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Zimmerman hopes he can represent District 5 on Beef Council

District 5

Bill Zimmerman

Family: Wife, Penny, four adult children, 13 grandchildren.

Age: 57

Town: Foley

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Organizations: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, past regional director; Mississippi Valley Cattlemen, Snake River Cattlemen, West Central Cattlemen, Minnesota-Wisconsin Charolais Association board member, American-International Charolais Association, American Simmental Association, Central Livestock Association delegate, Genex Co-op delegate.

FOLEY, Minn. — Bill Zimmerman hopes to be able to serve on the Minnesota Beef Council.

"I’ve run for the beef council a number of times," Zimmerman said. "I’ve always had an interest in serving on the beef council."

Zimmerman was an Extension educator for 19 years, working in Wright and Stevens counties. He and his wife, Penny, operate One Penny Ranch, which includes purebred Charolais, Simmental and Angus cows with some crossbred cows used for embryo recipients.

Penny is president-elect of the Minnesota CattleWomen, Zimmerman said.

The couple own 80 acres in Benton County, which is all pasture. They rent additional pasture for their 80 cow-calf pairs.

Zimmerman works with the people who purchase bulls from One Penny Ranch to buy back their calves to feed them out. He puts groups together to take to custom feedlots in South Dakota and Nebraska. When the cattle are slaughtered, he collects carcass and performance data on his herd’s genetics.

Zimmerman is active in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, having just completed a regional vice president term in February. He’s also been a member of the NCBA issues management committee for a number of years.

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"I am keenly aware of the current issues facing the beef industry," Zimmerman said. "In particular, I am concerned about maintaining and improving consumer demand for beef during this difficult economic time, especially as we face lower-cost competitive animal proteins, healthfulness and obesity concerns, increased scrutiny of our production practices and environmental and activist challenges."

His top three issues facing beef producers:

1. Consumer acceptance of our product. All of the money in the beef industry comes from consumers, Zimmerman said. Cow-calf producers sometimes lose sight of that. The majority of that money comes from people buying beef to consume.

2. Producers have to look at barriers to consumer acceptance. The perceived healthfulness or perceived safety of beef is an issue. There are legitimate food safety issues to address and other issues that get wrapped into food safety in people’s minds, including animal handling and animal welfare issues that must also be discussed.

3. Activist community. There are people whose goal is to reduce or eliminate beef consumption and the beef industry, Zimmerman said. The beef industry needs to have a well-orchestrated response. Beef producers need to put forth a positive message about their industry and how they are producing a quality product for consumers, he said.

— Janet Kubat Willette

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