Chairman, Dallas, Texas
Clark Willingham, who was reared in Dallas, was not born into agriculture, but chose to get involved. He attended Texas Tech and earned an accounting degree and while at SMU earning his law degrees he met the girl of his dreams, whose family had ranched in the Oklahoma Panhandle since homesteading in 1884. By taking part in their operation, Clark discovered his business skills, including tax and estate planning, had a place in the ag industry – and the ag industry had a place in his life.
“I determined that one of the best ways I could serve the livestock industry was through association work,” Clark said. “I’ve been privileged to travel the nation and the world representing America’s real cowboys, working to ensure that ranchers could continue doing what they love to do.” A partial list of his industry service includes serving as president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, president of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association and president of the Texas Beef Council. He was also active on the National Livestock Meat Board, the U.S. Meat Export Federation and still serves as a Trustee of the National Cattleman’s Foundation.
During a town hall meeting in Colorado in 1997, Clark encountered the land trust that would serve as one of the templates for TALT.
“As an estate planner, I’d known about conservation easements for a long time, but none of my agriculture clients were interested in exploring the option because there wasn’t a conservation easement organization who understood the lifestyle and value of agricultural production,” Clark said. “Colorado Cattleman’s Agricultural Land Trust, which kept agriculture production front and center, was the first time that I saw a model that would appeal to ranchers and farmers.” He brought the knowledge back to Texas and shared it with the leadership of several agriculture organizations.
“While I certainly can’t take credit for TALT, I like to think that I helped plant some of the early seeds,” Clark said. “Today, thanks to TALT’s ag-centered focus, ranchers and farmers have a viable alternative for keeping their land in ag production in perpetuity.”