(WICHITA) – Smith County rancher Philip Weltmer is the new president of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA). He began his one-year term in the volunteer position during the group’s annual membership meeting December 1 in Wichita. Members chose Victoria-native Troy Sander, a cattle feeder now based in Oklahoma City, as the new KLA president-elect. Weltmer and Sander will lead the 5,700-member organization during the next year.
Weltmer represents the third generation of his family in the ranching business. His grandparents founded what is now W & S Ranch near Smith Center in the 1950s. Weltmer and his wife, Jessica, joined his granddad, dad and uncle on the ranch full time almost 20 years ago. Over the years, the family operation has grown to encompass a commercial cow-calf herd, small registered Angus herd, feedyard and farming business.
Weltmer has been extensively involved in leadership in both KLA and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). He served as vice chair of the KLA Animal Health & ID Committee and is a member of the Kansas Beef Council (KBC) executive committee. Nationally, Weltmer currently serves on the Federation of State Beef Councils board of directors and is co-chair of the Checkoff Nutrition & Health Committee. He also is the Region 7 Federation representative on the NCBA Nominating Committee. Weltmer is a past chair of KBC and served on the KLA board of directors from 2016 to 2018. He was a member of the 2008 KLA Young Stockmen’s Academy, serving as class chair, and participated in the NCBA Young Cattlemen’s Conference in 2013. He also is a graduate of the King Ranch Leadership Studies Program and serves as president of the Smith County Fair Board.
Weltmer graduated from K-State in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences and industry. He and Jessica have three children, Kaden, Korey and Kaylee.
Sander is the chief operations manager for Heritage Beef, which operates feedyards in Haskell and Labette counties. His interest in the cattle feeding industry began early in life as he worked alongside his father, Vernon, who was the assistant manager at the former Hays Land and Cattle near Hays. Sander graduated from Fort Hays State University with a degree in animal science in 1991 and took a job as a management trainee with Continental Grain Company’s XIT Feeders near Dalhart, TX.
After completing the training program, he continued gaining experience, first as the animal health manager at Grant County Feeders in 1995, then as assistant manager at Colorado Beef in 1999. After 12 years with Continental Grain Company, he moved to Heritage Beef, where he served as general manager at Heritage Feeders in Wheeler, TX, and eventually was promoted to his current role as operations manager. For nearly 20 years, he has been responsible for buying feeder cattle and overseeing marketing, operations and commodity procurement.
Sander has been a KLA member for 25 years and has served the organization in varying capacities. He currently is a member of the board of directors and has served on the KLA Executive Committee and Policy & Resolutions Committee. Sander was chairman of the KLA Cattle Feeders Council in 2020. He also is active on the national level, serving on the NCBA board of directors and as chairman of the NCBA Live Cattle Marketing Committee from 2022-2023. Sander was a member of the NCBA Live Cattle Marketing Working Group as well.
He and his wife, Lisa, have four sons. Travis and his wife, Carli, have two children, Rory and Kasen. Colten and wife Hayley have one son, Owen. Caden and his wife, Mikayla, just welcomed a new son, Shepherd. Kyle and wife Becca have a son, Jennings.
KLA is a 5,700-member trade organization representing the state’s livestock business on legislative, regulatory and industry issues at both the state and federal levels. The association’s work is funded through voluntary dues dollars paid by its members.