CBB Presents Dr. Billy Powell with Beef Checkoff Visionary Award
Dr. Billy Powell of Washington County, Alabama was presented with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board’s second annual Beef Checkoff Visionary Award during the General Session of the 2022 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting in Reno, Nevada. This honor recognizes an individual in the beef industry who has demonstrated exemplary support of and commitment to the Checkoff’s goals and vision.
“Dr. Powell has been deeply involved with the Beef Checkoff since it was passed back in 1985,” said Norman Voyles, Jr., 2022 chair of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB). “His knowledge of the beef industry goes back decades, and his leadership and ingenuity helped smooth out many of the bumps in the road that the Checkoff experienced, especially in those early years. Dr. Powell is truly deserving of this Visionary Award.”
A native of Leroy, Alabama., Powell grew up on a farm, receiving his first cow when he was just two years old. Over the years, Powell’s family raised timber, along with commercial and registered cattle, primarily the Red Angus breed. He attended Auburn University’s College of Agriculture where he earned his bachelor’s degree in animal sciences in 1966, going on to earn his Ph.D. in meat science in 1970. Powell then became a food science specialist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension service at Auburn University from 1971-1975. He eventually took a position closer to home with Lapeyrouse Grain Company, and when his father passed away shortly thereafter, Powell and his mother co-managed the family’s cattle herd.
Powell served in various cattle industry leadership positions at both the state and national levels over the next few decades. He served as president of the Red Angus Association of America in 1974-75. In 1982, Powell became the president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association (ACA). In 1985, he took on the executive vice president role with ACA, retiring in 2017 after an incredible 32 years with the organization. Around that same time, Jo Ann Smith, then president of the National Cattlemen’s Association, appointed Powell to a committee tasked with developing the Beef Checkoff Order that still helps guide the program today.
Under Powell’s leadership and vision, the State Beef Councils organized to have a collective voice in the national Beef Checkoff program. After the Beef Industry Council and the National Cattlemen’s Association merged to become the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Powell was instrumental in getting the Federation of State Beef Councils to meet independently, strengthening their efforts to promote beef. Powell also worked with others to develop the concept of a State Marketing Plan template that ensured state efforts would complement the national Checkoff’s efforts rather than dilute them. As the purchasing power of the national Beef Checkoff decreased over the years, Powell’s forward thinking spurred Alabama and other states to pass their own $1-per-head checkoffs, providing additional funding for their promotional programs.
One of Powell’s proudest achievements was the establishment of The MOOseum at the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association. Opened in 1995 under his guidance, The MOOseum became the premier venue for children and adults to learn more about Alabama’s beef cattle industry.
“Being named the 2022 Beef Checkoff Visionary Award recipient is a tremendous honor, and I appreciate it very much,” Dr. Powell said. “It’s icing on the cake for a South Alabama country boy who spent a lifetime working in the cattle industry. There are many individuals I’d like to thank for nominating me and working with me throughout the years, because if I’ve accomplished anything, it’s been with the help of others. I still truly believe the Checkoff dollar is the best investment that a producer can make.”
“Dr. Powell’s tireless efforts over the years shaped the Beef Checkoff as we know it today,” said Greg Hanes, CEO of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. “Furthermore, his knowledge and vision helped create mutually beneficial relationships between the national program and the State Beef Councils. Dr. Powell has always had faith in the power of the Beef Checkoff. He’s worked hard for what he believes is right, and we are all the better for it. All of us at the CBB congratulate Dr. Powell on receiving this very well-deserved Visionary Award.”
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.