Collin Miller, the focus of this week’s Meet the Future Monday, was born and raised in Christiana TN. When he is not at work or school, he is at one of his many board meetings, or on his own farm working. You can also find Collin down the road from his farm helping his mentor, Donald Jernigan with his large beef cattle operation. Jernigan has been the greatest mentor to Collin and has helped him learn and grow his operation since he started at 16 years old. Collin works at Rutherford Farmers’ Cooperative-Murfreesboro, as an Animal Health and Livestock Equipment Salesman. Additionally, Collin is an Agribusiness major at MTSU. Collin serves as President of Rutherford County Young Farmers & Ranchers, and President Rutherford County Cattlemen’s Association. Collin is also a Board Member of Rutherford County Farm Bureau, Rutherford County Agricultural Advisory Board, and Christiana Miller Cemetery (his family and community cemetery)
Q: How long has your family been farming?
A: Both sides of the family has been farming in some form as far back as I have found. The Miller’s first settled in what is now Christiana in 1796. After my 10 times great grandfather received a 1,000-acre land grant for service in the Revolutionary War, we have been farming on the land ever since. We own the last 40 acres of the original land grant. We operate part of our cow-calf operation here and the rest on a farm we own and lease in Bell Buckle TN. My family has farmed many different commodities from dairy, corn, wheat, hogs, tobacco, and now beef cattle.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?
A: I have always loved riding on the tractors as a kid. Being with my grandads on the farm is one of my best memories as a kid. Also working in the hay fields and checking on baby calves; I’ve loved it all.
Q: Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?
A: I have had many great role models in my life that I have been truly blessed with. I don’t think I can say I have just one. I have had three men in my life that have truly went above and beyond on teaching me and pushing me in my love of farming. My late grandfather Milton Wyatt Powell was one of the greatest supporters and teachers that I could have ever asked for. Donald Jernigan was the first to help set me up in my own operation. He has been a great teacher, mentor and friend to me. Marvin Whitworth has been a big inspiration to me in both farming and getting me involved in the community. All these men have helped me become the young farmer I am today. I have been truly blessed to have three great men guide me and educate me in this great profession.
Q: Describe your operation…(Breed(s), type of operation, acres etc.)
A: I run a primarily black angus cow-calf operation. I also will have several feeder steers throughout the year that I will raise and sell. I raise some hay on our farm as well.
Q: What are you most passionate about in your operation?
A: This is a profession that keeps me so close to God. To see what God has put on this earth for us as farmers to care for is a great blessing. From helping a mother give birth at 10 o’ clock at night to the cold, wet winters. I feel so blessed and honored to be one of God’s caretakers. Farming is my passion and I love it so much through the good and the bad.
Q: What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?
A: The land in and around Rutherford county is becoming less farm land and more residential and commercial land. The young farmers that want to buy land for their own can’t do it around here and farm it, because of the high property values. A farmer can’t afford to buy more land that’s priced at a developer’s price. The public is also so uneducated about our farming practices that it’s scary. They read the internet and let others tell them how bad farmers are to the animals and to the land. It’s time for us young farmers to stand up and be the voice of Agriculture. We must take a stand for what we live and breathe, otherwise the Agriculture industry will continue to be attacked and continue to dwindle.
Q: Where do you see yourself and your operation in 10 years?
A: I hope to have a 40 to 50 head cow-calf operation. I also hope to continue working for Tennessee Farmers Co-op in some capacity. I will continue to be a community leader and advocate for Agriculture.
Q: How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?
A: By buying better genetics in both my bulls and cows, I hope to raise calves that will bring top market value. In turn, I can bring in as much income from each calf and the buyers will be happy in getting a quality calf.
Q: How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?
A: By being involved in so many various Agriculture industry and community boards, I hope my opinion is taken and helps make changes. I try to help my customers at the Co-op make good health and nutrition decisions when buying products from us. If I can help get all the farmers on good health and nutrition protocols, then it will help them and the beef industry as a whole. When we sell healthy, well feed cattle, it not only helps the one selling, but it also helps us all. When Tennessee is known for higher quality cattle, buyers will pay a higher premium for them. I hope that when I retire, I can say that I have helped the beef industry and agriculture in Tennessee.
Q: What could the existing farmers do most to help young farmers such as yourself?
A: Take a young person under your wing that is trying to get started and help teach and guide them in the right path. The older existing farmers are retiring or passing away, and there are fewer young farmers to take their place. We need the knowledge and guidance from the existing farmers, so we can keep farming into the future.
Q: What is your favorite beef dish?
A: T-bone steak cooked to medium