F. Scott Fitzgerald, that great American novelist, wrote, “There are no second acts in American life." He was wrong. Max Bozeman served on the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB) from 2008 through 2010 before taking some time off. He's been invited back, re-appointed to a real life second act by Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack.
I asked what he did while serving his first term. "What did I do?" He replied, "Why, I promoted beef!"
He explained his earlier tour of duty, saying, "I worked on a couple of committees, but I've always been involved in this business.
"Today I'm on the taste committee," he continued, "and I've been appointed to represent the CBB with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance."
Bozeman lives about 6 miles west of Elba, Ala., 90 minutes south of Montgomery and an area that's been a home base for several generations of his family. "I'm the third generation farmer as far as I know," he said. “I don't know what my great-granddad did. I could be the fourth. My granddad farmed and did some public works. My daddy bought land here about 70 years ago and that's where I grew up. We still have that property."
How much land? Quite a bit by southern U.S. standards. "I own a few properties around here, about 600 or 700 acres. I rent another 800 acres. I have a bad habit…if somebody in the area wants to sell some land, I'll probably buy it."
Asked about another generation of Bozemans who might follow him, he said, "I have a son, Charles, who is moving back home - he's in the horticulture landscape business. I have an older son, Steven, who's a loan officer with Alabama Agricultural Credit. He helps me out and he has a little land, too.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Troy State University in 1975, and bought some land in Coffee County where he got started in farming in 1976 by growing cotton and peanuts. He bought his first cows three years later and gradually increased his herd until 1989 when he had about 700 cows. "That's when I stopped growing cotton and peanuts and just went with cows," he said.
"Right now, I run a cow-calf operation with some stockers. I breed a few heifers, too. My herd has been as high as 700-800 but I'm down to about 80 cows, 100 heifers, maybe 160 stockers. I'm supposed to add another 140 this week. I might get back up near where I was but I'll have to get some fences mended and get some rain before I’ll build up some. I might get back to a couple hundred momma cows."
The subject of retirement came up and was quickly dismissed. "You can't make enough money in this business to retire, you just have to work until you can't anymore. I'm not planning on retirement, but I might cut back, slow down a bit."
Like every member of the CBB, he has a long history of industry service. He's was a longtime director, having served as president of the Coffee County Cattlemen’s Association. He was a member of the Alabama Farmers Federation's state beef committee and was chairman of the Coffee County bull sale committee and a member of the county 4-H extension council.
"I started my second term with the CBB during last year’s July meeting," he said. He's now entering his second year of his second term as a skilled and experienced member of the CBB.