Get to know: District I Vice President Rusty Inglis
Rusty Inglis is the new District I Vice President – but Rusty is far from new to this association. For 40 years Rusty has been involved one way or another with OCA.
“I first became a member when I picked up the OCA magazine at the time, called Oregon Beef Producer, and I said to myself you know, if I’m in this business then I really need to be involved in this association,” said Rusty.
Rusty is a first-generation cattle rancher. He planted his roots in Princeton, just southeast of Burns in Harney County. Unlike many who have been in the industry for decades, Rusty was not born onto a ranch. His father was a mill worker, but eventually it was a lifestyle that drew him in.
“Most of my friends lived on ranches, so I spent a lot of time watching and learning. My real passion when I was younger was horses and eventually, I needed to get a few cattle to train horses on and after that I was hooked on raising cattle,” said Rusty.
Rusty’s involvement in the association grew to having an active voice in committee discussions because he wanted to do his part to promote the lifestyle he enjoyed and the industry he represented. He served as OCA’s Membership Committee chair for eight years. While chair of that committee he was involved in membership development, engagement brainstorming, benefit review, rates for dues, and level of membership structure.
This past year, Rusty was asked if he would be interested in stepping into a new role with the association as a district vice president – to which he welcomed throwing his name in the hat for the position and at the 2021 Annual Convention in Pendleton, Rusty was elected by the general membership.
OCA’s District I is made up of Harney, Malheur, and Grant counties. If you take a look at Oregon’s map, those three counties alone comprise almost a quarter of the state’s land mass. If you’ve never traveled through those counties, they are about as western as you can get, and ranching is the primary livelihood for most who call them home.
“The number one economic driver in all three counties is the cow/calf industry,” said Rusty, “Another thing that’s unique to my area is many people in this district rely on public lands, BLM permits for grazing.”
According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s 2021 Oregon Ag Statistics Directory. In 2020, Malheur County had the highest inventory of all cattle and calves in Oregon at 165,000 head. Malheur county also has the highest inventory of only beef cows at 75,000 head followed closely in second by Harney County with 68,000 head of beef cattle. What’s even more impressive is that the inventory for all three counties of beef cattle is 165,000 head, which is over a quarter of the entire inventory for the state in 2020. The United States 2019 Census recorded a population of slightly over 45,000 people combined who reside in Harney, Malheur, and Grant counties. To put it in perspective, that means there’s roughly three and half cattle for every person that lives in the district! So, it’s safe to say, when you think of OCA’s District I you can think of cattle.
Goals for 2022
Rusty says he has two primary goals for this year. While he is no longer serving as OCA’s membership chair so that he can focus on his duties as a District Vice President, he says that he has shifted some of his focus to the legislative committee.
“There’s so many issues and policies surrounding our industry right now, there’s not just one we can hang our hat on, but they really need our attention; we must focus on the legislative issues right now,” said Rusty.
His second goal for the year is to further his passion for helping young men and women break into the industry. Nowadays, on his own operation, Rusty leases his land to a young couple who is slowly acquiring his herd. He still oversees land management and acts as a mentor, but he wants to see the next generation benefit from what he has started.
“It’s almost impossible for young people to afford the land and the cattle at start up these days. I want to see them succeed, I want to find ways to help people keep this industry alive,” said Rusty.
He also noted that not every child born into the ranching lifestyle will return to the ranch, but there are some who weren’t raised that way who would jump at an opportunity. “I want to see the next generation have the same opportunities I had and maybe OCA can help provide those resources,” said Rusty.
Finally, Rusty wanted to convey that his favorite part of this association is the people involved. “I have met so many new friends and there’s no words to express how valuable the community and the family, I’ve gained has been,” he said. If you’re in District I, reach out to your new Vice President and say hello.