Farm Feature Friday: Gary Daniel of Wayne County, Tennessee

By TCA Intern, Melinda Perkins

Today’s Farm Feature Friday is no stranger to the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association. Gary Daniel of Wayne County is the past President of TCA. In thisDaniels4 week’s feature, Gary tells us about his cow-calf operation and the joy he gets from raising his grandchildren as the sixth generation of their operation.

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

Our grandchildren are the sixth generation to grow up on our farm.  We have always had cattle on this farm but when I returned to the farm in 1987 we began to expand by buying adjacent properties as they became available.  We have slowly grown to the operation we have today.

Tell us about your farm today.

Today we have approximately 1100 acres and try to maintain a cow-calf operation of about 200 cows.  We wean, precondition, and grow our calves to approximately 800 pounds.  The cows are mostly black with a small influence of Maine, Chi, or Simmental.  We try to market our calves through the Tennessee Beef Alliance.  We also maintain aDaniels1 few registered cows to produce calves for the grandchildren to show.

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

I was able to learn early in life how important it is to be a good steward of the land and livestock.

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

Like any business, trying to stay financially sound is a constant concern.  Also, trying to keep up with the rapid advancements in technology that are happening in agriculture isDaniels3 an ongoing challenge.  One must constantly be evaluating what will work and be beneficial to their operation.

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

It is one of the most rewarding ways of life that I can imagine.  We get to spend our days caring for animals, providing for their needs, and watching them grow and eventually provide a healthy and nutritious meal for our consumers.

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

Being able to raise grandchildren and give them the farm experience is not only great for them but very rewarding for me.  They get to learn responsibilities that their peers never experience.  They get to see the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly parts of life on the farm on a daily basis.

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

Start slow and grow.  The learning curve never ends.Daniels5

What is your favorite beef dish?

Anything beef is great but for a favorite I would say a filet cooked medium.

Meet the Future Monday: Erin Bacon of Jefferson County, Tennessee

State FFA Secretary, University of Tennessee Volunteer, and young cattle producer are three things that describe this week’s Meet the Future Monday. Erin BaconBacon1 shares with us her understanding of producing a safe and abundant beef product in this week’s feature.

Describe your operation

I live on a small cow/calf operation in Jefferson County where we raise and sell Hereford/Angus crosses.

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

I have enjoyed being able to play an active role in my family’s operation, and see firsthand how food is produced. Learning the ins and outs of the business at a young age opened my eyes to the hard work, dedication, and passion that drives beef cattle production. I love the feeling when a new calf is born or we sell a weanling because I know that animal will serve a purpose in the food supply, and it is my job to raise it to the best quality it can be.

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

My father started this operation from the ground up. He has overcome the discomforts of agricultural life, and celebrated its joys, but he never lost sight of what was truly important. Our animals’ welfare comes before anything else, and he will do anything in Bacon2his power to ensure they are healthy and comfortable. He has always taken the time to stop and explain how to do a task or why it’s important to my older brother and I. I can honestly say I do not believe my passion for agriculture would be nearly as strong if had not have been for my dad.

What are you most passionate about in your business?

I am passionate about contributing my part in creating a safe, abundant food supply for the growing population, and ensuring that my cattle are happy and healthy every step of the way. There is a sense of pride that swells up whenever I watch an animal go off to market, knowing that it has lived the best life it could have and it is a high-quality product for consumers.

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

As a young farmer, I believe the biggest challenge facing my generation is finding a way to be proactive rather than reactive when facing consumer misconceptions, a changing diet in consumers, and producing food through transparency. Our income is heavily reliant on the consumption of our products, and those sales will continue to decrease if the public still does not trust us or our practices. It is our job to connect with consumers, rather than debate them.

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

I hope that in ten years I will be working for an agency such as the United States Department of Agriculture or Animal Agriculture Alliance, promoting the needs of livestock producers and marketing US agriculture products. I see my operation doubling in size and shifting towards registered Hereford production.

How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?

I have only just begun to realize the world of possibilities we have together in agriculture to grow as producers. I will take back my knowledge I will learn as an Animal Science student at the University of Tennessee and implement it in my own operation. I hope to become AI certified to improve my herd genetics, and obtain BQA certification to increase the value of my market cattle.

How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?

I always remember the saying from Dr. Seuss’s book, Horton Hears a Who, when itBacon3 comes my involvement in production agriculture: “A person’s a person no matter how small.” I may never have the largest beef cattle operation in Tennessee, but it does not matter if I feed one family or a thousand. I still made a difference in that way. I will leave my footprint on the beef industry by taking care of my home and community, therefore contributing to the overall success of Tennessee agriculture.

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

Agriculture is all about learning together, working together, and growing together. Personally, I believe there is no better way to develop a better understanding of agriculture than to learn from someone who had walked thousands of miles in the shoes we are about to step into. If current agriculturalists could communicate their practices with us and show us what works and what does not, feeding the 9.5 billion people by the year 2050 will be a much more feasible task.

What is your favorite beef dish?

I do not know how you can pick just one, but I do not believe I would make it very long if I had to go without ribeye steaks!

Farm Feature Friday: Wade Dunaway and Family

By TCA Intern, Justin Young

Sergeant Wade Dunaway and Dunaway family farms are the center of this weeks Farm Feature Friday. Wade and his wife McKenzie have three children, Lily, Jackson, and Henry. Wade is a veteran of the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently serves as an Army reserve. Wade, his father Ricky and cousin John Dunaway all farm together. The Dunaway’s farm just under 400 acres of land in DeKalb and Rutherford counties. WadeDunaway1 serves as the Chapter President of Alpha Gamma Rho at Middle Tennessee State University and also serves as the Block and Bridle Club Marshal. Additionally, Wade participates in the Dairy Challenge Team at MTSU. While finishing school, tending to his farm and family, Wade also works at Lascassas farm supply. Take a minute to get to know a respected veteran and local cattle farmer, Wade Dunaway!

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

A: Our family farming operations goes back so far that we cannot put a date on it. My grandfather said that we have always been a family farm. There are pre-civil war gravesites on our farm here in Lascassas. Before transitioning to beef, we were always a dairy farm, raising Brown Swiss.

Q: Who influenced you most in pursing a career in agriculture/farming?

A: My father and grandfather both were instrumental in developing my passion for farming. I had my first two animals when I was 14. When I left for Iraq, I obviously got out of what little bit of farming I was doing. When I came home, my dad helped me get back into the industry with a few head, and I have continued from there.

Q: Tell us about your farm today (breed of cattle, type of operation, what are you proud of, etc.)

A: Today we raise a few steers, as well as having a cow-calf operation. The herd is based on Santa Gertrudis and Limousin genetics. We have recently transitioned to usingDunaway2 registered black Angus bulls on our herd to market our cattle better.

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

A: Being surrounded by my family and working with them is my favorite part. The closeness that is created by family farming is unbeatable. I love being with and around my family. I can recall me and my cousins running around the milk barn while everyone was milking when we were little. We always had family out to enjoy the farm and we would have family dinners after milking. Now we have our families out enjoying our beef herd and our kids are running around like me and my cousins did.

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

A: Back when we phased out of dairy due to heavy regulations, out learning curve was great. We were used to farming calm Brown Swiss cows. We purchased some Limousin cows and they were crazy at first. We had to learn the beef industry while still trying toDunaway3 be profitable. Just like everyone else, we have had to change with the times. When my grandfather passed away, it was tough for a while because he held everything and everyone together.

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

A: I wished people knew how much we care about our animals and what we do as farmers. I wished the “no antibiotic” crowd would understand that if we do not give antibiotics to an animal in some scenarios, that the animal will suffer and possibly die. Misinformation is really damaging to agriculture, so combatting that is important to me.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of farming?

A: I really enjoy being around the community of people that tend to come with farming and agriculture. When I am working at the feed store, I can talk to and learn from the farmers that I meet. I enjoy the relationships and network of people that I have been blessed with, and I attribute much of that to agriculture.

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

A: I am most passionate about combatting misinformation and advocating for agriculture and its producers. I feel that it is very important to the success of the industry that we advocate and protect farmers from misinformation and constant attacks. We canDunaway4 do this by inviting people out to our farms and show them that we really do care for our animals well. Sometimes all it takes is to explain a process to a person; that may reduce their apprehensiveness and doubts about the industry.

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

A: I would strongly recommend that anyone wanting to raise beef cattle invest in quality animals on the front end rather than later. Quality animals pay for themselves quickly so don’t be cheap as can be when purchasing animals.

Q: What’s your favorite beef dish?

A: Top Sirloin cooked medium rare.

TN Cattlemen’s Scholarship Application Now Available

2018 TCA ScholarshipThe Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association and Tennessee Cattlewomen’s Association will award three scholarships for the 2018-2019 academic year. These are $600 scholarships that will be awarded to students that are involved in the beef industry, pursuing a career in the beef industry and emerging industry leaders.

The application process will be evaluated 50% on the essay describing an issue confronting the beef industry in Tennessee, and 50% based on involvement in 4-H, FFA, and/or cattle youth activities. The application also includes three letters of reference. The applicant must be a Tennessee Cattlemen’s Youth Association member or the child/grandchild of a TCA or TCWA member. 

“TCA is proud to help support the future of our industry be offering a scholarship to deserving youth interested in studying agriculture,” said Charles Hord, Executive Vice President of TCA. “We look forward to seeing what the future holds for them.”

The 2018 scholarship application must be received by June 15, 2018. The application can be found in the April, May, and June issues of the Tennessee Cattle Business magazine or online HERE.

Meet the Future Monday: The Hopkins Brothers of Hopkins Ranch of Herefords

By TCA Intern, Justin Young

Jordan Hopkins and his brothers, Nathan, Ethan, and Zachary and their Hopkins Ranch of Herefords are the center of this weeks Meet the Future Monday. Their parents are Roy and Kim Hopkins, and the family hails from Winchester, TN. Those who know theHopkins3 Hopkins know that they are a team through and through. The brothers run their ranch together, each holding different positions within the operation. Jordan is the manager of the ranch, Nathan and Ethan are the show-barn managers, and Zachary oversees genetics and various veterinary responsibilities. Jordan is a recent Agribusiness graduate of Middle Tennessee State University’s school of Agriculture, Nathan is a junior at Vanderbilt University majoring in Molecular Biology, Ethan is a senior in high school, and Zachary is in veterinary school at University of Tennessee, hence his veterinary responsibilities on the farm. The Hopkins brothers have shown for 15 years and can be seen at most cattle shows across Tennessee and others across the country. Take a minute to get to know the Hopkins brothers and Hopkins Ranch of Herefords.

Interviewee: Jordan Hopkins, Hopkins Ranch of Herefords Manager

Q: How long has your family been farming?

A: Hopkins Ranch of Herefords is a third-generation Hereford operation (Polled and Horned).

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

A: I have really enjoyed learning the various responsibilities of farming, as well as the critical thinking situations that have prepared me for many areas of life. Many of the decisions made on the farm can be tough, but they have taught me so much about business and profitability. I think for all of us brothers to be working together like we do is valuable and wholesome. Communication is key amongst us and we enjoy being able to say that we are doing this together–it truly is a family effort with us.

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

A: Our father has been a great influence on our family. He is a minister here in Winchester and has taught and raised us to be godly, Christian men. Secondly, I have learned a great deal from Randy Mullinix, one of the most elite Hereford breeders in theHopkins2 country. I can always reach out to him and learn from him. He is one of the best cattle clipper/fitters in the country and has some of the best show cattle in the country.

Q: Describe your operation.

A: Hopkins Ranch of Herefords is a 350-acre seedstock Hereford ranch. We always keep around 120 head, but are constantly selling private treaty, consigning, and participating in heifer sales. We row crop some of our own feeds and do our own hay. Just recently, we are getting more into embryos, IVF, and flushing practices. Additionally, we keep about 40-50 angus recips and sell 20-30 herd bulls every year.

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

A: I really enjoy when a kid comes to buy a show calf from us. We want to see that kid succeed greatly with that animal. We take pride in providing people with a quality product. Something I am very excited about is doing yearly production sales in the future.

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

A: Self taught in some ways, I think one of my biggest challenges is learning things that I am not skilled in to save some money. For instance, mechanic work on equipment. Learning to troubleshoot things can be hard when you do not have too much experience in an area. Managing money is always unique depending on the farm, but its always relevant. Lastly, being in the younger generation of our industry, gaining notoriety and respect amongst the industry can be challenging when you are the youngest and leastHopkins4 experienced.

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

A: In 10 years, I would like to see us have a yearly production sale at the farm, win national shows, and develop an online sale for our show heifers.

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

A: We will continue to improve and grow our farm through inquiry of other farms and furthering our knowledge. We plan to be active learners and always improving on our knowledge. I enjoy talking to and learning from other farmers about their operation; what worked for them, and what did not, etc. We have never been afraid to approach anyone or ask for help. To be the best, you sometimes must ask the best.

Q: How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?

A: We would like to leave our footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee by providing sound, stout, functional cattle to people all over the state and the country. We also hope to have our Christian faith positively impact people in their interactions with us.

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

A: I think one of the best ways the current, more established farmers could help younger farmers is to help them decipher what is worth spending money on, and what is not. Knowing whether something will improve your product or not has a great impact on the future farmers. Asking those farmers what has been most profitable for them, or maybe what hasn’t been, is valuable to younger farmers.

Q: What is your favorite beef dish?

A:

Jordan: Filet Mignon cooked medium

Nathan: Filet Mignon cooked medium-well

Ethan: New York Strip cooked medium

Zachary: New York Strip cooked medium

Be sure to follow them on Facebook at Hopkins Ranch of Herefords!Hopkins1

 

 

 

 

Farm Feature Friday: the Brown Family of Overton County, Tennessee

By TCA Intern, Melinda Perkins

The Brown’s have a reputable history for raising practical and productive Registered Angus herd bulls. However, the best part of their history is getting to do it as a family. Richard and Kristen share with us the basics of their herd and their devotion to theBrown3 business in this week’s Farm Feature Friday.

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

Spring Oak Farm originated from the acquisition of a Registered Angus cow herd in the late 70’s. After graduating college in 1989, my dad began to concentrate his efforts on the cow herd and grew the herd to approximately 100 cows. I acquired my first show heifer and a select few females from that herd in 2004. In 2007, my uncle (Kent Brown) gave me one of the foundation cows, a New Day daughter, which I still have today. My grandfather (Roy Mason) has always had a desire for me to own my own herd. In 2008, my dad and I, along with my uncle and grandfather’s help, began to acquire and build my herd to the 60 breeding age females that I have today. We continue to grow and improve upon this herd with the tools we have such as artificial insemination, embryo transplant, AHIR records, and i50K testing.

Tell us about your farm today (breed of cattle, what are you proud of, etc.)

Our operation today is run on approximately 160 acres in Rickman, TN. Our main focus is raising Registered Angus cattle with an emphasis on selling registered Angus bulls in the “Genetic Excellence” Bull sale each January. My dad and uncle started this sale 14 years ago and this year’s sale lots averaged almost $4,000. I am proud of the success I Brown2have had in the bull sale. We also have a herd of approximately 25 Angus based commercial cows.

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

My favorite part of growing up on the farm has been getting to work alongside my family. The memories I have made and lessons I have learned have been invaluable and unforgettable. My dad has always told me that everything I did on a day to day basis, no matter how difficult or easy, would pay off in the end. Because of this, I have learned to work hard, be dedicated, and have passion for what I do.

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

I think the trials that we have faced are like those of most cattlemen.
Those trials are things like finding enough time in the day to get everything done and having enough hands around to get everything done. Another trial we have faced, just like every other cattle producer, has been marketing our cattle through the fluctuation of the cattle market.

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

Life on the farm is a full-time job– 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. It requires an immense amount of dedication. It doesn’t matter the circumstances—hot, cold, rain, orBrown1 snow, things still must be done. As cattle farmers we can’t say, “we will do it later,” or “it can wait until tomorrow,” because the cattle must be fed and cared for every single day.

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

I can’t imagine it any other way. It is because we share the same love and passion for raising reputable Registered Angus cattle that we can achieve our goals. It means everything to me that our operation is 100% family operated. I take pride in knowing that we can work together to accomplish not only the day-to-day chores but also our long-term goals.

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

Be determined, be passionate, and work hard every day knowing that you are working towards the common goal of every cattleman. You should also know that it doesn’t come easy; you must be committed. You should also be thankful for the opportunity to not only be raised in this way of life but also for the work ethic and knowledge that it equips you with.

What’s your favorite beef dish?

Brown4Without a doubt it would have to be a big juicy Certified Angus Beef ribeye steak with a loaded backed potato, rice, broccoli, and mac n cheese.

Is there anything else you can share with us?

I have been showing cattle since I was about four years old on the local, state, and national levels. I have been an active member of the American Angus Association and the Tennessee Junior Angus Association. I was honored to have the opportunity to be able to serve as the Tennessee Junior Angus Association president and the Tennessee Angus Queen. I am currently attending the University of Tennessee majoring in Animal Science with a concentration in Animal Industries and a minor in Food and Ag Business.

Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association 2018 Membership Drive Happening NOW!

The Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association (TCA) is now holding their annual membership drive sponsored by the Tennessee Farmers Coop (TFC) again this year. The membership drive has brought more than 1,000 new members to TCA since 2007 and helped membership grow to record levels.

Individuals that recruit new members for TCA will receive prizes for their efforts. A new member of TCA is defined as someone that has not been a member of TCA since 2016.

Membership Drive.jpg

For a downloadable version, visit http://www.tncattle.org under the Events & Programs tab.

“We are excited about our 2018 membership competition. Our membership continues to grow and we are now one of the largest associations,” said Charles Hord, TCA Exective Vice President. “Thanks to Tennessee Farmers Coop we have some great prizes for both individual recruiters and extension agents that help our association grow.”

The prizes for the membership drive are as follows: recruit one member and receive a steer lapel pin, recruit three new members to receive maroon TCA t-shirt, recruit five new members and receive a TCA toboggan, and recruit ten new members to receive a maroon TCA polo shirt. The maroon t-shirts and polo shirts are only available to recruiters for their efforts.

To receive credit, TCA members must be noted as the recruiter when the new membership is received in 2018. Recruiters will be mailed their prizes from the TCA office on a quarterly basis.

TFC will sponsor prizes for the top three county Extension programs who recruited new members to TCA. The top three individual agents who recruit the highest number of new members will receive a donation of $500 in their name to their local 4-H Livestock Program. One Extension program from each grand division of Tennessee will be recognized and receive the contribution.

Winners of the 2018 TCA/TFC Extension Membership Drive will be announced at the 2019 TCA Convention and Trade Show in Murfreesboro, TN.

Information can be found in the Tennessee Cattle Business magazine, April issue. For more information, visit www.tncattle.org, email info@tncattle.org, or call (615) 896-2333.

Membership Discount Now Available with New Hired Hand Cow Sprayer

Cow Sprayer Official LogoTennessee Cattlemen’s Association members now have the unique opportunity to save money when purchasing any cow sprayer with New Hired Hand LLC in 2018. The discount includes $200 off any sprayer of your choice.

Cow Sprayer safely protects your livestock from internal and external parasites. It also gives them a shiny coat, which increases their market value…all for about $0.05 per head.

Available products can be found on their website: www.cowsprayer.com. To learn more about their products and effectiveness, click here.

“We are very excited about our partnership with the New Hired Hand,” said Charles Hord, TCA executive vice president. “The $200 discount TCA members can receive on the cow sprayer is a great benefit and can be used in addition to the TAEP program.”

Members can take advantage of the discount by presenting their unique TCA membership number that is found on their membership card. If a person is not a member and would like to take part in this discount, they can join TCA for $30 per year by calling: (615) 896-2333, downloading the application online: www.tncattle.org, or by purchasing online at www.tncattle.org/shop. The purchase must be made during the 2018 year and be in the state of Tennessee.

UT Extension to Conduct Southeast TN Beef Summit

HRREC cattleBeef production, feeder calf management, soil management, no-till drill calibration and updates on new technology and equipment for the beef industry are topics to be discussed during the Southeast TN Beef Summit on April 27 at the McMinn County Expo Center.

Check-in for the event begins at 8 a.m. EDT, with 35-minute educational sessions scheduled from 8:45 to 11:55 a.m. Speakers from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture will be conducting the morning sessions.

In addition to the educational sessions, the summit will host the largest beef trade show in southeast Tennessee. The morning sessions will be followed by a catered lunch, Jennifer Houston, the president-elect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, will give the keynote address after lunch.

The program will be held at the McMinn County Expo Center, which is inside Athens Regional Park. It will conclude at 2 p.m.

The summit is free to attend, but preregistration is required by April 20, 2018. To register, contact your local UT Extension office or UT Extension – McMinn County at 423-745-2852 or UT Extension – Meigs County at 423-334-5781.

This program, like all UT Extension programs, is open to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability or veteran status.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence in providing Real. Life. Solutions. through teaching, discovery, and service.ag.tennessee.edu.

Meet the Future Monday: Alaina Staggs of Lawrence County, Tennessee

This week’s Meet the Future Monday is nothing short of a passionate and devoted cattlewoman. In this week’s feature, Alaina shares with us her desire to use technology not only to breed her cows but promote her cattle operation. Be sure to check out Alaina’s blog, Agvocating From Brush Creek, where she actively shares and promotes the farming way of life.

Staggs3Describe your operation

I am a fifth-generation member of the Staggs family’s cow-calf operation located in southern Middle Tennessee on “Brush Creek”, and a second generation member of Broken S Farms. Our operation consists of roughly 300 acres that runs along the Natchez Trace Parkway on the Lawrence and Wayne county line.

My family has raised beef cattle with registered Charolais or Angus sires since the late 1970’s. We currently run four registered Charolais bulls and one registered Black Angus bull. We also have between 80 to 100 commercial cows and replacement heifers, a select set of registered Charolais heifers and cows, and one ornery three-quarters Braham cow named Sprinkles. At last count, we had approximately 70 calves on the ground.

Apart from cattle, Brush Creek Honey Farm has been in operation since the 1980’s. My parents raise Blue Heeler and Great Pyrenees working dogs, chickens, brush goats, and several assorted breeds of fowl such as turkey, quail, pheasant, and peacock.


What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?
My favorite memories as a young girl involve all aspects of the farm. As a small child, I remember the summers spent in the hayfield and the winters spent busting ponds and water troughs. I always loved being down at the barn around springtime when the buttercups began to bloom, or in the garden during the summer standing barefoot in freshly tilled ground.


Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?
My Pappaw and mother have both been the two driving forces in my pursuit of a career and a livelihood in agriculture. From goats to calves, my roots in the animal agriculture industry are widespread and I owe a deep thanks to those two people for instilling a passion for agriculture in me.


What are you most passionate about in your business?
The constant learning and the ability to make a connection with a consumer at the end of the day are my two passions in this business. I never could have imagined that I would have met as many people, or accomplished as many things, thanks to loving beef and the cattle industry as a whole. I pride myself on my efforts to advocate so broadly and so loudly, and I think that my ability to communicate with those around me the love and the patience put into my family’s herd (as well as those around the country) is my biggest blessing.


What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?
Both as a young farmer and a young woman, I think one of the most difficult obstacles that I’ve had to face is being taken seriously by the rest of the industry. To have that happen, it takes confidence in yourself and that is not always something that I readily have. I think to be able to most effectively have an impact both within the industry and at the consumer level, the ability to be “worth your salt” is invaluable in contributing to that.

Where do you see yourself and your operation in 10 years? In ten years, I hope to see my family’s operation continue to thrive, expand and continuously grow. I tell people constantly that I’m going to college in order to provide “for my cows.” At the end of each day, in ten years I hope that I can look back and take pride in the steps that my family and I have taken to keep our operation running as I know how hard it has been – and still is – to remain operating due to declining health of my grandparents and various financial issues that farmers across the nation face. Right now, the bulk of the operation falls on my mother and my siblings as I am away at college. I think my biggest goal in life is to be able to go home at the end of every day and remain involved on the family farm.


How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?
Personally, I would like to begin utilizing more technological advances in the beef industry and take advantage of more reproductive practices. With our purebred stock, we already utilize semen Staggs2collection but I am working on completing artificial insemination training in order to begin AI’ing of our heifers myself. I also think it would be interesting to dabble in more Brahman or Brangus influence within our existing herd as I feel that is a more progressive turn away from the local Continental or British cattle influence found within my community.
How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?
I am so very passionate when it comes to preserving the legacy and enhancing the future of the agricultural industry. I have attempted to lay a strong foundation for myself in the field of agricultural communications in hopes of making the beef industry a more common place for consumers. Improving consumer relations and the overall concept of what beef means in Tennessee is one of my goals as a rising producer. I hope that I can have a positive, lasting impact on Tennessee’s beef industry as I believe we are one of the most diverse and influential beef states in the nation, and we have the ability to continuously leave a positive footprint on the beef industry.

 

What could the existing farmers do most to help future farmers such as yourself? I feel that young farmers already have the resources and abilities to make a connection with a large audience through social media and organizations like Tennessee Cattlemen’s and Young Farmers and Ranchers. I think that many younger generations of farmers, or Staggs1perhaps brand new “first-gen” producers, have a hard time connecting with older producers in their community. I think this ties back into being taken seriously, but I think encouragement from already established producers as well as a willingness to mentor (and sometimes even learn from) the new kids on the block would be extremely beneficial to rising cattlemen and women.


What is your favorite beef dish?

Brisket nachos or steak carnitas covered in queso. I am an avid fan of Tex-Mex and Spanish cuisine, and adding brisket to anything just takes the eating experience to the next level.