JERMYN, Pa. â€" Twenty-five years ago, if you were to have asked Pennsylvania Cattlemen's President Jeff Nogan and his wife Ann if they expected to be where they are today, they would have told you it's impossible.
"There was no big plan," said Jeff
."We did it backwards."
While most business experts stress farmers should have a detailed plan of action with the farm, Jeff
said they did not, growing slowly and expanding first until Ann could remain home on the farm full time while raising the couple's two boys.Then as the herd expanded and with the establishment of an agricultural/cattle supply and custom forage bagging business, Jeff
also returned home to the farm full time.
The farm's scope today is a reflection of the family's interest.Ann and their son Dave enjoy the cow-calf operation.Jeff
prefers feeding out cattle, which are sent to Cargill-Taylor Packing when finished.
...After joining, Jeff eventually became a director in 2004 and was then elected president in 2006.
Jeff credits sons Dave and Ben and wife Ann for making his
presidency a reality.Both sons quickly step in to help keep the farm running when Jeff
is called away by the organization.Jeff's tenure as president started out smoothly with longtime executive secretary Lowell Wilson assisting Jeff with running the organization.
With Wilson's unexpected death last year, suddenly Jeff
would be charged with overseeing a period of change for the organization.
Jeff credits Ann's willingness to help him sort through everything on behalf of the board a blessing.In addition, Jeff
stressed that Wilson's fianceÃ© Gloria Schniepp and his children worked closely with the association keep the organization running smoothly.
The greatest challenge has been that "it takes a lot of effort for simple matters," Jeff
said as he
and Ann figure out the status of things."Our goal is to understand the organization.We want to know what is what."
The PCA board of directors has been a source of strength through the transition, said Jeff
and Ann.The board has worked together dividing up responsibilities, setting up committees to oversee programs and working for the betterment of the organization.As president, Jeff said his one goal is "to leave the organization a little better than he found it."
No matter what happens in the long term, the organization is moving toward a different structure and look.Jeff
and the board of directors have placed more responsibilities into committees and believe they are seeing results.Members, Jeff
believes, want the opportunity to participate either as a director or in some other way.With the new structure, those opportunities are more readily available.
The board, he
said, is in the process of evaluating what the duties of an association executive secretary will be.The key in the entire process is moving carefully and cautiously, making the best decision for the organization.
As for policy development, Jeff
believes there is a role for the organization to play in making sure that Pennsylvania keeps its potential for beef production.
The state organization has a legislative committee and is one area the organization needs to address.
In this agriculture climate, Jeff
said farmers need to find a unifying voice on what is best for the cattle industry and agriculture as a whole.When asked what challenges faced Pennsylvania's cattle industry Jeff
pointed to the rising costs for inputs, developmental pressure, taxes and health care.
One of the largest benefits of the organization is networking and educational opportunities.Both Ann and Jeff
said there is no doubt of their value.