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C.W. (Bill) McMillan, a long-time lobbyist and consultant for the U.S. beef cattle industry and briefly an Agriculture Department assistant secretary, died Wednesday of heart failure. He was 95.
He left a significant legacy on legislation and policy affecting the meat industry in the United States and internationally.
Following U.S. Navy service in China and the Pacific, McMillan graduated from Colorado State University in 1948 and became a county agricultural extension agent in La Jara and Julesburg, Colorado. He also worked in the office of the dean of students at Colorado State. He became a division head in the Swift & Co. agricultural research department in Chicago in 1954.
McMillan joined what then was known as the American National Cattlemen’s Association in Denver in 1959, serving as its executive vice president for 11 years and opened its Washington office in 1970. He became vice president for Washington affairs when the ANCA merged with the National Livestock Feeders Association to become the National Cattlemen’s Association (NCA) in 1977. The group now is known as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
McMillan was a key player in enactment of the Meat Import Act of 1964 and subsequent amendments which helped regulate imports of competing beef and cattle. He also had a hand in negotiations leading to the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967, which brought important structural changes to meat processing in the United States and abroad.
During the 1970s, he was credited with helping shape creation of the Four-Nation Beef Group (the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand); Mexico was added later to form the Five-Nation Beef group, which still meets annually to address key industry and trade issues. He and the late former Secretary of Agriculture Richard E. Lyng were cofounders of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, which has become an influential force in world meat trade.
Former President Ronald Reagan nominated McMillan to be USDA’s assistant secretary for marketing and transportation services in January 1981. He resigned four years later to create a consulting service, largely specializing in food safety, animal and plant health and international trade in meat and poultry. He was inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame in November 2016.
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