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Category Archives: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

The Evolution of Cattle Production: Why Consumers Can’t Have the iPhone 5, Sprawling Suburbs and the Pitchforked Farmer Too

BY AMINA BENNETT, Wife and Mother near Chicago, IL

Originally published Oct. 3, 2013: http://www.mommamina.com/2013/10/the-evolution-of-cattle-production-why.html 

The iPhone 5s was just released a few days ago, excited consumers across the nation eagerly waited hours (even overnight) for Apple stores to open in anticipation of getting their hands on the newest Apple technology. The iPhone 5s now boasts a larger screen, Touch ID, a faster operating system and enhanced camera features. Technology in communication is widely embraced, new inventions are encouraged, and consumers are eager to evolve with the changing times. That said, I think it’s safe to say that I would be an anomaly if I walked down the street with a vintage phone…

Hellooooooooooo

or a cell phone circa 1983…

Yup…they once looked like this!

So why is it that the same eagerness to evolve with the changing times, which is so apparent in the communications industry, not exhibited for the agricultural industry? In a recent visit to the Larson Farm, Farmer Mike Martz made mention that he felt as though society wanted him to “farm like how his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had farmed in years passed.” But with an increasing population, more urban sprawl (which leads to less farmland), and fewer farms to spread the labor (as future generations of farmers opt out of the family business), why are Americans unwilling to let farming evolve with the times?

While I haven’t got the answers to why some folks are so unyielding to the evolution of agriculture, I can only address the 5 fears that I once touted as the big WHY. And it goes a little something like this…

1. No Feedlots Please, I prefer my cattle roaming and grazing
As a Midwest city girl I always assumed that land outside of the city lights (and suburban sprawl) was sufficient enough to raise tons of cattle for grazing and roaming. But with the growing population and constant building outside of the city limits we’re encroaching upon farmland and animal habitats. Even coyotes have decided that since they can’t beat our burgeoning population that they’re going to join us here in the city. So when it comes to raising enough cattle to feed a large population, cattle feedlots are in response to the need for more livestock within a smaller farm area.

2. I don’t want my family consuming extra hormones; I’malready portly AND I want my kids to look like kids!
Sure, hormones are implanted into the ear of cattle to increase their size during their last few months of life, but according to the FDA, “all approved implant products have a zero day withdrawal. This means that the meat from the animal farm is safe for humans to eat at any time after the animal is treated.” In addition, the ears are discarded before the animal is slaughtered.

Furthermore, because I’m a believer in the power of statistical information, here’s a couple stats to give you some perspective on hormone use in cattle:

Organic Beef = 1.4 nanograms of estrogen hormone per 3 oz of meat
Conventional Beef = 1.9 nanograms of estrogen hormone per 3 oz of meat 
Potatoes = 225 nanograms of estrogen hormone (occurring naturally) per average sized potato
Birth Control Pills (at the lowest dose) = 20,000 nanograms per pill  

M&M visual of hormone dosages compliments of the Larson Farm
 Left to Right: Organic, Conventional, Baked Potato, Birth Control Pill

3. I don’t want to consume antibiotics when I’m not even sick!
Well, if you’ve followed my farming posts thus far, then you’ve got an idea on what I’ve learned about antibiotics. If you haven’t, check it out a here! But suffice it to say that at the Larson Farm, sick cattle are tagged, removed and then tested. The sick cattle are then kept 2 weeks later than when they are “technically” safe to sell as an added precaution. Antibiotics are not permitted on the meat market.

4. All feedlot farms (especially CAFO’s) are inhumane and mistreating their cattle 
Just a bit of clarification here. A feedlot is an area or building where livestock are fed or fattened up. A CAFO is a concentrated animal “production process that concentrates large numbers of animals in relatively small and confined spaces, and that substitutes structures and equipment (for feeding, temperature controls and manure management) for land and labor.” The Larson Farm is considered a CAFO (due to the number of cattle housed) and as a result, the farm undergoes a required certification every 3 years by the EPA.

While visiting the Larson Farm I didn’t witness any signs of animal abuse (no excessive mooing, cow bullying-yes it happens amongst cattle too, and no fear of people). I don’t believe anyone these days is naive to the mistreatment of animals in the farming industry, but what I can attest to is that not ALL farmers treat their animals cruelly. In fact, cruelty is not a matter of size or conventional versus organic. It’s a matter of the moral fiber of the farmer raising the animal. Which brings me to my next point…

5. I don’t want my food coming off of an assembly line!
Since when did being organized get a bad rap?!?! In fact, it’s when systems are not in place where all good intentions go to hell. Ever heard of Temple Grandin?

Temple Grandin is an autistic woman who transformed the livestock industry by inventing improvements to the animal handling systems found on ranches, farms and meat plants. She is most known for the center-track restraint system that is widely used across North America.

Cows enter and exit the center-track system here

 

Top of center-track system which prevents cows from backing up and flipping over one another
Gentle “Hug” which calms the cattle immediately so that the ultrasound tech can check marbling and fat levels
Her invention decreases and eliminates the fear and pain animals experience when they are being handled and eventually slaughtered. You see, the successful management of large numbers of animals requires advanced engineering and forethought to prevent falls, crippling injuries and untimely death. Kudos to Larson Farms for incorporating this ingenious system into their farming processes. By the way…it’s composed entirely of scrap metal!  
 
As our world continues to evolve, our food industry has to adapt alongside of it. In practical terms, with millions more people on the earth, the days of free roaming animals that eat off of the land, and farmers driving horse-drawn plows… are gone. With farmers being charged with feeding more than just their family and their town, and with less space to do it, farmers (although still good stewards of the land) are seeking efficient and effective ways to raise livestock and cultivate the land within the changing times. Everything must evolve, just as the iPhone 5s will soon give way to the iPhone 6… 
 
…it’s just a matter of time. 

Are you still envisioning the pitch-forked farmers of the past? Do you believe that the agricultural industry should evolve with the times?

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2014 National Beef Ambassador Program: It started with a shiny belt buckle

BY MADISON MARTIN, Tennessee 

Originally posted: http://madisonsfarmadventures.blogspot.com/2013/10/2014-national-beef-ambassador-program.html

1383294_10151618665596526_1802338134_nOne sunny day at a cattle auction in Georgia a woman approached a girl in a shiny buckle…the woman, Mrs. Callaway, asked the girl about her buckle.  I don’t know how but Mrs. Callaway felt or heard the girls passion through her words describing her life on the farm.  What Mrs. Callaway had up her sleeve next changed that girl’s life, forever.  OK maybe a tad much exaggeration.  That girl was me and I was at that sale looking for replacement cows with my Pop.  Mrs. Callaway thought I was worthy to know about this program called the National Beef Ambassador Program (NBAP) and she also told me that Tennessee didn’t have a program.  Duhh Duhh Duhh. I went home without any new cows but with information that could change the course of my life.
A side story, before I had heard about NBAP I wanted to work in the CIA. Now I wanted to be a Bovine geneticist/nutritionist/ some reproduction and an embryologist.  That’s a lot right!! Back to the story…..
Well, I pursued this program but not before I forgot our conversation many times.  I actually forgot and then finally remembered our conversation about a month before the contest!  Not having an official contest in my state I had to find someone in the beef community to write me a letter of recommendation. I choose Mrs. Houston a very influential cattlewoman in my area whom I look up to greatly.  She got the letter written, we sent off the registration, and BAM I was on my way to the Wooster, Ohio 2012 NBAP contest. Look at the NBAP page.  They do their contest with the next years date because that’s how the team will serve.  The Beef Ambassador contest has two divisions: senior and junior.  The junior division ages from 12-16, I was in that division. The seniors age from 17-21.  There were two parts of the contest I had to participate in: consumer demonstration and media interview.  I had the time of my life! That year we toured Certified Angus and Weaver Leather!!  I couldn’t believe that so many prominent members of the beef community were in attendance and it was an excellent trip. A big bonus for me were passionate friends I made for life.
Year 2012…September rolls around and my mom and I are talking about going again.  This year its in Sacramento, California.  That’s a long drive from Tennessee.  We decided to make it a family trip.  We visited every important site on I-40 from Tennessee to California.  Then we drove up the coast of California on the road that runs along the ocean to Sacremento for the contest.  We had five people crammed in a little rental  KIA.  We stopped along the way and saw all our family across the US.  When we finally arrived to Sacramento we were exhausted.  I couldn’t think about actually functioning let alone telling people about my farm.  Good thing it comes natural to me.  That year was probably the best. I knew the ropes and the people and what to look out for.
Year 2013…This years contest.  Tennessee finally got a contest! That made me super happy.  Long story short, I lost!  Now, I am glad I did though. It pushed me to be the best I could at this years contest in Springdale, Arkansas.  The home of one of my favorite cattlewomen! Geneice McCall, she is from a small town called Eureka Spring, Arkansas.  Anyways, the contest went on without a glitch.  I NOW thought this contest was the best!  I wonder if I can call them ALL the Best!   Why, yes, Yes I can! This is the third year I have gone and I tried with all my heart, soul, and mind to do the best I could do and make my mom and dad proud.  Before the awards ceremony I told my mom I didn’t care if  I placed because I knew I did the best I had done in a long time, I had fun with it all.  I made so many networking connections and I was proud of myself for what I had accomplished that weekend.
1379481_10151618665081526_1222568977_nThe awards ceremony…hmmm….I really can’t remember anything from it except I won consumer demonstration high individual! I then went on to receive second place. I was overjoyed. I was crying and shaking.  I thought all the juniors did fabulous. I didn’t think I could ever place but I did. You can watch some of the videoed contest here.

 

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Diary of a N. Ireland Girl

Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster member, Rachel Martin has just returned from her two month International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) to the U.S.A. The trip saw the Northern Irish farmer’s daughter leave Belfast on the 8th June and return on the 9th August traveling through a total of twelve states in a bid to learn about agriculture and culture in North America:

photo-25I was supposed to meet my first host the next day.  Sure, I had seen her photograph but there was still something daunting about the thought of meeting a stranger at a train station 6000 miles from home to go and live with them for three weeks.  The train was running late and I was worried about whether my host would even be there.  Besides, what if they were mean or creepy?  Counter to my worries Josie, my first host turned out to be very friendly and welcoming.  After all, she had volunteered to look after an international delegate and show them a little about her life and her work with 4-H in her county.

During my trip, I met and stayed with several families learning about life on their farms and ranches.   By staying with locals I quickly learned a lot about the USA, and not just the difference between chips, fries and crisps or the difficulties in ordering “proper tea” as opposed to iced tea.  But thanks to the in-depth learning experience provided by the exchange, I learned about family life, social faux pas, rocky mountain oysters – much more than a standard tourist could ever have discovered!

During my trip I have seen first-hand many of the agricultural challenges faced in the Western states.  In Northern Montana, I helped put out a hay field fire and just a few days later watched as hail tore up a year’s worth of hard work.  Unfortunately for the family, this was just part of farming in that area and something they had to be prepared for.  It made me reflect a lot on the challenges farmers face at home and that whilst my friends at home often grumble about the “bad weather” and seemingly endless rain, I soon discovered that as food producers our climate in Northern Ireland really isn’t the worst.

herding cattle

As part of her International Farm Youth exchange trip, Rachel helped herd cattle across McCartney Mountain in southwest Montana.

One of the most adrenalin inducing experiences of the trip was helping the Smith family to herd cattle across McCartney Mountain in south-west Montana.  As a girl who was never allowed a pony when she was younger because they “tramp up the fields” I found it interesting when many ranchers told me they find their horses to be more useful than their four wheelers.  Whilst in southwest Montana I also drove machinery for a few days to haul bales to the stack yard and enjoyed the work hard, play hard mentality on the ranch.  Along with my host siblings Jacob and Elizabeth I visited the Montana Folk Festival and got the drive in movie experience – something I loved and wish we had at home!

As part of the programme, I also met with 4-H children preparing their steers for the county fair as well as another group of children who were practising showing with their sheep and pigs.  I also was lucky enough to visit the State Fair in Great Falls and to go to different types of rodeos as well as seeing attractions such as Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, Virginia City, Crystal Park and Glacier National Park.

My trip started in New York where I spent a few days doing all the super touristy stuff before I jumped on a train and travelled to IFYE Orientation in Bloomington, Illinois to meet with other International delegates before I went on to stay with families for the rest of the trip.  I would like to thank all my host families, IFYE, 4-H and YFCU for facilitating the exchange and making it such a success.

The IFYE program is an in-depth learning experience in which 4-H alumni and other young adults live with host families in other countries to increase global awareness, develop independent study interests, and improve language skills. Programs vary from country to country, with some emphasizing an agricultural work experience, volunteering at an adult training centre, or working with a local youth development program such as 4-H or YFCU.  If you would like to read more about Rachel’s travels check out her blog http://www.youngfarmerinthestates.wordpress.com.

 

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What is ‘Sustainability’ on your Ranch?

BY SARA J. TROJAN, YPC Leadership Board

Spring 2009 076The concept of ‘sustainability’ in the beef industry has been on the forefront of many discussions, research objectives and advertising campaigns within the industry.  However, what is the true definition of ‘sustainability’?  Webster defines sustainable as “able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed.”  In taking that concept and applying it to a ranching scenario, it is evident that long-term ranches are a prime example of ‘sustainable production systems.’ Land that has been in long-term production for beef production has demonstrated resiliency and efficiency in natural resource utilization as resources have been protected to ensure the continuation of beef cattle production.

In determining what defines sustainability on a ranching operation, most would agree that the first assessment to be made is in understanding the natural resources available, and then figuring the best approach for upgrading and protection.  Approaches will, of course, differ vastly from operation to operation across regions.  In evaluating ‘sustainability’ on our ranch, one person asked me if my dad is a “grass guy” or a “cattleman”.  That question caught me a bit off-guard, but in reflecting on the question, I responded “quite honestly, he is a balance of the two.”  Growing-up I was able to learn the importance of both qualities in running a successful, sustainable ranching operation.  My dad has always been concerned about natural resource conservation efforts on our ranch, fencing riparian areas, improving utilization of water resources, and improving meadows for hay production and grazing are a few examples, as well as knowing which cows are the ‘most productive’ within resources available on the ranch.

In defining the most important natural resources on our operation, we are fortunate to have water resources and the ability to produce high-quality grasses and forages. To ensure the renewability of these resources on our operation, we have integrated irrigation systems and have worked at improving our hay meadows, primarily by improving the grass base with a farming schedule for reseeding grass/alfalfa mixtures.  Not only do these meadows serve as the primary source of hay production on the ranch, but also provide a significant grazing resource for ~90 days in the fall for weaned calves and in the spring for ~60 days for new pairs.  It is evident that these conservation practices have led to more sustainable production on our ranch, because without gaining any more acreage, we are running more cows than ever before.

Spring 2009 038Aside from natural resource management, cowherd management decisions also fall into optimizing ‘sustainability’ on the ranch.  Understanding the appropriate breed type, mature cow size and level of milk production to optimize reproductive efficiency, weaning weight and other traits of economic importance to match resources available are critical to this effort. Furthermore, the decisions that cow/calf producers make have a broader spanning impact than only on the ranch, commercial producers have a responsibility to the industry to produce calves that can grow and perform efficiently in other segments, for industry sustainability.

I believe that having a plan for ‘ranch sustainability’ is more important now and will gain increasing importance in future years as land resources for production become scarcer.  Making a conscious effort to devote time and careful planning to a ‘ranch sustainability plan’, may be critical for ensuring production in coming years.  It is important that this plan involves both aspects of natural resource protection and enhancing the cowherd to most effectively utilize available resources.  In thinking of our ranch and further improvements that I would like to make include a implementing a more efficient irrigation system to better capture and utilize water resources, incorporating more intensive rotational grazing into some aspects of production, continue making progress in genetic selection, and continuing to upgrade production of hay meadows.

 

 

 

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NCBA Accepting Applications for Spring and Summer Public Policy Internships

WASHINGTON (Sept. 13, 2013) — The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) government affairs office in Washington, D.C., is accepting applications for spring and summer 2014 public policy internships. The deadline to submit an application for these opportunities is Oct. 6, 2013.

Screen Shot 2012-09-18 at 9.05.14 AM“NCBA’s public policy internship gives college students a one-of-a-kind view into the policy making process in Washington, D.C., while helping them prepare to transition from college to career,” said NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts. “We are looking for college students with an interest in the beef industry, public policy and communications to help NCBA represent cattlemen and cattlewomen in Washington, D.C. The internship is designed to work closely with the lobbying team on Capitol Hill and assist with NCBA’s regulatory efforts.”


The full-time spring internship will begin Jan. 6, 2014, and end May 9, 2014. The full-time summer internship will begin May 19, 2014 and end Aug. 22, 2014. To apply, interested college juniors, seniors or graduate students should submit the application, a college transcript, two letters of recommendation and a resume to 
internship@beef.org. More information and the internship application are available on NCBA’s website.

“This isn’t a ‘check-the-box’ style of internship. NCBA’s public policy interns work alongside NCBA staff on critical issues ranging from agriculture policy to trade, the environment and more.” Butts said. “If you or someone you know is interested in this opportunity, we encourage you to apply.”

 

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Tweeting Tips from Mal the Beef Gal

There is so much to say and only 140 characters in which to say so on Twitter. How did Shakespeare put it? To Tweet or not to Tweet. That is the question. Or something very close to that, right? Today, I’d like to put a little pep in your step when it comes to Twitter so that we can continue to share our beef stories with consumers and our cattle community friends alike!

Malorie Bankhead 1My name is Malorie Bankhead, and I come to you over the blogosphere from California. I just recently graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a degree in Agricultural Communication in June, and I am also a past National Beef Ambassador. I first created my social media penname Mal the Beef Gal when I created my Twitter account in 2010 as a member of the National Beef Ambassador Team. One of our tasks as a National Beef Ambassador was to share the beef story over social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I had previous experience in Facebook and YouTube, but Twitter made me a little nervous. To ease the beginner’s pain for you, or to help you become more engaged in the Twitterverse, I have created checklist that will help you conquer Twitter one character, hashtag, and tweet at a time.

About a month ago I was given the opportunity to serve as an intern for the American National CattleWomen in Denver at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference. One of my duties at the conference was to facilitate the Advocacy/Your Beef Story workshop and lead the Twitter portion of the workshop. First, we learned various myth-busting facts to present to consumers with questions about how beef is raised and how healthy it is for us to eat from Dr. Jude Capper. I followed up with ways to relay the messages we learned and other great beef story tidbits on Twitter. Here are a few tips to getting started and keeping your Twitter profile fueled to share your beef story.

  1. If you are new to Twitter and want to join, follow the advice of a very popular shoe company:  Just do it! Visit www.twitter.com, enter your name, email, and newly created password, and click the yellow “Sign up for Twitter” button. Then follow the prompts Twitter will give you to set up your profile. You will be able to select a profile picture (it is very important not to skip this step so that fellow Tweeters can put a face to your name), choose several people to follow on Twitter (this means you will be able to view their Tweets. They have to follow you in order to see yours), set your privacy settings, and create your first tweet!
  2. Let’s define some Twitter vocab. Here is some popular jargon you may hear used for Twitter. Hopefully these will help you!

Twitter:  The name of the social media network which allows you to post 140 characters in your message.

Tweet:  The 140 character message you produce on Twitter.

Follow:  You may follow someone in order to receive their tweets in your live feed.

Follower:  Someone who follows you on Twitter and receives your tweets in their live feed.

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 11.28.49 AMHashtag:  A group of characters following the pound sign. Hashtags are a type of conversation markers. For example, if you include the #beef hashtag in one of your tweets, your tweet is grouped with all of the other tweets with #beef in them. Another example of a hashtag that is not necessarily a real word is #CISC13 which stands for Cattle Industry Summer Conference 2013. Sometimes conferences or other events come up with their own hashtag to group together all the tweets with the hashtag in them. You can enter any hashtag you want in the search bar of Twitter, and you will be directed to a feed of those hashtags.

Retweet:  You can retweet a tweet that someone has already posted. If you want your followers to be able to read the tweet, you can click the symbol that looks like two continuous arrows in a square underneath the tweet, and it will show up in your followers’ live feed.

Favorite:  You can click the star underneath a tweet to favorite it, which is the equivalent of liking a post on Facebook. Twitter will notify the author of the tweet that you favorited their tweet. It’s kind of like giving a thumbs up or your stamp of approval on a tweet.

Reply:  This is the arrow pointing left underneath the tweet, which will automatically tag the person who wrote the tweet you want to reply to. Twitter will also keep your tweets together in a conversation. You can click the talk bubble that says ‘view conversation’ to see your responses to each other.

Chats:  The cool thing about hashtags is that you can use them in Twitter chats. One kind of chat that I have participated in before is the #agchat. There is usually a host or a moderator to the chat who is responsible for tweeting the questions for the chat. Since it is so fast paced I use www.twubs.com to participate in the chat. This is a website that shows only the tweets with the chat hashtag in them and makes it easier to follow along and participate. Ag Chats are every Tuesday evening from 5-8 p.m. ET. Join in to see what it’s all about. You may choose just to view the chat your first time, but participating is highly encouraged!

3. If you want to share an article or a link you have found in a tweet, the normal URL will take up too many of your 140 character space. I utilize www.tinyurl.com to fix this problem. You can copy and paste the long URL into the box that says “make tinyURL”, and it will create a shorter link for you that you can copy and paste into your tweet to save room. You can find great links to share your beef story on www.factsaboutbeef.com and www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com.

And before it gets too confusing, I’ll pause for now. The point of this post is to intrigue you, not to overwhelm you, so I hope I have provided some sort of inspiration to you to jump into Twitter with both feet! For more encouragement I will share with you my Twitter secret: it took me nearly a year and a half to become a regular Twitter user. But when I made the commitment to share my beef story on Twitter the motto “practice makes perfect” helped a lot! I first made a plan to tweet three times a week, and then gradually increased my tweeting to multiple times a day. Now I’m a Twitter regular, and you can be too!

So, how can you put your new Twitter knowledge to good use? Dive in, and try it out! The best way to learn, I find, is to explore. Get comfortable with Twitter by clicking on new tabs and seeing what is available to you. What questions do you have about Twitter? Please leave them in the comments section of this blog!

Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter, if you’d like, @malthebeefgal. See you in the Twitterverse!

Sin-steer-ly,

Mal the Beef Gal

 

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Kentucky Young Producer Spotlight: SaraVard & Matthew Von Gruenigen

Originally posted on Kentucky Cattlemen’s Young Producers’ Council blog

SaraVard and Matthew on their farm in Garrard County.

SaraVard and Matthew on their farm in Garrard County.

This month’s farm family in the Young Producer spot light is the Von Gruenigen’s.  They run a beef cattle operation in Garrard County consisting of around 90 momma cows and when the market is right they purchase fall feeders. They do commercial cows and influence their herd with whatever pure bred bull will provide the desired genetic improvements. They also put up all their own hay.

Both SaraVard and Matthew also work full time jobs, Matthew at Sherman Williams in Richmond and SaraVard at Ag Credit in Stanford. SaraVard and loves her job and the company and the opportunities that they are able to provide for their customers.

She developed an interest in farming as a child when her grandfather farmed but when he passed away when she was in the 8th grade, the farming operation came to a halt. When she got into high school, she still had a yearning to be involved in agriculture and it was then that she decided to major in the field. She received her undergrad from EKU with a major in Agriculture and a minor in Business and during the end of her schooling, interned for the Kentucky Beef Council.

As I had also interned for the Beef Council, we talked and talked about how life changing the experience was! “My internship opened so many doors for me and I’m forever indebted to all the people at KCA for that opportunity. I made contacts and gained knowledge and experience that I never would have if it weren’t for my internship! It was an invaluable experience that taught me about beef from a consumer standpoint and I am to this day a huge beef advocate! I learned where our check off dollar was going and can honestly say it’s totally worth it. I still have friends and family calling me for beef tips and recipes and Matthew really appreciates all the cooking tips I gained from the experience,” laughs SaraVard.

SaraVard helps on the farm as much as possible and runs the books for the operation. Matthew is more of the farm manager and the day to day care taker. SaraVard calls him the ‘brunt of the farming operation’. He’s been farming with his uncle since “his foot could reach a tractor clutch” and farming has been his passion since that time. His experience speaks for the influence that an experienced farmer can have on a young farmer. “I’m so thankful for all the help I’ve had from my family and my experienced cattle friends! I would never be where I am without them. They’ve done everything from give me advice on the phone to coming out to my farm when I have a sick calf!” He went on to explain that he wished farmers could understand how helpful their advice is to a new farmer and hopes this can inspire more farmers to reach out to farmers who are getting on their feet.

Both SaraVard and Matthew are also excited to network with a group of successful young farmers who can relate more with the struggles of starting out in this generation. “Farming is different now than it used to be,” says Matthew, “these are people who can help us figure out how to overcome the obstacles of farming today, because it’s different than it was even 5 years ago. There’s a lot you can learn through education but there’s a lot you just have to get out there and figure out the hard way. If we can share those things with each other, our jobs will be a whole lot easier.”

SaraVard and Matthew are really working hard to have a successful farming operation and are hoping that the newest addition of their family will carry on the tradition. That’s right! They are expecting a baby boy on Halloween of this year and his name will be ‘Ken Tuck’.

“I’m happy to have a child in a farming environment. There’s so much they can gain from it: work ethic, life skills, family traditions, pride in what your family has done for so many generations and just knowing that you can continue what they’ve started- being a good steward of the land,” says SaraVard.

Feature written by Sara Neumeister

 

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