STEVE Hunt is stepping down as chief executive officer and president of U.S. Premium Beef (USPB) at the end of January and will take an advisory role with the company, according to an announcement.
He will be succeeded by Stan Linville, the company's chief operating officer, the announcement said.
USPB chair Mark Gardiner, a cattle producer from Ashland, Kan., said Hunt's "visionary leadership" benefitted both USPB unit-holders and "the entire U.S. beef industry" in creating a marketing system that rewards cattle ranchers and feeders for focusing on quality.
Hunt has led USPB since it was established in 1996 as a cooperative of producers who bought shares, or units, in the organization.
USPB acquired a minority interest in Farmland National Beef Packing Co. (Feedstuffs, Aug. 3, 1997) and subsequently acquired Farmland National during the bankruptcy liquidation of Farmland Industries Inc. six years later (Feedstuffs, Aug. 11, 2003), reorganizing the company as National Beef Packing Co., which is the fourth-largest beef packer in the U.S.
USPB members sell cattle to National Beef on a grid-based marketing system that awards premiums for age and source verification and other quality measurements. A share of National Beef's profits also are returned to USPB members.
More than 1,400 feedlots in 14 states have marketed cattle to USPB since 1997, and in 2012, all USPB cattle averaged $55.66 per head in premiums over the cash market.
USPB sold a 78.95% share in National Beef to equity investor Leucadia National Corp. last year to allow unit-holders to unwind positions in and exit the cooperative (Feedstuffs, Jan. 30, 2012).