Local installed as state cattlemen president
Saturday morning, Orland Britnell was sitting on his farm, looking after his 40-someodd head of cattle. Last night, he was installed as president of the Alabama Cattlemen's Association, overseeing an organization of nearly 12,000 members.
Over the past several years, Britnell has served as the county association president, county association secretary and treasurer and currently serves as a director for the county.
He's also served as the state association's regional vice president, state vice president and president-elect.
Last night, at a ceremony held at the Marriot in downtown Birmingham, Britnell took over the top post in the state Cattlemen Association and became the first state association president from Northwest Alabama.
"There's six counties, Franklin, Lauderdale, Marion, Colbert, Winston, and that have never had a president," he said. "I'm the first one from this area."
Britnell, who has been a county cattleman since 1962, has lived on the same family-owned and operated farm since 1940 – a farm he now shares with his children and grandchildren.
"My Daddy bought this farm when I was five," Britnell said, who is now 72. "Now, my daughter, her husband and my three grandkids live here, too."
Britnell, who describes himself as a "small (cattle) producer," said he has high goals for his 12 month term.
"I want to work on a marketing strategy to get better cattle prices for the farmers," he said. "I'll work with livestock marketers to help the profitability of the family farm."
Britnell said he also wants to help other counties establish a steak sandwich sale similar to the one the Franklin County chapter has made so successful and see those proceeds put back into those county's schools.
"A steak sandwich sale will help the county's increase membership and it will do something good for their community," he said. "It's a good way to promote the organization and it will use up a lot of beef."
Promoting the small farmers and the importance of the family farm is something Britnell has put near the top of his list.
"Family farming is important to the people," he said. "I'll try to help farms of all sizes. We need farms of all sizes, from a few heads of cattle to a few hundred heads. It's all important."
Among his duties as state president, Britnell said he will help promote cattle and the beef industry, which would include trips to legislative meetings.
He will also help manage the state's beef check off program, which helps to market Alabama beef and farmers, while growing membership around the state.
Franklin County's chapter's membership has grown from 116 to 321 members in the past nine years. The state has set a goal to increase membership by 500 in 2008.
"When I joined the Cattlemen, I never set out to be president," he said. "I retired about 10 years ago and was able to devote a little more time to it, and I enjoy it. The volunteers, the directors and the members of the county association are who's helped me get to where I am. It's not anything I've done. It's a lot of people working together."