The chief executive officer (CEO) and executive vice president of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) is stepping aside after 31 years in the position. Dee Likes will assume the title of KLA Chief Executive Emeritus December 31, 2014, and will remain employed by KLA in an advisory role to work on future initiatives.

Likes joined the KLA staff in 1976 after working as a CattleFax analyst serving Kansas cattle producers. In January 1984, he was named CEO of the 5,500-member trade association.

During his tenure with the association, Likes has positioned KLA as one of the most respected lobbying organizations in Kansas. Key state legislative victories under his leadership include the adoption of use-value appraisal for calculating property taxes on ag land; the exemption of farm machinery, replacement parts and labor from sales tax; and the removal of farm machinery and livestock from the property tax rolls. Additionally, he was instrumental in successfully lobbying to protect ag corporations and feeding companies during a major legislative overhaul of the Kansas corporate farming statutes in the early 1980s.

“Dee has spent an entire career protecting the interests of Kansas livestock producers,” said KLA President Jeff Sternberger, a cattle feeder from Garden City. “His passion, energy and foresight have served several generations of KLA members well.”

Likes’ influence extends to the national level, where his experience was key in facilitating major initiatives with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). As the current senior NCBA affiliate organization CEO, he played a part in helping create the national $1.00-per-head beef checkoff in 1985 and worked behind the scenes during the 1996 merger between the National Cattlemen’s Association and the Beef Industry Council of the National Live Stock and Meat Board. The merger was the beginning of NCBA, an organization that has helped unify the beef industry and move it forward. Later in his career, he helped spearhead efforts to defend producers from overreaching regulation by defeating state and federal legislative and regulatory proposals to impose government restrictions on cattle marketing and beef business models.

Sternberger said a search is underway to find a suitable candidate to fill the KLA CEO position. He encouraged interested individuals to send resumes to jobsearch@kla.org before September 5. The job description is available by emailing the same address.

KLA is a trade organization representing the state’s livestock business on legislative, regulatory and industry issues at both the state and federal levels. The association’s work is funded through voluntary dues dollars paid by its members.