By Jean Caspers-Simmet
AMES, Iowa — After 21 years working with the beef industry in Colorado and California, Bruce Berven is happy to be back at the helm of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, a job he held from 1978 to 1985.
"It was like it was meant to be," Berven said during a recent interview at his office in Ames.
Berven was raised on a Webster City farm. He worked for ISU Extension before taking the ICA job the first time.
"You could say I’m recycled, I’m a retread," Berven says with a chuckle. "The industry in Iowa has changed significantly, and the association has changed considerably in the 22 years I’ve been gone."
Berven spent 11 years in Colorado primarily at the U.S. Meat Export Federation working with foreign market development of beef and U.S. meat products. He also worked with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Board as the National Beef Checkoff was being implemented.
But over time, it became clear to Berven that he was happiest working for a state organization where he had closer contact with the industry and more interaction with members.
"I made the decision that if a position with a state organization opened up I’d pursue it," he said. "California was one of the states I was interested in. California has a huge and diverse consumer population and a very significant cattle industry. As the number one dairy state there are a lot of Holstein cattle. There are a lot of ranches and there are a couple of pockets of large feedlots."
About that time he received a call that the California Beef Council was looking for an executive vice president. He worked in that position until 2003.
In 2003 he went to work for Harris Ranch Beef Co., owned by the larger Harris Farms Inc.
"It was a wonderful opportunity for me, but in 2006 we decided to move back to Iowa for family reasons," he said.
Berven found a job in Des Moines, and after just two days on the job, he got a call from the president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. There was a vacancy and the association needed help.
"In a way it was like a dream come true," he said.
Berven and his wife, Ann, live in Ankeny. They have three grown children and 8 grandchildren.