Texas Tech University

National Block & Bridle Convention Speakers

Donnell Brown, RA Brown Ranch - Welcome and Keynote Address

Donnell Brown and his wife Kelli are the fifth generation to own and manage the R.A. Brown Ranch, a family business since 1895, in Throckmorton, Texas. They raise registered Angus, Red Angus and SimAngus cattle and sell 600 bulls each October.

The ranch's primary goal is to improve the profitability and sustainability of their commercial customers. The R.A. Brown Ranch has been honored with the NCBA Cattle Business of the Century Award as well as being named BIF Seedstock Producer of the Year.

Donnell Brown

The strength of their program is shown by the high percentage of repeat commercial bull customers, as well as by having more than 25 bulls in major AI studs. They use AI and embryo transfer extensively to mass multiply superior genetics that fit the needs of the commercial industry. Their trademark is in their unique bull development system that tests their bulls for performance, efficiency and carcass superiority while developing them for longevity with the use of high forage diets on the rocky hills of West Texas.

Donnell is a graduate of Texas Tech University. Prior to that, he served as President of the Texas FFA & as the National FFA President. He has served in a Strategic Planning capacity for four different breed associations as well as the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Donnell's wife Kelli served as the National FFA President in 1988 and President of the Red Angus Association of America in 2009 & 2010.

They are blessed with 2 teenage sons: Tucker, and Lanham. Together they are living their dream of raising cows, kids and Quarter Horses.

Mike Simpson, Elanco Animal Health - "Enough"

Mike Simpson lives in Lubbock and works as the Strategic Account Manager for Elanco Animal Health. Simpson has a strong background with agriculture. He was raised in West Texas and worked with his family at their farming and cattle operation. He then chose to attend Texas Tech University, where he received his bachelor's degree in animal science. Simpson's wife is also a Texas Tech Alumni, and they now have two daughters.

While Simpson has been with his wife for 30 years, he holds a longer relationship with Elanco. During his 39 years of employment Simpson has held numerous sales and marketing positions within different units of the company. Currently he holds the title of Strategic Account Manager, and he is also certified in six training programs that he conducts with Elanco employees and customers. Simpson said that his time with Elanco is divided. He spends about 30 percent of it training globally for the company and 70 percent working with two corporate cattle accounts.

Kristina Butts,  NCBA - Advocating for Agriculture

Kristina is the Executive Director of Legislative Affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA). She is originally from Pearland, Texas, and grew up involved in her family's registered Black Angus cattle operation. She is a former Texas and National Beef Ambassador. Kristina has her undergraduate degree in Agricultural Communications with an Animal Science minor and her Master's of Science in Animal and Food Sciences with a food safety emphasis from Texas Tech University. Her graduate research project, Validation of Antimicrobial Treatments in Reducing Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. on Beef Trim and in Ground Beef, was funded by The Beef Checkoff and published in the Journal of Food Protection.

Kristina Butts

In 2004 Kristina joined the Washington, DC staff of U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith, Texas-21. In September 2008 she joined the policy team of the NCBA. Kristina leads NCBA's lobbying activities and lobbies Congress on a variety of issues including food safety, nutrition, energy, animal welfare and animal health issues on behalf of cattle producers. She also works closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration on food safety and nutrition issues important to cattle producers.

Dr. Mark Miller, Texas Tech University - Meat Science and Food Safety (Break OUT Session)

Markus F. Miller is the San Antonio Livestock Show Distinguished Chair in Meat Science and Horn Professor at Texas Tech University, where he is involved in research with collaborators at USDA, Cargill, Tyson, Intervet, Nebraska Beef, and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. He has been instrumental in helping develop consumer thresholds for beef and holds two patents for processes that improve beef tenderness and muscle color with electrical stimulation.

Mark Miller

Miller was one of the first to investigate many food safety interventions to reduce the level of pathogens in meat products. Some include organic acids, preharvest dust control, the use of systems interventions in the harvest process and training programs for both U.S. and international meat companies. He developed a research program that first discovered the use of vacuum packaging for pork and the use of beneficial microorganisms to inhibit the pathogen growth on meat. He is passionate about meat judging and has coached numerous winning teams to seven national championships. He earned undergraduate and masters degrees from Texas Tech and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.

Mr. Mark McCully, Certified Angus Beef - Cattle (Break Out Session)

Mark McCully, vice president of production for Certified Angus Beef LLC, leads the company's efforts to ensure long-term supply of Certified Angus Beef ® brand products. In this role, he oversees strategies for working with cattlemen and increasing the number of Angus-influenced cattle that qualify for the brand. He also has responsibility for the Packing Division. Through these efforts, the brand annually supplies consumers worldwide with nearly 900 million pounds of Certified Angus Beef ® brand products.

Mark McCully

McCully joined the company in October 2000 as the director of packing. In June 2002, he helped develop and then coordinate a regional sales team to serve retail, foodservice and international business partners. In March 2005, he transitioned to supply development.

Before these endeavors, he was the manager of sales and market development for Southern States Cooperative in Richmond, Virginia. He earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural science from Western Illinois University, summa cum laude and conducted a Master of Science program in ruminant nutrition at Michigan State University. While at MSU, Mark taught livestock evaluation and coached the intercollegiate livestock judging team. McCully continues to be involved in livestock judging and has judged over 300 cattle shows in over 30 states, Canada, and Brazil.

Mark and his wife, Gerry, reside in Wooster, Ohio, with their two children.

Mr. Brandon Gunn, Texas Pork Producers Association - SWINE (Break Out Session)

Brandon Gunn is the current Executive Vice President of the Texas Pork Producers Association (TPPA), headquartered in Austin, Texas. After receiving his associate's degree from Connors State College in Oklahoma, Brandon finished at Texas A&M University where he received his bachelor's in animal science in 2005. He was a member of the highly successful livestock judging team at both schools, concluding as part of the TAMU National Championship team in 2004. Before joining TPPA, Brandon was an instructor in the Agriculture Department at Connors State and coached the competitive livestock judging team.

Brandon Gunn

As the TPPA state executive, Brandon's responsibilities range from staff management to the planning and implementation of policies, programs and budget, which are developed in working closely with the TPPA Board of Directors. He represents and serves as a spokesperson for the association with state and federal legislatures, government agencies, allied industry, and educational institutions to carry out the association's objectives. Brandon represents TPPA as part of state and national organizations such as National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council, and the Texas Ag Council.

As a product of the Texas youth livestock programs, Brandon is excited to be back in the Lone Star State and have the opportunity to promote breeder and youth involvement in the pork industry.

Mr. Norman Kohls, Sheep & Goat Producer - Sheep and Goat (Break Out Session)

Norman C. Kohls has spent his life immersed in the agriculture industry, progressing the industry and its youth, in his role as a professional livestock and agricultural specialist.

Norman, along with his wife, Kathy, owns and manages, N & K Ranches Inc. located in Eldorado, Texas. There they manage and improve range for goats, sheep, cattle and wildlife, produce and market high quality livestock and implement the most current and effective animal husbandry practices.

Norman first made an impact in the animal agriculture industry when he acquired and introduced the South African Boer Goat in the United States. Following this introduction, he played a vital role in creating and organizing the first registry for the American Boer Goat Association. As a result of his commitment, the breed has significantly changed the American meat goat industry.

Norman served as a Texas Agricultural Extension Agent for 22 years. During this time he worked diligently in the Guadalupe, Gonzales and Glasscock counties, where he led the development of programs, establishing and reaching goals, and promoting the agriculture industry to the public about animal agriculture crops. In 2013, Norman worked as a consultant for the Farmers to Farmers program, in the Ukraine, where he shared his vast knowledge, educating farmers on sound agriculture practices.

Throughout his career, Norman's dedication to agriculture has been honored through numerous awards. He has received the TAEX Distinguished and Superior Service Plaque, Texas Swine Breeders Outstanding Agent Award, Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Outstanding Agent Award and National Pedigreed Association Outstanding Producer Award. Norman is also a lifetime member of the Texas Wildlife Association and American Paint Horse Association.

Even before his influential professional career, Norman was successful during his collegiate career. He graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor Science in Animal Science from Texas A&M University, in College Station, Texas. During his college career, Norman was a member of the National Champion Wool and Mohair Team and National Champion Meat Judging Team.

Animal & Food Sciences