Local rancher Laramie Stipe was chosen to be the next president of the Malheur County Cattlemen’s Association earlier this month. Stipe operates his own ranch and is a loan officer at Columbia Bank in Ontario. (Submitted photo)

VALE – Willowcreek rancher Matt Rockwell was running out of time.

Rockwell was nearing the end of his two-year stint as the president of the Malheur County Cattlemen’s Association and while he found the work to be rewarding, he discovered the job of operating his own ranch was gobbling up more of his time.

So, Rockwell reached out to 25-year-old Laramie Stipe, another county rancher, and encouraged him to step up and take over the top slot for the local cattlemen’s group.

Stipe said he had “kind of been involved with the association the last three years or so” and thought about Rockwell’s suggestion.

At the association’s recent annual dinner at the Boulevard Grange, Stipe was elected to replace Rockwell.

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In a way, the elevation to the president’s position is a natural progression for Stipe as the cattle industry is in his blood. Stipe said his family owns a ranch near Nyssa and Stipe and his wife operate their own outfit between Cairo Junction and Nyssa.

Stipe said he was helped by the encouragement of Rockwell and Malheur County Cattlemen’s Association treasurer Karen King.

Other officers of the Malheur County Cattlemen’s Association include Bonnie Christensen, secretary, of Willowcreek, and Marta Stoddart-Martin, vice president, of Jordan Valley.

Stipe said there are a “lot of things I want to do” as president of the local association.

“Just getting more people and producers involved in knowing what is really going on,” he said.

That includes, he said, keeping an eye on new state and federal regulations that could impact cattle producers.

“Kind of find the best way to handle different regulations, to be proactive rather than reactive,” said Stipe.

Stipe, who works as a loan officer at Columbia Bank in Ontario, said he also wants to highlight the concerns of the local cattle producer.

“There are also different ways of branding and marketing U.S.-grown beef that American ranchers have been kind of at a disadvantage and I’d like to take those voices to the state or national level,” said Stipe.

Rockwell said he believes Stipe is a good fit for president.

“I think he will be good. I think he is very well versed in the agriculture area,” said Rockwell.

Rockwell said he enjoyed his time as president but needed to step away.

“I have got so much else on my plate. New blood, new leadership, that is always good,” said Rockwell.

Rockwell said he can now spend more time working on his own operation, which includes a grass-fed beef component.

“I will swing back to focus on making a living and it seems like it takes all day just do to that,” said Rockwell.

Rockwell is part of Desert Mountain Grass Fed Beef, LLC, a coalition of Oregon and Idaho ranchers that aim to expand their market across the Northwest.

Stipe said the cattle market is “kind of middle ground right now.”

“There are not great things going on as far market price but there are not too many things to complain about either,” he said.

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