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Source: Cattlemen's Beef Board news release

Cow/calf and seedstock producer Wesley Grau from Grady, N.M., was re-elected by fellow CBB members to serve as chairman of the Cattlemen's Beef Board in 2012, after fulfilling a partial term at the helm in 2011. The vote came today during the 2012 Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

Grau was born in New Mexico and traces his cattle-business beginnings to 1960 when, at the age of 9, his father let him start raising show steers. Grau passed up the opportunity to play basketball in college and decided to earn his bachelor of science degree in agriculture economics instead. He earned enough money from his show steers to start at New Mexico State University in the fall of 1969.

In 1906, Grau's grandfather homesteaded on the place where Grau currently resides. Through the years, his family has accumulated land and grown it to the size it is now. (Grau laughs that they have too many cattle when it's dry and not enough when it's wet.) Historically, the ranch has raised wheat for pasture for weaning calves in winter; his family raised Herefords for half a century and, in 1965, switched to Charolais and have produced registered Charolais cattle ever since.

During his junior year of college, Grau married Elnabeth Teel, a New Mexico native who grew up on a sheep/cattle ranch, and together they have three children: son Marcus (now deceased), daughter Meghan and daughter Micah. The couple has six grandsons.

Today, Grau and his brother, Lane, operate Grau Charolais Ranch, where their primary business is genetics.

"We line breed for predictability, and we've also been fortunate to have raised one of the highest-testing DNA Charolais bulls in the nation for quality grade," says Grau. "We have always performance-tested our cattle, and the reproduction on our cattle is as good as it can get. We operate like a commercial operator - if a cow doesn't give us a calf, she gives us a hide."

The operation markets its cattle all across the United States, Canada and eight states in Mexico. The ranch also holds test records for gain and efficiency from California to Utah to Florida, and Grau says their cattle excel in all seven climatic zones.

Grau started 2011 as vice chairman of the Beef Board then finished out a partial term as chairman beginning in August. He began his full-year term with these thoughts: "I love to have things run correctly. There are right ways and wrong ways to live in this world, and my intentions when I became a Beef Board member were to make sure our producers' money was spent correctly and to make sure we were getting the most mileage out of every dollar being invested.

"I am a peacemaker by heart. I love to bring people together and love to have a general consensus on issues."

As he gets ready to tackle another year as chairman, Grau says he believes that, given the pre-1985 decline per capita beef consumption, increasing environmental pressure on beef producers, and the BSE scare of 2003, had the checkoff not been in existence, he and some of his fellow beef producers may not currently be in the beef business, either.

As he reflects back on what he considered to be the most significant accomplishment of 2011, Grau cites the growth in international markets. "In 2011, we coasted past pre-BSE levels and set new records for value and volume of U.S. beef exports - on track to exceed the $5 billion (with a "b"!) mark for the first time ever.

"And when you consider that there are about 22 times more mouths to feed outside the U.S. as there are inside our borders, the value of those marketing efforts in 80 countries around the world really hits home for me, so I'd say that's definitely a highlight of the year," says Grau. "That's what the checkoff does for me on my own ranch."

Grau says serving as chairman is challenging, yet very rewarding, and that his job is primarily about communications. People don't always agree on the major issues -- sometimes it's the little things, Grau says, adding that he strives to find a common ground and expand upon that.

"We've got millions of acres in the U.S. that cannot be utilized for food for humans except by cattle or some sort of livestock. And they're not making any more land. So we've got to remember the good things our checkoff does, researching and promoting the nutritional benefits of beef to today's consumer, about our more than 29 lean cuts of beef, and about the fact that beef is one of the best brain nutrients that we have."

During his career, Grau has accumulated a long list of industry achievements, including 2009 New Mexico Cattleman of the Year and New Mexico Outstanding Young Farmer and Rancher. He has served in numerous leadership roles, including past president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, New Mexico Charolais Association and New Mexico Beef Cattle Performance Association, and served on the board of directors for the National Cattlemen's Association.

Grau believes in effective communications and isn't into fast-talking, except when it comes to one thing. A little-known fact about Grau? He also used to be an auctioneer.

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