Get to know: District VII Vice President Mike Alger
Mike Alger is the new OCA District VII Vice President. Mike has been involved in OCA for the past three years. He became a member of OCA when the Northwest Meat Processor Association said they wanted to work on building a relationship with cattle producers. Mike jumped at the opportunity to be more involved.
“I was on the board for that association at the time and I really love raising cattle more than running the butcher shop, so I was all in to become more involved in OCA,” said Mike.
Mike runs Willamina Meat Services, a butcher shop his parents bought in 1969 and then he later purchased from them in 1997. Mike also runs a cattle operation in Lincoln County. Mike says ranching and cattle have always been a calling for him.
“I was a volunteer firefighter for 20 years, I worked with grass seed for seven years, and spent six years working on a hop farm,” he said, “I made a go at college, but I can remember one day in English class, I just thought this isn’t for me; I got up and walked out and never looked back.”
Mike has had a successful go with his butcher shop and harvests across the state, from the coast to the Columbia River; the Willamette valley over to Central Oregon. Because Mike has the opportunity to talk and make connections with producers across the state, he thought it would be a good fit to move into leadership with OCA that way he could spread the word about the work and policies of the association. Mike was elected at OCA’s general membership meeting at the annual convention last year and fills the shoes of his predecessor and neighbor Joe Steere.
Mike’s northwest district covers the most counties per district in the state: Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Hood River, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington, and Yamhill. Most cattle operations in this district are small and usually combined with crop production.
“One of my biggest concerns for my district is that good ag ground is being gobbled up by Portland,” said Mike, “ground is being subdivided or turned into ‘ranchettes’ and there’s not much left as far as new ranching opportunities go in this area.”
Another concern for Mike is the decrease in local butcher shops. “We have cattle here and there’s a demand for processing but throughout my career, I know of at least 37 butcher shops that have closed with an 80-mile radius of me,” he said. Mike believes more and more people have left the business because running a business is not the “easy” thing to do. He hopes the new state grant funding will bring more opportunities for processors across the state.
Mike is looking forward to being actively engaged in several committees, including the wolf committee.
“We have wolf sightings here, but it’s funny, it’s like the old tale ‘don’t cry wolf,’ people don’t want to believe you until it’s too late,” he said.
Other committee involvement for Mike includes the Marketing committee and Animal Health and Brand committee because he wants to see good utilization of the resources of the brand program across the state.
Mike’s goal for the next year has changed over the past few months. At first, he was determined to sign-up 100 new members in his first year as VP. Now he has reassessed that goal. “I realized out of 13 counties in my district, we only know of four active county associations, so I want to help counties become more active and start up core groups,” he said.
If you are a member in one of the counties in District VII, please reach out to Mike Alger at 503-510-7705. He would like to hear from you and work with you on starting up an association in your county.