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Cattlemen hold annual banquet

The Butler County Cattlemen's Association held its annual banquet Saturday night, and installed

officers for the next year.

Incumbent President Jerry Middleton welcomed over 100 members and their families to the annual steak dinner, and said jokingly, "the price of beef has gotten so low, I think I'll step down and let someone else have it."

After the meal, Middleton introduced the guest speaker.

"I have the honor of introducing someone who has always been a friend to all of us in farming, Wayne Thames, president of the Alabama State Cattlemen's Association."

Thames opened by discussing the importance of agriculture to society.

"The finest people in Alabama are in agriculturenif you are not in it, then just get associated with someone who is and you are doing alright," he said.

He then discussed farming in general.

"It's not a get-rich-quick scheme, but a profession that we can all be proud of," Thames said. "Some 17-percent of the United States' industries come from agricultureone-third of Alabama's industry is agricultural, and one-third of the state's export is from agriculture.

"The three top industries in the state are agricultural in nature. Poultry is first, timber is second, and cattle is third," Thames said.

Next, Thames connected the similarities of other agricultural industries with cattle.

"Anyone involved in agriculture should be involved with the Cattlemen's Association, because the interest is parallel," he said. "With 12,000 members statewide, we are the third largest state association in America."

Thames next discussed new breakthroughs in the beef industry, with regard to marketing.

"The State Association was able to put up a research grant to be used strictly for developing new product line of beef.

"A $250,000 research grant was awarded to the processor that could produce new quick-meal beef food productsfood that can be in and out of the microwave oven in less than seven to ten minutes. As an example, the working family can now come home, and in ten minutes have a fully-cooked beef roast fixed and ready to serve," Thames said.

"These new products have caused a three-to-four percent increase beef sales," he said.

Thames discussed a new "heart-health" revelation that has impacted, and actually improved the public's perception of beef.

"Unlike previously thought, the effect of beef on health is portion-related, and not simply that it is beef. Same-sized portions of beef are just as healthy as chicken and fish," Thames said. "If you think about it, there is not a lot of meat on a drumstickgranted, you can't eat a 16-ounce sirloin, but if you have an equal-sized portion of meat, beef is just as healthythere is more vitamin, iron and mineral content in the beef that there is in any other meat."

Thames said that the new products are the result of beef producers.

"The $1 per-head beef check-off at the market is what has paid for this research," he said.

At the conclusion of Thames' speech, Carl Tillery, a local inspirational songwriter, entertained the group.

Following the intermission, President Middleton took the podium again.

"We are proud to announce that this will be the fourth year that we have been able to award a scholarship to a student growing up in the cattle industry of Butler County," Middleton said. "We use the same impartial judging that all other local cattle associations will use in determining the most qualified student for the awardand we are proud that we were able to submit three students for consideration."

Middleton then offered his thanks to the Quality Co-op. "We are grateful to the people at the co-op for all of the support they continually give to us all," he said.

Bobbie Odom, the president of the Butler County Cattlewomen's Association, then spoke to the group.

"This year, we were able to have a publicity booth at the Butler County Fair, promoting beef recipes," she said. "Also, I would like to remind everyone that the State Convention will be held in Montgomery, Feb. 16-17."

President Middleton then presented the slate of officers elected for the next year. "Will Crenshaw has been elected as the new president, Neal English as the vice-president, Sam Parmer as treasurer and Russty Parrish as secretary," he said.

After holding a cake auction, with "Bull" Owens as the auctioneer, the meeting was concluded.