The trail of success
The Kansas Livestock Association is a trade association representing 5,600 members on legislative and regulatory issues. KLA was formed in 1894 when a group of more than 100 Flint Hills ranchers met in Emporia to discuss cattle theft problems and unreasonable railroad freight rates.
The association fought and won many battles through the early years. Issues addressed included a state indemnity for ranchers who lost animals due to hoof-and-mouth disease in 1915, alleged market manipulation by packers in 1916, the Texas Fever lawsuit against the federal government in 1926 and a beef boycott by Boston restaurant owners in 1928. KLA officers also traveled to Washington, D.C. to obtain an exemption for farm labor from the military draft in 1917.
Through the latter part of the century, KLA continued to strive toward a better business atmosphere for ranchers and feeders. In 1975, KLA pushed a bill through the Kansas legislature calling for prompt payment on fed cattle by packers. The organization led the charge for similar federal legislation the following year despite opposition from the packing industry. KLA fought regulation of the trucking industry in 1978 because the changes would have been unrealistic for hauling livestock. In 1986, Kansas voters approved a constitutional amendment crafted by KLA and other farm groups calling for use-value appraisal on ag land and exempting farm machinery and livestock from the property tax rolls. This helped keep the state’s business climate on a level playing field with other states and is considered to be the biggest tax victory in KLA’s history.
The organization celebrated its centennial in 1994, with special activities taking place throughout the year. A book was written to commemorate the group’s 100th year in existence by Jim Hoy, a native of the Flint Hills who is on the faculty at Emporia State University.
KLA is one of the nation’s most respected state cattlemen’s organizations. The leadership of KLA was instrumental in recommending and implementing the merger between the National Cattlemen’s Association and National Livestock and Meat Board. Through creation of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in 1995, the industry streamlined operations at the national level, mirroring a unified organizational structure that has served KLA well for more than 100 years.
Today, KLA represents the state’s multi-billion dollar cattle industry at both the state and federal levels. KLA members are involved in all segments of the livestock industry including cow-calf, feedlot, swine, dairy and sheep. Dues paid by the membership fund legislative, educational and communications activities.