Meet the Future Monday: Andrew Pryor of Walland, Tennessee

By Justin Young, TCA Intern

This is the first edition of a new (limited) segment that TCA will be doing on Mondays, called “Meet the Future Monday.” Like “Farm Feature Friday,” we will be highlighting some of Tennessee’s finest producers, but instead, this will be geared toward the up-and coming-generation of farmers. This segment shows that even though farming is tough, hard to enter, and sometimes hard to thrive, there are still young folks out there that are, not only farming but also succeeding at it. TCA is proud to highlight these young farmers in their endeavors.

The first “Meet the Future Monday” feature, is Andrew and Hope Pryor, a newly-wed couple from Walland, Tn. The couple are students at Middle Tennessee State University and will graduate in May. Andrew is a multi-generational farmer who is following in the footsteps of his dad, grandad, and great-grandad. Andrew is a very accomplished student, who has earned a 3.9 GPA, and is very active on MTSU’s dairy/creamery operation when he is not visiting home in East Tennessee. Anyone that has even met Andrew, knows that he is a solid person to the core. He serves as a great example for others pursuing a career in agriculture, even for those his own age. He believes in hard work, Christian values, and a strong family. Have a look and get to know Andrew Pryor!

andrew pryor3Q: How long has your family been farming?

A: My family was blessed with farming on both sides.  My grandmother’s side (McKenry) has been farming since 1843 on our century farm in Walland, TN. The original farm was 166 acres and eventually diversified to milk 155 cows, produce vegetables, tobacco, chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, beef cattle, corn, hay and raised horses. My grandfather’s side (Pryor), began in 1834 and farmed dairy and beef cattle, corn, hay, as well as tobacco. The Pryor family mostly farmed part-time throughout past few generations. Today, my family owns a portion of both farms and focuses on beef cattle production.

Q: What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?

A: For me, learning responsibility at such a young age has been irreplaceable.  I can remember bottle feeding calves, splitting wood, picking green beans, and stacking square bales when I was very young.  This helped develop my work ethic at an early age.

Q: Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?

A: My great-grandfather Robert (Bob) McKenry. He took over our operation in 1951 and had a strong passion for agriculture and the family farm, like myself; we are alike in numerous ways, one being that we believe no other place on earth compares to the family farm.

andrew pryor2Q: Describe your operation. 

A: Today, me, my Grandad, and Dad all farm 240 acres part-time.  We focus on cow-calf production with both freezer beef and registered herd segments.  Our freezer beef business is growing with about 15-20% of our calf crop being marketed directly to consumers for meat.  I have also begun Artificial Inseminating my herd to incorporate top genetics in the Angus breed.  I hope to grow my registered herd and market quality replacement heifers and herd bulls to local producers looking to upgrade their genetics.

Q: What are you most passionate about in your business?

A: I am very passionate and take a lot of pride in our family history on the farm. I am very fortunate to come from a family that instilled in me a strong work ethic, responsibility, and Christian values.  This is something I hope to continue with my wife and our family on the farm.

Q: What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?

A: There are many entry barriers for young farmers in today’s market.  I personally have had a great asset in having the family equipment to harvest my forages.  This helped me get started with smaller amount of start-up cost.  I leased land to start my cattle operation because that is the only feasible way to begin without inheriting land immediately. To me, those are the biggest barriers for young farmers wanting to get started in the cattle business. I grew produce for 5 years before I segmented into cattle, to make it financially possible.  A young farmer must have the mindset that they are going to farm and be successful at it, no matter what obstacles may come their way!

andrew pryor4Q: Where do you see yourself and your operation in 10 years?

A: In 10 years, I hope to have every commercial calf produced on our farm marketed directly to a consumer as meat.  This business has been great for my family because we see our product from the start to finish.  We select for our genetics and consume our own beef. This allows you to see what genetic selections yield the highest quality product.  Agriculture is always attempting to create a strong public perception. A family farm that sells directly to a consumer can produce a product in a way the public is proud of, and consumers can see this first hand.  We are proud to be open and transparent with the public about how we produce our meat. I also hope to grow my registered herd and market them to local producers. I hope to achieve this by continually upgrading genetics through Artificial Insemination with top sires in the industry.

Q: How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?

A: I will continue to improve and grow in several ways. I will make the customer my priority, and make sure they receive top quality products with satisfaction. I will also use my education and future training. I am BQA and Advanced Master Beef certified, and will also receive my bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness in May. I hope to use these experiences to become more profitable, which will provide the ability to grow in the future.

andrew-pryor1.jpgQ: How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?

A: I hope to leave my footprint on the Tennessee beef industry by proving that a young farmer can make it in today’s market. There are many obstacles and barriers for young people, but you can do anything you set your mind to.

Q: What could the existing farmers do most to help future farmers such as yourself?

A: Existing farmers should mentor the next generation.  Farming is not something you wake up one day and decide to do.  It takes years of experience and additional assistance.  I took what my grandfather and dad taught me (and continue to teach me) and added education to make my dream possible.  I still seek guidance in some decisions even today because it is a tough industry that has so many uncontrollable factors (weather, market, etc.).

Q: What is your favorite beef dish?

A: Rib-eye steak grilled medium-rare is hard to beat!

Follow Pryor Farms on Instagram @pryorfarms.

Farm Feature Friday: Bill & Debbie Young of Beech Hill, Tennessee

Bill Young2

By Justin Young, TCA Intern

16-year TCA members, Bill and Debbie Young reside in the peaceful community of Beech Hill, Tennessee in Giles County. The couple has established themselves as quality seedstock producers, not only in the area but in the state. They pride themselves on producing top-notch Black Angus genetics for the commercial producer. Bill and Debbie, like other great farmers, serve as a wonderful example to future producers. When you meet them, or if you know them, you will find out quickly how passionate they are about anything that they are involved in. For example, they are both very involved in their local Civitan International chapter, and they are major advocates of the rural and economic development of Giles County. It is safe to say, that everything they do, they are improving it in some way or another.

Q: How long have you and your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.

A: I live on the farm where I grew up, so my family has been involved in raising cattle all my life.  My direct involvement began in 1998 when my wife and I purchased the shares of the family farm from my family members.

Q: Tell us about your farm today. 

A: Today, we raise registered Black Angus beef cattle.  We have worked hard to raise animals that have high-standard genetics, and because of that, we provide high-quality herd improvement to our buyers.  We sell bulls that are produced to have genetics that will benefit the commercial beef farmer.

Bill Young1Q: What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm?

A: My father had dairy cattle and I was never fond of milking.  My favorite day was when he changed from dairy cows to beef cows and I no longer had to be available to milk 24/7 – when 24/7 was not the popular catchphrase it is today.

Q: What have been some of the trials you or your family has had to overcome?

A: Understanding how to care for the cattle and staying current with progressive operations in the agriculture field requires constant vigilance and training.  Many people think you just buy cows and put them in the field.  There is much more effort required than that for quality, healthy animals.

Q: What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?

A: Life on the farm teaches you the importance of hard work and producing a quality product that you can stand behind.  Your reputation is on the line and the future of your herd depends on you, and the care and effort you put forth.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of farming?

A: Watching the calves play, grow, and become great producers is my favorite part.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges that producers like yourself face day-to-day?

A: As I age, my biggest challenges today is handling the cattle and the equipment myself.  Getting help on the farm when I need it is difficult. Farming is rewarding work, but it’s not for everyone.

Bill Young3Q: What are you most passionate about in the beef industry?

A: The Beef industry has high standards; maintaining those standards will benefit the beef producer.

Q: Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?

A: Learn everything you can from the agriculture resources and promote your product.  We have a slogan we use to promote our product:  “Improving your herd is our business.”

Q: What’s your favorite beef dish?

A: Porterhouse steak on the grill cooked medium.

For more information on Bill and Debbie Young and their Angus business, please visit their website at http://www.friendshipacresfarm.com/

Tennessee Cattlemen’s Recognizes Outstanding Leaders in the Cattle Industry

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The Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association (TCA) awarded seven individuals for their hard work and dedication to the beef cattle industry during the 33rd Annual Tennessee Cattlemen’s Convention and Trade Show in Murfreesboro on January 26, 2018.

These awards were created to recognize outstanding individuals in the various sectors of the cattle industry in Tennessee. Nominated by their peers, the awards presented recognized individuals who have excelled in stocker and cow-calf production, educational programs, business, and service to the beef cattle industry.

“All of this year’s award recipients are dedicated and passionate about their work in the industry,” said Charles Hord, executive vice president of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association. “They are trustworthy and knowledgeable in their fields and widely respected among producers.” 

Jerry Lay from Madisonville, TN won the Dr. Emmit Rawls Outstanding Stocker Producer Award, and Mike Jones from Sweetwater, TN won the Dr. Clyde Lane Outstanding Cow-Calf Producer Award.

Two extension agents within the state were awarded for their dedication to education. Laurie Mobley from Houston County won the Dr. Jim Neel Outstanding Work in Beef Extension Educational Programs Award, and Dan Owen from Lincoln County won the Outstanding Work in 4-H Beef Programs Award.

“It’s an honor to work with the Houston County producers and their beef cattle operations,” said Laurie Mobley. “This award makes me realize how much all the hard work is worth it.”

Alan Thomas of Zoetis Animal Health from Johnson City, TN won the Business Person of the Year, and Billy Ashe from Stantonville, TN won the John Bartee Distinguished Service Award. Senator Dolores Gresham from Somerville, TN was recognized as the TCA Legislator of the Year.

“I am so proud and honored to be recognized in this realm,” said Sen. Gresham. “I am a city girl born and bred but I am a born again farmer. I have learned so much living on the farm after living in the city. That is that the beef industry is a way of life, it is a set of values that acknowledge God as our creator and us as stewards of His creation. We must aggressively protect those values and that way of life.”

TCA looks forward to working with these individuals and other great people in the cattle industry for years to come. Applications for next year’s awards will be available in the late fall of 2018.

 

Women Connected Conference Accepting Applications

bigstock--200232019The American Angus Auxiliary is excited to announce that it is hosting its fourth Women Connected Conference bringing together Angus cattlewomen, Auxiliary members and other women involved in the Angus industry. Twenty women will be selected from applications to join the 10-member Auxiliary executive committee April 18-20, 2018, in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, at the historic Elms Hotel. The theme for this bi-annual conference is “Engaging Minds, Renewing Spirits”. Attendees will participate in networking activities, educational workshops and tours.

“The Women Connected Conference is a time for women involved in the Angus industry to get together to network and learn with and from each other,” said Anne Lampe, Women Connected Conference chair. “It’s a great opportunity to bring together women from all demographics and backgrounds to improve our industry.”

An application is available here and is due Feb. 15. For more information, contact conference chair Anne Lampe at alampe@wbsnet.org or 620-874-4273. Selected applicants will be notified by March 1.

Registration costs, including lodging and meals, will be provided through the generous support of the Angus Foundation; participants will be responsible for transportation to and from the Kansas City International Airport if flying and Excelsior Springs if driving.

Abbreviated Schedule:

Wednesday, April 18

3-5 p.m. – Registration, hotel check in – Elms Hotel & Spa, Excelsior Springs, Missouri.

6:30 p.m. – Gathering followed by welcome, opening session, dinner – Entertainment by Cara Bout Ag, Cara Pascalar Ayers.

Thursday, April 19    

Workshops, educational sessions, networking. Featured presentation,“Empower & Encourage” with Debbie Lyons Blythe and Chef Alli Winter.

Friday, April 20

8:00 a.m. – Hotel check out and depart for St. Joseph, Missouri.

9:00 a.m. – Tours and workshops at American Angus Association® headquarters, St. Joseph, Missouri.

2:30 p.m. –Wrap up and departures. Transportation to airport will be provided for those flying.

Complete schedule will be announced after selection of participants.

Farm Feature Friday: Larry Church of Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee

By Melinda Perkins, TCA Intern

Church1Larry Church from Mt. Pleasant, TN is a Federation representative and past chairman of the Tennessee Beef Industry Council. Larry is dedicated to not only his cattle operation but also to his family and country. This Q&A with Larry is sure to make you laugh and appreciate life on the farm.

How long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.

I’m 66 years old and have been involved with cattle probably 62 of those years.  I started following my father at around 4-years-old and have loved cattle and farming all my life.  My father was a dairyman milking Holsteins in a small Grade A dairy operation. I started showing dairy cattle when I turned 10 years old, and I worked on the family farm and showed cattle until I finished high school. At that time, I went into the Army National Guard and my father bought my cattle which allowed me to buy my first car.  As my life started, I married my high school sweetheart and we had our two daughters. As time progressed, I started farming with my father-in-law due to his health issues and still worked full time for the military. I did most of my farming at night and on the weekend. My father made the decision to retire and offered the dairy operation to me in 1982; we discussed it and I declined the offer.  I remember telling him that I would like to work with him in a beef cow-calf operation, and his reply was, “Okay, let’s do it.”  So, I guess this is how my farming operation developed.

Larry Church Head Shot

Larry Church

Tell us about your farm today.
In 2004, I became the owner of this operation with the passing of my father.  My wife and I have 93 cows and bred heifers, along with 86 calves as of today.  We market our calves through the Middle Tennessee Beef Alliance.  We background our calves and shoot for a target weight of 750 to 800 pounds. We have black and black-baldie cows, and Black Angus and Hereford bulls. At one time, our operation was headed to a full registered Angus operation and we sold seed stock bulls but as my father advanced in age, he was not able to help me with artificially inseminating. He would get the cattle up during the day and when I got home in the evening I would do the AI work. Times changed and the feeder calves became more profitable than the seed stock so we quit the seed stock part of our business and sold the AI equipment.

Church4What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm?
You ask what I’m most proud of and I must answer that by saying ‘my family’.  You see, I grew up along with my sister showing dairy calves and we loved it, and as my children came into this world I thought they would want to show cattle too.  Our oldest daughter wanted no part of showing.  She did not have a problem with working on the farm but showing was not for her. Then, the youngest girl came along.  She was all about showing and showed registered Angus on into college.  That was 20 years back and I thought we were finished showing cattle.  Little did I know, that the middle granddaughter would have other plans and in 2017 she started showing Herefords.  She is now 12, and she and her 8-year-old sister and 4-year-old cousin think showing cattle is all there is. I must say what I’m most proud of is what the farm has taught my daughters and my five grandchildren.

What have been some of the trials you and your family has had to overcome?
There are always trials in farm life. It is difficult to take an operation and make it profitable but with the proper education, a good finical advisor, and a strong work ethic you can make it work.  I would have to say our hardest trial was the year I spent in Iraq. Knowing that I was going to have to go to war, I had to make some decisions about the farm.  It would not survive a year with no one here to do the daily chores. I knew my wife would give all she had but it was impossible for her to do all of it.  I made an offer to my son-in-law that if he would take on the operation of the farm while I was gone that I would give him the calf crop for that year. He already had a contracting business and cattle operation with his father, but he took the offer and somehow made it work. Let me add, that this was in 2007– the year of the worst drought in my lifetime. We only made about 150 rolls of hay that year but we made it. Thank goodness, we had some hay in the barns from past years.  To go along with this, you know the saying, “nothing goes wrong until you leave.”  Well, Murphy works well… I had hardly left when the electric transformer to the barn started throwing. You know, the electric transformer that ran the pump in my well that watered the cattle. The electric company understood and kept everything going after my wonderful wife had a “come to Jesus” phone call to them. It only took my wife explaining to them that the cattle didn’t have water to get them there during the late evening on a holiday weekend. Then, there was another time when I was in Iraq that I received an email from her that contained two lines. Line number one said, “I love you” and line two said, “I hate your cows”. I quickly determined it must’ve been a bad day on the farm. It seems that she was leaving for work and as she reached the blacktop we had cows out on the road.  So, dressed for work she proceeded to figure out how to get the cows back to the farm. Thank goodness for the county road crews.  They came on the scene and helped her. The irony of all of this is that it’s a very rare thing for my cows to get out.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?

 

You ask what I wish more people knew about life on the farm, and I think my answer to that is I wish people understood how much we care about the farm and the animals. I consider it a great insult for organizations such as PETA, HSUS, and others to make the accusations they do about raising livestock. My cattle are my job.

What does it mean to you to be able to work with your family every day?

Cattle farming is a way of life. It is a great joy for me to have my family involved in my work.

Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?

My advice to young producers is that to succeed you must have a passion for farming and livestock. It takes a lot of work and passion. Those that are not willing to put 150% effort into the operation need to find another line of work.

What’s your favorite beef dish?
My favorite beef dish is a BIG rib eye steak.  There is nothing any better to me.