Farm Feature Friday: Nick Rippy of Bedford County, Tennessee

By TCA Intern, Justin Young

Nick Rippy and Pleasant Valley Farms are the spotlight of this weeks Farm Feature Friday. Nick and his family own and operate Pleasant Valley Farms, formerly the Waterfall Farm in Shelbyville. Wayne and Jean Day, Nick’s grandparents bought the former walking horse farm and have since converted it into one of Tennessee’s greatest Angus farms. Their grandson, Nick Rippy is the Operations Manager of all thingsRippy3 Pleasant Valley Farms and is the interviewee. Nick is an Agribusiness major and Real Estate minor at Middle Tennessee State University, and graduates in December. Nick and his fiancé, Abi Armstrong are set to be married in May. Nick is a very accomplished young man who is doing a great job with Pleasant Valley Farms. Pleasant Valley Farms is easily noticeable from the highway, as it is a beautiful premier farm of the area. Take some time to get to know Nick Rippy and Pleasant Valley Farms below!

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

A: My grandad got started farming with some mixed breed commercial cows in 1997.

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

A: Today, Pleasant Valley Farms is spread between middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky, with 2,500 acres. We are in the registered Angus business, commercial beef business, and horse business. I would have to say that we are most proud of our genetic improvements to our herd. I feel like we have some of the best cows in the country, especially to build your herd from.

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

A: Being surrounded by nature, learning the animals, and the lessons I learned while growing up are all very valuable aspects of growing up on the farm. I feel like there is no better lifestyle than farming.

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

Rippy2A: Distance; I am pretty much the only member of my family that is here at Pleasant Valley Farms in Shelbyville. My family is in northern Tennessee, along with some of our herds, but doing this mostly alone (the main operation) gets tough. Balancing school, work and family can all be tough.

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

A: I wished people knew the value of the lifestyle. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, it may be difficult to understand. You learn the value of life, and you get to experience the gratification of seeing your calves grow from the ground up; it is unbeatable.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of farming?

A: Watching the calves be born and seeing them grow into what you had in your mind when you were selecting how to breed the dam. Seeing the sire genetics on paper, and then being able to transfer that over to your product is exciting to me. I spend a lot of time and effort on genetics and the quality of my animals. My favorite part is being able to match up potential sire’s strengths with cows in order to produce a quality animal.

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

A: Just like any other farmer, I face changing markets and prices, variable weatherRippy1 conditions, and the other obstacles that can happen with farming. Other than that, being a younger farmer, balancing school and all the aspects of the farm can get tough.

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

A: I am most passionate about genetics and overall quality. I put so much emphasis on quality genetics because it is what will eventually determine the success of your operation. On the commercial end of things, backgrounding, vaccinating and pre-conditioning calves is vital to the beef industry maintaining quality and further improvement.

Q: Where would you like to see your farm in 10 years?

A: I would like to see Pleasant Valley Farms be one of the best Angus farms in Tennessee. I would also like to see us have yearly female and bull production sales in the future. Rippy4Additionally, I would like to further expand our embryo business. Eventually, I want to see Pleasant Valley Farms to be one of the most quality and premier producers in the U.S.

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

A: I would tell any beef farmer to not be afraid of paying a little extra for proven genetics and quality because it will pay off in the long run. Quality over quantity is very important in the registered business, because registered business influences the commercial business. If we invest in good genetics on the front end, it will pay off for everyone.

Q: What’s your favorite beef dish?

A: Dry aged ribeye cooked medium rare

Keep in mind: Spring Production sale spring 2019!

Facebook: Pleasant Valley Farms

Website: http://www.pvfarms.net

TCA Intern, Justin Young, Interviews District 28 State Senator

By TCA Intern, Justin Young

Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President, Charles Hord, along with interns, Melinda Perkins and Justin Young, have made several trips to Capitol Hill this spring. Specifically, they visited the new Cordell Hull building on Wednesday, February 14th to sit in on the House Sub-Agriculture Committee meeting and meet with legislators. During this visit, Young interviewed the District 28 State Senator, Joey Hensley. District 28 includes Giles, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury, Perry, and Wayne counties.

When asked why he ran for senate, Senator Hensley responded saying that he ran because felt he could make a significant impact on his community and his district counties. Hensley has always felt that he could represent his people well due to his Senator Hensley.pngprevious involvement on the school board and his former role as the county commissioner. During his time as a senator, Hensley is the most proud of his role in improving education legislation, pro-life legislation, and defunding planned parenthood.

Senator Hensley conveyed a strong feeling of support for our farmers and agricultural communities. Hensley believes that some of the greatest challenges and area of improvement regarding rural communities are broadband access, highway maintenance and funding, and the opioid crisis. Being from rural Lewis county, he feels that he understands the struggles of farmers and rural folks. Hensley stated that the lack of young farmers is alarming, but there will never be a substitution for farmers. Hensley is a supporter of the Tennessee Ag Enhancement Program (TAEP). He believes that it is a great resource for farmers of all ages because it can help offset of the variable costs and difficult conditions that farmers often time endure.

Senator Hensley said that some of the hot issues in this legislative session will include, rural job production, education improvements, teacher raises, broadband access, tax cut-backs, and rural city highway funding.

Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association would like to thank Senator Hensley for his dedication to rural communities and agriculture.

Meet the Future Monday: Wingler Siblings of Rutherford County, Tennessee

By TCA Intern, Melinda Perkins

At 13 and 10 years old, Foster and Lauren Wingler have a passion and understanding of the agriculture industry that would be hard to match. With these two characteristics alone, they are equipped to take their operation, Cedar Forest Farm, to a whole new level. They share their perspective and goals for the future in this week’s Meet the Future Monday.

Wingler2Describe your operation.

Our farm, Cedar Forest, is located in South Central Rutherford County. Both of us, along with our mom who is an Animal Science graduate from MTSU, operate the farm. Our dad owns and operates a tree service. We run about 25 head of Registered Hereford Cattle, and go to about 15 shows, including regional and national shows, each year where we show our cattle. We meet a lot of friends and people from across the country.

We love rural America. The passion for Agriculture runs deep in our blood. We are the fifth generation in our family with this passion. We are junior members of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association and have both received the TCA/ Farm Credit Heifer Scholarship Award. We are also junior members of the American and Tennessee Junior Hereford Association, as well as, Rutherford County 4-H. We feel that growing up on the farm is one of the best things that has ever happened to us. Our mom, a National 4-H Beef Winner, passed her interest in agriculture to us and we hope to continue this legacy for years to come. The skills we learn by interacting with the animals on the farm will help us go throughout life. We learn responsibility and how to become good productive citizens.

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

Wingler1Growing up on the farm has allowed us to learn early in life that if you do what you love, invest your time and efforts in what you know, and work hard, great things will happen.

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

Our cousins, the Harts, and our parents have been our biggest role models in pursuing our farming aspirations.

What are you most passionate about in your business?

We think it is more important today, than ever before, to share with others what agriculture is all about. So many people are several generations removed from any participation on the farm, and we are passionate about showing them the value in our way of life. It is so important to share, either in person or online, our passion for agriculture with others.

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

One of the greatest challenges that we face today as young farmers is that it takes so many dollars now days to wake up each morning and farm. Because of this challenge, we just can’t do as much as we would like to do. Also, the to-do list grows longer each day due to weather conditions and unforeseen problems—making one feel like they are making no progress at all. On the other hand, living in the country is very important to us. We feel like this lifestyle allows you stay closer to God and nature because you see Him working through you and the animals. Doing our best to take care of the land and seeing a new calf nurse for the first time are two of our biggest joys.

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

Our dream for Cedar Forest Farm is to own some of the best cows in the Hereford Breed. We realize achieving this goal will take time and require a great blueprint but we know what we want to achieve. We will rely on the expertise of people who share our same Wingler4passion combined with our ability to twist together some of the best genetics in the industry. We are willing to make bold decisions to continue to move forward with our program.

How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?

We will continue to improve and grow our operation by purchasing and breeding the right genetics while allowing our customer base to reach new heights. We are just not satisfied with doing “average.” We want our registered and commercial breeders to report that our genetics produce superior results.

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

At Cedar Forest Farm, we intend to leave our footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee with satisfied customers. We truly believe that nothing speaks more loudly or boldly than satisfied customers.

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

Wingler 3Existing farmers could help future farmers, such as ourselves, by helping their fellow cattlemen grow better animals which will in turn contribute to our overall success. By honestly representing the genetics we market for the Hereford breed, farmers would be investing in consumer success while providing breeders a program. Additionally, existing farmers should be a champion for the rural lifestyle, its people, and its conservative ideologies as they go through life. They should work to ensure that the voice of Agriculture is heard and its interests served. We will strive to leave that same legacy at Cedar Forest Farm, too.

What is your favorite beef dish?

 Our favorite beef dish is none other than a good Certified Hereford Steak.

 

Farm Feature Friday: Aaron Loy of Jefferson County, Tennessee

By Melinda Perkins, TCA Intern

This week’s Farm Feature Friday may be young but he is wise beyond his years when it comes to the cattle industry. Aaron Loy from Jefferson County has taken many valuable things away from his time growing up on a beef cattle farm—including Kindergarten story time content and an appreciation for a good loan officer. In this week’s Farm Feature Friday, Aaron shares with us his practical and down to earth perspective on his operation and the cattle industry.

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

A: My great-great-grandfather, George P. Loy, purchased approximately 3,000 acres in the Loy4Rocky Valley area in 1867, and so began Loy Stock Farm. This was part of a larger land grant which resulted from the Civil War. Most of this land was lost during the Great Depression and my great-grandfather traded cattle to purchase some of it back.
Along with this, he also purchased additional land from outside the family during the 1940’s. Although my family began with a very diversified operation of crops and livestock, cattle have always remained our main commodity.

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

A: Today, my father and I farm approximately 600 acres with additional ground rented for hay and winter pasture. We normally stock around 180-200 mature commercial cows and retain 20-25 replacement heifers from each calf crop. Our commercial cows are mostly Angus/Hereford crosses which we breed to registered Angus or Hereford bulls. Our calving season falls between mid-October and late November. Through showing Horned Hereford cattle in 4-H, I began developing my own herd of registered cattle from which I aim to sell bulls each year. We only utilize outside labor for large jobs such as working or weaning calves. However, the “everyday jobs” are done by my father and myself.

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

A: While most kids were at daycare or with a babysitter, I was able to go out and “work” on the farm with my Dad and Grandfather. This allowed me to learn something new every day and develop an appreciation for the cattle business early in life. Experiences like castrating calves or palpating cows also provided great content for Kindergarten story time. Anytime my Grandfather asked what I wanted to be when I grew up my answer was always the same. I wanted to be a “cattleman”. Although individuals that don’t get the opportunity to grow up on a farm can and should appreciate agriculture, there is just something special about being raised in the industry and getting to farm every single day of your life.

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

Loy5
A: 
By far, my family’s greatest challenge to endure was my Grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease from 2010-2014. Not only was it a challenge to care for him while maintaining operations on the farm but also to see the disease take away his ability to do what he loved. He had been a cattleman his entire 84 years of life and truly loved it. My grandfather, G.W. Loy, built a life and career as a true stockman. I have heard many describe him as a premier cattleman who operated with honesty, integrity, and faith. There has certainly not been another person who has inspired me in life and in my career as much as he did.

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

A: If there was one thing I would like to convey to those disconnected from agriculture it would be that it isn’t 100% about the paycheck for the producers. Although producers want to earn a fair price for their products and a fair living, there is also a sense of responsibility to produce quality livestock regardless of how much profit it renders. Many producers, like myself, want to tell the story of agriculture in a way that consumers understand but don’t always have the platform to reach them. We must rely on organizations such as Farm Bureau and Tennessee Cattlemen’s to share our story.

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

A: Just like anyone else that works with family will tell you, it has its advantages and disadvantages. There will always be differences in opinions but in my situation, I trust that Dad has the experience to know better than me (most of the time) and hopefully he Loy1trusts that I can bring new ideas to the operation from time to time too. For the most part, we have been working together for so long we normally have the same train of thought.

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

A: If you have a serious desire to have a career in the cattle industry then don’t let time slip by without giving it a try. Never sit still. If you aren’t working, at least be thinking of ways to improve your operation. Perhaps most importantly keep a loan officer close to your heart.

Q: What’s your favorite beef dish?

A: It would definitely have to be a medium rare ribeye produced right here on the farm.