Mark Gardiner, a KLA member from Ashland, was elected as the new chairman of U.S. CattleTrace. He began his one-year term in the volunteer position during the organization’s annual symposium November 14-15 in Kansas City. Joe Leathers from Guthrie, TX, was chosen as chair-elect. Gardiner and Leathers will lead the organization during the next year.
Gardiner's roots in the cattle business trace back to 1885 when Gardiner Angus Ranch was established. He graduated with a degree in animal sciences and industry in 1983 and came back to ranch with his father and brother, Greg, who already had returned to the family operation. In early 2000, he took over management of day-to-day operations managing both a commercial cowherd and an Angus seedstock business.
Gardiner’s commitment to the industry extends beyond U.S. CattleTrace, which he has been involved with since its inception in 2018. He played a pivotal role in the creation of U.S. Premium Beef, contributing to its viability for nearly 20 years as board chairman. Additionally, he has served in various leadership roles within his community and the industry, including on his local school and church boards, and with NCBA, the American Angus Association and Irsik & Doll.
Leathers brings decades of experience in the cattle industry. He embarked on his cowboy journey at the age of 19, which laid the groundwork for him to join the staff at the 6666 Ranch in 1998. Since that time, he has advanced from ranch foreman to general manager.
Much like Gardiner, Leathers has volunteered within the industry in many capacities. Recognizing the benefits of electronic ID, Leathers was actively engaged in pilot programs and, subsequently, the formation of U.S. CattleTrace. As a member of the board, he emphasizes the importance of a producer-driven approach to developing a voluntary, viable and efficient traceability program.