By Melinda Perkins, TCA Intern
Today’s “Meet the Future Monday” is no stranger to the Tennessee cattle industry whether it be from the show ring, leadership roles in the industry, or representing our state at national cattle events. Madison Martin plays a vital role in advancing not only her operation, Volunteer Simmentals in Monroe County but also the cattle industry…all while maintaining her school work and time on the University of Tennessee Livestock Judging Team. The future is in good hands with producers like Madison.
Describe your operation.
Our operation is formally known as Volunteer Simmentals. We are based in Southeast Tennessee and primarily run a Simmental seedstock operation. In recent years, my goal has been to incorporate progressive genetics using the ChiAngus and Maintainer breeds to raise high-quality show stock for juniors nationwide.
What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?
Growing up on a farm definitely has its advantages and disadvantages. However, one thing I have enjoyed most about growing up on the farm is getting to spend time with my family, and specifically, having the opportunity to farm with my grandfather. Something farm kids know well is how wise our elders are and we get the unique experience to learn and grow alongside them.
Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?
My biggest role model would have to be my late grandfather. Pop made sure we upheld a strict code of conduct whether it be how we handled ourselves ringside or the type of cattle we strived to exhibit. More than that, he made sure we loved this way of life. I can whole-heartedly say that I love this way of life because of my grandfather. I am actually the only grandkid to have remained within the beef cattle industry.
What are you most passionate about in your business?
I am fortunate to be able to do something I love each and every day but I am even more fortunate to be able to try MY ideas on the farm. Like I mentioned earlier, we strive to run a progressive operation where we experiment with different feeds and genetic combinations. I think it is awesome that whenever I have an idea to take our operation to the next level, my dad never hesitates to let me implement it.
What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?
One of the biggest challenges we have been facing is consumer perception, and, with the way our society is changing, we as young farmers need to tackle this head-on. But more than that, new, younger farmers are a dying breed. We need to advocate for our way of life so that we can keep it alive and encourage others to join us! (And I know that is a hard concept for many people of the farming community to accept)
Where do you see yourself and your operation in 10 years?
In ten years, I hope to have grown my operation into twice the size that it is now. I also hope to have a law degree within ten years.
How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?
Progressive is a common term in our operation. We are always trying something new to improve our efficiency. We implement many conservation practices so that my family, three or four generations from now, can follow in my footsteps.
How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?
The farmers of Tennessee have given me so many opportunities. One goal of mine is to give back to them whether it be by defending our agriculture way of life in Tennessee as a lawyer, helping young exhibitors with their show cattle projects, or helping other young farmers get there start in this business. I intend to do this by staying active in agriculture organizations and the Tennessee beef industry for as long as the Lord sees fit.
What could the existing farmers do most to help future farmers such as yourself?
One thing I benefit from most is watching! I get weird looks when I volunteer to help neighboring farmers work but I have learned more about (life) surviving in this business by offering free labor or sitting at the local stockyard talking to producers with a lifetime of experience than I will ever learn in a classroom.
What is your favorite beef dish?
I am a steak and potatoes girl—if I am feeling fancy sweet potatoes and a ribeye!