studied abroad in Japan because it was “taking over the world” economically at the time. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Despite how different the culture, language, food and everything was, that experience showed me that at our core, people are people. After I graduated from CC, I spent a year back in Japan teaching English in public junior high schools with the Japan Education and Teaching Program.
After spending a bit more time in Japan and Asia, I enrolled in graduate school at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, Arizona and received a master’s degree in international management. I worked several jobs in Denver before joining USMEF in 1996. There, I worked with the international offices and helped to write the government funding proposal called the Unified Export Strategy document.
After four years with USMEF in Denver, my family had the opportunity to move back to Japan. At the time, we had two young kids – one was 3 years old and the other was only 9 months old. If we wanted them to learn the Japanese language and culture, now was the time, so we moved to Japan. I worked in telecommunications for five years and then, rejoined USMEF as the Japan director. After four years in that role, I transferred back to USMEF’s Denver headquarters where I have been the last 10 years – most recently as the vice president of international marketing programs.
Q: Why did you choose to make the jump from USMEF to the CBB?
Working for USMEF, I am well aware of the huge impact building international demand for beef has on bringing more value back to producers. At the same time, I have always been impressed by the excellent staff at the CBB and their dedication to the beef industry. When this opportunity arose, it seemed like the perfect way to leverage my deep appreciation and enthusiasm for the checkoff, beef producers, all the contractors and the CBB staff to help make the program even more successful going into the future.
Q: With your background at USMEF, you bring extensive knowledge of exports and international markets. How do you feel your experience with USMEF has prepared you to take the helm of the Beef Checkoff?
Working at USMEF has given me a deep understanding of the huge impact the checkoff can have on increasing the value of beef, both international and domestically. And, there are so many things the checkoff is doing to help build that demand.
I also had the opportunity to work with many of the state beef councils and other key partners and stakeholders in our industry. Not only has this allowed me to develop close relationships with many of those individuals and groups, but it has also given me insight into many of the issues the checkoff faces.
Q: The CBB is essential to ensuring the Beef Checkoff remains strong and thriving in the future. What do you feel the checkoff is doing well, and what does it need to work on in the months and years ahead? How do you foresee your role fitting into that mission?
There are so many things the checkoff is doing well; however, we need to ensure that producers around the country know exactly what these efforts are. The CBB has recently launched some new initiatives to facilitate producer communications, so I am excited to see how these efforts reach producers, what works and what doesn’t, and then adapt to continually make our outreach more effective.
Q: Lastly, what else would you like beef producers to know about you?
I want beef producers to know that I am 100 percent behind them. My sole focus is to ensure the checkoff is doing all it can to provide producers with the greatest returns and bring them the highest possible value they can get for each animal. Ranching and beef production has a long and storied history, and I want to make sure that history continues long into the future. Ranching is all about families, and I hope to see every ranch passed down to the next generation and the next.
The Beef Checkoff program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.