A New Role for Crystal Cattle

27 Aug
We’ve all seen Crystal Young’s (now Crystal Blin) great communications work with the American Angus Association, but now that she has settled into her new life on an Iowa cattle operation with her husband, we wanted to check in to see how life has changed for her….
How did your position with American Angus Association change how you view America’s cattle producers?
The membership of the American Angus Association is extremely diverse. From those that have 1,000+ head ranches to those farmers that raise 10 cows on the side. I loved learning about their stories and helping them reach their goals.
After completing your time with AAA, you are now on an Iowa cattle farm with your husband. Tell us what that’s like.  
I love being able to work in both a corporate setting, and still have time on the farm. JJB Cattle Co. has a small (but rapidly growing) herd of 25 purebred Hereford cattle. We use both embryo transfer and A.I. We market the majority of our cattle privately and offer a select group of show heifers for sale each year. We also have a growing freezer beef business that we are very excited about. It allows us to speak directly to the consumer. Jon and I farm approximately 60 acres of land that was put into corn this year. However, the droughty greatly affected us, and most of the acreage was turned into silage.
Has anything happened so far that you weren’t expecting by working for JJB Cattle Co.?
Being a young married couple that is trying to make a go at farmer there are always lots of things that come up. I have a lot of experience in the cattle business, but crops are new to me. When I saw the check for corn seed I almost fell over, however there is a big return.
What is it like to be able to work with your husband and raise cattle? It is the best possible lifestyle there is. I love to travel for work, but there is really nothing better than being in the pasture looking at your cows. It is also fun to work along someone that challenges you and understands your passion.
How has the transition been from work life to farm life?
Since, my life contains a bit of both there are many days that I end up at the farm in my heels and dress clothes. However, I love that there are two sides to my life. I love that I have hands on experience on the farm, and using our products. It makes relating to my Sure Champ customers a lot easier.
Do you have any advice for young people getting into the cattle business or who might already be involved? I think you have to find you niche. Jon and I realized early one that there are not a lot of cattle in eastern Iowa so selling bulls would be difficult. Therefore, we decided to only keep one or two bulls a year and focus on our freezer beef program, which is rapidly taking off. Also, use the resources that you have available to you. Jon and I both love social media and have networked with many of our customers through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and our blog –
Do you have any advice for young people who would like to get involved in agriculture communications?
There is only so much you can learn in the classroom about agriculture communications. Internships are critical. Find opportunities that you can network with industry professional. There are several college students that I work with because they reached out and asked for help. I love watching them succeed and take on new opportunities.
Have you learned anything new about cattle since beginning life in Iowa?
Maybe not about cattle, but a lot about corn. And so maybe more about how the two industries work together. While I was in college in Kansas I learned how lots of people grazed stocks. However, that doesn’t happen out in eastern Iowa. 1. there are no fences for cattle, and 2. many famers are worried about compaction. It is interesting to learn about the diversity in ideas across the county.
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