After more than a dozen years serving in leadership positions at the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, Alex Johns is primed to take over as president at the organization’s annual convention in June in Orlando.
Johns, who runs the Tribe’s cattle program, will preside over the nearly 5,000 member organization made up of cattle producers and affiliates, which represent about $700 million in annual calf sales in the state.
“We keep our fingers on the pulse of politics, regulations and what we want to support or fight,” said Johns, the Tribe’s natural resource director. “We also do a lot of research on cattle fertility, forages, disease and economics and work closely with researchers from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.”
According to a 2010 membership survey, the FCA’s most important function takes place far from the wide open pastures, but in the halls of power in Tallahassee and Washington DC.
Lobbying efforts, preserving the history of Florida Ranching, working with UF/IFAS and promotion of the cattle industry were the top reasons FCA members cited for retaining their membership in the association. The survey found that members believe the association is crucial to the sustainability and longevity of Florida’s beef industry.
Johns believes his involvement in FCA brings positive exposure to the Tribe’s cattle program. Last year the program sold and shipped out about 4,000 calves valued at more than $3 million.
Raising lawmakers’ awareness of the Tribe’s involvement in agriculture and what it adds to the state economy is a prime example of the work Johns does and will continue to do as FCA president.
“I have ready access to all the politicians in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. and get to have one-on-one conversations with those guys and educate them about the Tribe and what we do,” he said. “I let them know there’s a lot more to us than casinos. When I go in a cowboy hat, they know this isn’t just another gaming issue.”
Johns began climbing the ranks of the FCA began about 13 years ago when as an FCA member, he began working on committees. From there he served two years as the Glades County FCA president and two more as district director. The path to the presidency started six years ago with his appointment as secretary. Every year thereafter he was promoted to treasurer, second vice president, first vice president and president elect.
When he is officially named president, Johns will have the experience and knowledge to further the work of the FCA and the Tribe.
“We participate in a lot of programs that we may not have been aware of had I not been in the FCA,” Johns said. “It allows me to stay more up to date than I could just by getting extension letters from the county; it allows me to be involved in decisions and actually have a voice at the table.”
Johns will be inaugurated as president at the Florida Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting June 19 to 21 at the Omni Championship Resort in Orlando. For more information visit www.floridacattlemen.org.