Ross Wilson, president of Texas Cattle Feeders Association, was honored with the Texas A&M AgriLife Distinguished Texan in Agriculture Award Dec. 1.

“As president and CEO of Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Ross is a visionary leader who actively takes advantage of opportunities to not only expand the membership and services of the association, but also improve the fed cattle industry and the general state of all Texas agriculture,” said Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences with the Texas A&M University System.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Distinguished Texan in Agriculture Award was established in 1993 to recognize the efforts of individuals who have gained unique distinction for their outstanding leadership and achievements on behalf of the Texas agricultural industry, the state and beyond.

Wilson has been with Texas Cattle Feeders Association since 1985, serving 13 years as government affairs director, eight years as vice president and the past five years as president. Prior to that, he served as a legislative assistant to former U.S. Rep. Jack Hightower of Texas.

The association represents more than 200 cattle feedyards in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, and 4,500 feeder members in several states producing almost 30 percent of the nation’s fed beef supply.

“Trained initially as an agricultural economist, Ross is keenly aware that if agriculture struggles, Texas will struggle,” Hussey said. “Therefore, he has done everything in his power to create an environment where agriculture can flourish. He has been involved at the state and federal level in nearly every issue important to agriculture: environment, estate taxes, trade policy, renewable fuels and just about everything in between.”

In addition, Wilson has successfully garnered support and funding for research programs in agriculture, and has served on several search committees for Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service leadership, Hussey said.

“Mr. Ross Wilson’s influence has benefited producers and consumers alike in the fed cattle industry and beyond, to make Texas a better place in which to live and conduct business,” he said. “So for his skill and tenacity in fighting for Texas agriculture, we are pleased to present him the Distinguished Texan in Agriculture Award.”

In accepting the award, Wilson said it was “undeserved but deeply appreciated. Anything I have accomplished in my career has been because of partnerships with other groups, whether it be the leadership and staff at Texas Cattle Feeders Association, the leadership and scientists within the Texas A&M System, West Texas A&M University and other universities, our elected leaders and many others.

“I have been fortunate to work with a lot of talented and dedicated people in the Texas A&M System, which has provided the scientific and educational basis for the cattle feeding industry to flourish in the Southern Great Plains,” Wilson said. “I look forward to many more years of productive partnerships. I am truly humbled and honored to receive this award.”

Wilson joins 21 other individuals who have been named “Distinguished Texans,” including retired state Rep. David Swinford, humanitarian and Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, ranchers Mary Nan West and Tobin and John Armstrong, former Gov. Dolph Briscoe, poultry magnate Bo Pilgrim, longtime Texas Farm Bureau leader S.M. True, and Ed and Howard Kruse of Blue Bell Creameries.

Wilson has chaired and served on several national cattle industry projects, is a member of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association executive committee, has served as chair of the Texas Agricultural Council, the agricultural advisory committee to the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission and as a member of the Natural Resources Committee to the American Bar Association.

He is also a member of the advisory council for the Consortium for Research, Extension and Education Team in the Panhandle and serves on the board of International Stockmen’s Education Foundation.

In 2006, Wilson received the Gerald W. Thomas Outstanding Agriculturist Award from Texas Tech University. He was also recognized by Texas Tech in 2001 with the Distinguished Alumni of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, and in 2008 by West Texas A&M University with the WTAMU First Choice Award for Support.