Determination, hard working, and a clear vision of the future are just a few of the traits that Eli Dotson embodies. Eli has what it takes to be successful and chart his own path in the agriculture industry. In this week’s Meet the Future Monday, Eli shares with us his insight working in the cattle industry.
Describe your operation.
I live on a 218-acre farm in Petersburg, TN with my parents and brother. We have 60 head of Angus, Red Angus, and Commercial cattle. I have 10 head of my own and also have 20 market goats. I’ve shown cattle, market hogs and market goats.
What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?
The lessons you learn. I’ve found that things like always “shut the gate”, “yes, we do have to get up at 5 AM,” and “don’t chew your fingernails” translate into finish what you start, don’t be late, and you better think about consequences. When you’re a teenager those are skills necessary in academics, sports and business.
Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?
Well at my house I didn’t have a lot of choice. I don’t remember my first trip to the barn. In lots of families everybody does their own thing and goes their own direction. Livestock and the farm are what my family has always done together. So, I would have to say my family in general has been my biggest role model in pursuing my farming aspirations.
What are you most passionate about in your business?
My passion is livestock reproduction. I went to a Select Sires Artificial Insemination School when I was 15 and that was a great opportunity. Since then I’ve been breeding cows and I’ve started learning to pregnancy check. I’m hoping to gain more experience with that this summer.
What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?
I’ve been blessed because my family had the land, equipment etc. I think it would be difficult for someone to start from scratch. Overall, it’s hard to predict income and make money because the market is so up and down. I would love to breed cows for the public but everyone isn’t comfortable with a 16-year-old breeding their cows. Maybe farmers will read this article and call me.
Where do you see yourself and your operation in 10 years?
Working in some aspect of livestock production or sales. Something where you talk to and meet lots of people because I love to meet and talk to people.
How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?
I think improving any livestock operation is about improving genetics and working with a goal in mind. You must make data informed decisions while looking at genotype and phenotype. I think livestock can be functional and attractive at the same time
How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?
I think my generation must be willing to step into the leadership roles across the state and country that are going to become our generations responsibility. We will have to do it with greater balance between government regulation, efficiency and the environment than any other generation before us. It won’t be easy.
What could the existing farmers do most to help future farmers such as yourself?
I would say give us a chance to have agricultural experiences. They should find kids in their communities and lease them a heifer and let them keep it on the farmer’s farm. They should hire a kid with no background but a lot of desire to work on their farm. They could always have me come breed their cows.
What is your favorite beef dish?
Steak, rare ribeye with no sauce because it ruins the meat.