Kevin H. Buse, TCFA Chairman
It’s no secret—Kevin Buse loves the cattle business and his passion for the industry derives from a sincere appreciation for those around him.
“I’m a big believer in people,” Buse says. “I think the only reason I'm even successful at any level is because of the people by my side.”
Buse lives in Amarillo with his wife, Renee. They have three children, Brock, Baron and Belle. He’s quick to recognize that the cattle business is a family business, one that too few have the opportunity to experience.
“It's fun to watch them grow up on the farm and learn how to do things that 20 and 40 years ago, every kid knew how to do,” he says. “Today, that's not the case for most kids. It’s special.”
His hope is, one day, they’ll appreciate who they are and what this livelihood taught them.
PATH TO SUCCESS
The CEO of Champion Feeders grew up in Sterling, Colo. However, he spent summers in Texas, where he learned the ins and outs of a feedyard at an early age. “I grew up at Lockney Feedyard,” he says. “From the time I was old enough to be legitimate help, around eight, I spent every summer there.”
He credits his family, specifically Hank Winter, his grandfather and early TCFA member, for the opportunities that led him to a career in cattle feeding. Buse graduated from Sterling High School and attended Colorado State University, where he earned an animal science degree.
“After that, I loaded up everything I had and moved to Amarillo to work for Friona Industries,” he says. He soaked in every opportunity possible from doctoring cattle at Randall County Feedyard to managing the mill at Friona Feedyard.
In 2000, Buse became assistant manager at Swisher County Cattle Company. Three years later, Champion Feeders offered him a management position and piece of ownership. He’s been there ever since.
Champion Feeders prides itself in building champion partnerships for the future. Its priority is producing the safest beef in the world with the best producers in the business.
“There’s nothing more gratifying than building a business and watching it grow,” Buse says. “Building relationships and enabling your customers and their families to be successful is second to none.”
For some, success may become boring over time. But that’s not the case in the feedyard, Buse explains. “If you’re doing things the right way and with the right people, you’d think after time it may become boring,” he says. “There’s no boring in this business and I enjoy that.”
GET TO WORK MENTALITY
When asked about his favorite part of the job, he quickly attributes it to the daily grind. “The nonstop is great. It's seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” he says. “The action that comes with buying, feeding, selling and owning cattle is what I love most.”
Kevin recalls attending TCFA Summer Meeting with his family at a young age—a memory that guides his commitment to volunteer leadership.
“Engaging with TCFA, to me, has always been extremely important,” he says. “It was always something that my family took a lot of pride in being a part of.”
His engagement while serving as TCFA Chairman has not been lacking. Most notably, along with representatives from various cattle producing states, he served on NCBA’s price discovery and negotiated trade working groups. What may have been an unfavorable task for some, Buse eagerly took on the role with a get-to-work mentality—a mindset that paid off.
In collaboration with their respective organizations, cattle producers within the group spent 18 months voluntarily working to increase price discovery and provide tools to increase market transparency. Ultimately, these industry-led efforts proved increasing negotiated trade volumes is possible without a government mandate.
As a result, at NCBA’s Cattle Industry Convention in February, the association adopted policy to oppose government mandates or any interference with a feeder’s ability to market cattle—a win and step in the right direction for Buse and TCFA members.
“Developing member-driven policy in a transparent manner where all perspectives can be heard is essential,” Buse says. “Through that process, TCFA members demonstrated our commitment to improving negotiated trade and price discovery, yet we remain diligent in our efforts to build upon this success.”
A SEAT AT THE TABLE
In 2010, Buse represented TCFA at NCBA’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference. He also served on the TCFA board of directors from 2010 to 2012 before rejoining the board and accepting an officer position as Vice Chairman in 2020.
“There are not enough superlatives to properly commend Kevin’s work ethic and passion for our industry,” says Ben Weinheimer, TCFA president and CEO. “Kevin is a true advocate for cattle feeders as he continuously volunteers his time to find solutions to complex issues while ensuring everyone in the room has a voice.”
If there is one thing Kevin Buse aims to communicate during his time as TCFA chairman, it’s that he wants everyone to have a seat at the table when it comes to the association.
“I just would like for everybody to understand that it takes all of us to succeed and we need as many good minds at the table as we can possibly get,” he says. “If we lack the minds at the table, it hurts our business.”
He adds that while all TCFA members may not always agree on everything, there are aspects of the association that can benefit everyone.
Buse says the entire supply chain working together is critical moving forward. He says TCFA is one vehicle to facilitate collaboration and motivation throughout the industry. Yet, he believes it’s a matter of individuals from across the board coming to the table to improve the industry and ensure its success.
“We have new competitors. We’re up against plant-based and cell-cultured products,” he says. “And that’s okay if that’s what the consumer wants, but as cattle producers, we all have to be at the table, working together, to advocate for the beef industry and ensure folks have the opportunity to stay in this business.”
For anyone looking to start a career in cattle feeding, Buse says they should know they can’t be in it for the money, but because they love it and want to show up every day.
“You have to do it because you take pride in producing something that you know is high quality and makes everybody better,” he says. “For someone coming into this business, you have to do it for the right reasons. If you do it strictly for the money, then you won't be in it very long.”
Spend time with him, and you’ll find that he practices what he preaches. It’s not money or special status that got Buse to where he is today. Instead, it’s a pull yourself up by your bootstraps attitude, gritty work ethic, and relentless determination for success, not only for himself but for his family, customers and the cattle industry as a whole.