Apply for the Angus Foundation Talon Youth Education Learning Program Internship—As a Host or Intern

Applications for the educational summer internship are available.

Angus cattle in a pasture in Southeastern Georgia.If you’re looking for a unique summer internship experience, the Angus Foundation can help. Applications are still available for the Talon Youth Education Learning Program internship on the Angus Foundation website for host Angus breeders and Angus youth.

“The Talon internship program is truly one of a kind in the Angus industry,” says Milford Jenkins, Angus Foundation president. “It gives one lucky student the opportunity to experience ranch management first hand—an invaluable experience. Angus breeders get to work with an up and coming leader in the industry. It’s a win-win scenario for both.”

      Host Angus breeders get the opportunity to teach the intern about different areas of the Angus industry, from cattle showing and veterinary tasks to fence maintenance and irrigation and more. They also can expose the intern to educational events and activities off the farm, such as seminars, field days, etc. The Talon intern host Angus breeder application can be accessed here: Applications are due September 15.

College sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students and recent college graduates who are not older than 25 who have majored in an agriculture-related field are eligible to apply. Applicants must be in good standing with either the American Angus Association or the National Junior Angus Association (NJAS). Angus youth can apply for the Talon internship program at and submit an application by December 1 to the Events and Education department.

      The Talon Youth Education Learning Program internship is the legacy of Camron “Cam” Cooper of Talon Ranch. Cooper set up the Angus/Talon Youth Education Learning Program Endowment Fund in 2009 to be a holistic educational experience for students. The internship program pairs motivated Angus youth with working registered Angus breeders/ranches to provide youth valuable education and work experience for a summer. The internship program is open to college sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students and recent college graduates under age 25 who are majoring in an agricultural field of study.

      In 2017, Jessica Janssen, Fowler, Ind., was selected as the first Talon Youth Education Learning Program intern. She completed an internship with Maher Angus Ranch, Morristown, S.D. Janssen, a 12-year member of the NJAS and Indiana Junior Angus Association, is starting her senior year at Purdue University, where she’s pursuing an Animal Science degree to meet her career goal of becoming a beef nutritionist.

      For more information on the Angus Foundation, visit


Junior Leaders: Apply to Become the Angus Ambassador

Submit an application by September 15 to be considered for the NJAA ambassador position.

njaa_boardThe National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) is beginning its search for the next Angus Ambassador. It’s an elite position that provides an opportunity for a one-year term as spokesperson for the NJAA’s nearly 6,000 members, and connects with cattle producers, consumers and industry professionals nationwide. Applications are available online and must be submitted by Sept. 15.

“As the Angus Ambassador, one junior member is given the opportunity to take his or her passion for Angus cattle to the next level by networking with other Angus producers and beef industry professionals, and by traveling to and attending a variety of engaging events over the course of the year,” says Jaclyn Clark, American Angus Association Director of Events and Education.

Currently serving as the 2017 Angus Ambassador is Cassandra Garcia of Renton, Washington. Garcia is a student at the University of Washington Tacoma studying business marketing. She says she hopes that one day her education in the area of business will allow her to contribute to the “Business Breed” in a meaningful way.

“The ambassador program has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has given me the chance to expand my understanding of this industry”, says Garcia. “Whether it was networking at events, being that bridge between consumers and producers, or representing the Angus breed in the best way possible, it has helped me to grow as an individual in an industry that I love.”

The chosen Angus Ambassador will travel to the following events:

  • Angus Convention in Fort Worth, Texas (candidates);
  • Certified Angus Beef® Building Blocks Seminar in Wooster, Ohio;
  • NCBA Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.;
  • Beef Improvement Federation Annual Research Symposium and Convention in Loveland, Colorado; and
  • Guiding Outstanding Angus Leaders (GOAL) Conference in Canada.

Additonal and existing travel may vary based on the selected ambassador’s location, schedule, and availability.

To be eligible for the Angus Ambassador competition, applicants must be Association members in good standing, between the ages 17-20 as of Jan. 1, who own purebred Angus cattle. They must submit a cover letter, résumé, and two essay responses. Applications can be found online.

Garcia encourages all junior members to apply for the position: “We need strong leaders to represent our association. If you’re thinking about applying, go ahead and do it! I believe all NJAA members have what it takes to become the next great representative of our breed.”

All applications must be postmarked by Sept. 15 and sent to the Association’s Events and Education Department, 3201 Frederick Ave., Saint Joseph, MO 64506.

Once the applications are reviewed, five finalists will be invited to the Angus Convention to participate in the final round of competition, which includes an interview and formal presentation with a panel of judges. The new Angus Ambassador will be chosen at the Awards Recognition Breakfast on Nov. 6.

For more information, please visit the NJAA website at

Southeastern Farmer of the Year 2017

farmer of the yearAt Sugartree Farms near Belvidere, Tenn., Mike Robinson has built a successful family row crop and beef cattle farm. He also owns Sugartree Feeds, a store that adds value to some of his grain, hay and straw.

A farmer for 35 years, Robinson owns 1,108 acres and rents 2,350 acres. He grows corn on 1,200 acres, wheat on 420 acres and oats on 106 acres. He raises full season soybeans on 1,056 acres and double-cropped soybeans on 594 acres. He also raises 250 acres of hay, has about 200 acres in pasture and raises timber on 158 acres.

As a result of his success as a row crop and beef cattle producer, Robinson has been selected as the state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. He joins nine other individuals as finalists for the overall award that will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Sunbelt Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.

His cattle herd includes 125 cows, primarily Angus. The herd produced 120 calves last year that he sold at 600 pounds. The herd includes five registered Angus bulls. He increased his cattle numbers last year when he bought a new herd. He retains about 10% of his heifers as replacements.

Until 2004, he ran a dairy and milked Jersey cows. Robinson converted his milk barn into the feed store where he sells a portion of the farm’s corn and hay.

With last year’s corn yields at 180 bushels per acre for dryland and 230 bushels per acre for irrigated land, he placed third in both no-till irrigated and dryland categories of the National Corn Growers Association’s state yield contest.  He uses chicken litter to reduce fertilizer costs on some of his corn.

His full season soybeans yielded 55 bushels per acre and his doublecropped soybeans yielded 50 bushels per acre. His wheat produced 90 bushels per acre and his oats yielded 100 bushels per acre.

He also grows wheat for hay and straw, and rye for straw. His hay includes orchardgrass and a new alfalfa planting. One of his best tools is a Bale Bandit that can bundle 21 bales at a time, and is a big labor saver when handling and shipping hay and straw. He also adopted precision farming technology such as automated steering, yield monitoring and a sprayer system that prevents overlaps.

Robinson considers timber an important commodity, and uses a forestry consultant to determine when to cut trees. He recently sold red cedar logs to an Amish buyer for use in manufactured wood products.

“Marketing is important for my business,” says Robinson. He uses a marketing consultant and sells most of his grain directly to processors or end users, though some is sold at the farm feed store. Where crop share leases are involved, he often markets grain at local elevators.

He has about 225,000 bushels of grain storage, and stores about 190,000 bushels of corn, 30,000 bushels of soybeans and 5,000 bushels of wheat.

He sells about 27,000 bushels of corn and 12,000 small bales of hay at the store. He also mixes oats, corn, alfalfa and molasses to make feeds for cattle, goats and horses that he sells from the store. He even makes a special quail feed.

The store is also a retailer for Farm King equipment such as grain augers, grain vacuums, nitrogen applicators, tedders and disc mowers. Robinson sees the feed store and machinery dealership as businesses his children can operate while staying on the farm.

A spring storm blew off a portion of the roof at the feed store. That forced Robinson to move the store to the other end of the old dairy barn that turned out to be a better location for the store.

Robinson was young when he started farming. One of his first farm jobs as a child was stacking hay. His dad worked in a heating and air conditioning business and had a 35-acre farm on the side. “I milked a Jersey cow in high school, and sold milk to our neighbors,” says Robinson. “That led me to selling milk to another dairy farm and working for them.” He ended up buying the dairy he worked for.

He borrowed money from his grandfather, and bought 18 acres while in the 11th grade. “As a youth, I had a dream of being a full time farmer,” he says. “Today my wife and I are living our dream.”

Robinson occasionally provides custom farm work to neighboring farms. He has been adding irrigation, and plans to expand irrigation on a farm he bought with river access.

Robinson has been a 30-year Farm Bureau member. He served on the Franklin County Soil Conservation District board, and a Farm Credit advisory board. He was on the board of CFW Waste Management, a local group that promotes animal waste utilization while protecting the environment. He was a member of the Franklin County Livestock Association and a supporter of Farm-City activities.

He has been active in state Farm Bureau and the Cattlemen’s Association activities, and has attended Tennessee and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives meetings.  He has been an American Farm Bureau voting delegate and a member of the National Corn Growers Association.

Mike and his wife Krislyn have been active in Lexie Church of Christ where they help with youth activities. Krislyn is a former teacher and a big help on the farm, according to Mike. In high school she partnered with an uncle in raising hogs. “I wanted to marry a farmer, and I got one,” she says. Krislyn is active in Franklin County Farm Bureau Women, Farm-City activities and has been a supporter of Winchester Christian Academy and Riverside Christian Academy.

They have four children. Twin sons Tracy and Kary are young adults, and daughters KayLee and Callie Pearl are teens. In high school, the twins excelled in robot design competition, a skill that serves them well now on the farm. They’ve designed improved parts for the Bale Bandit and a feed bagging system for use at the store.

KayLee has been active in 4-H and runs sideline businesses selling eggs and raising sweet corn. This summer, KayLee is working at a veterinary clinic. Callie Pearl also is active in 4-H, sold rabbits she raised, helps sell eggs and also helps run the family’s Dachshund dog breeding sideline business. The twin boys started the dog breeding business and passed it on to their sisters.

KayLee also keeps horses for pleasure riding. The family also raises Halflingers, a small breed of draft horse that they occasionally use to till their garden.

Mike says he wouldn’t be surprised to see his sons and daughters someday significantly expand the family’s on-farm feed store.

Robert Burns with the Tennessee Cooperative Extension Service coordinates the Farmer of the Year award in the state. Robinson was nominated for the honor by C. Dallas Manning, Extension area farm management specialist.  “Mike and his family are excellent resource managers and they operate with little hired labor,” says Manning.

Ed Burns, Extension agent in Franklin County, Tenn., admires how Robinson’s family members are so supportive of the farm.

As the Tennessee state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, Robinson will now receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla., a $500 gift certificate from Southern States cooperative and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.

He is now eligible for the $15,000 cash prize that will go to the overall winner. Other prizes for the overall winner include the use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson North America, another $500 gift certificate from Southern States, a Columbia jacket from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply, a smoker-grill from Hays LTI and a Henry Golden Boy “American Farmer Tribute Edition” rifle from Reinke Irrigation.

Swisher International, through its Swisher Sweets cigar brand, and the Sunbelt Expo are sponsoring the Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards for the 28th consecutive year. Swisher has contributed some $1,080,000 in cash awards and other honors to southeastern farmers since the award was initiated in 1990.

Previous state winners from Tennessee include:  James R. Graham of Newport, 1990; Burl Ottinger of Parrottsville, 1991; Dwaine Peters of Madisonville, 1992; Edward Wilson of Cleveland, 1993; Bob Willis of Hillsboro, 1994; Bobby W. Vannatta of Bell Buckle, 1995; George McDonald of Riddleton, 1996; Jimmy Gaylord of Sharon, 1997; Jimmy Tosh of Henry, 1998; Eugene Pugh, Jr. of Halls, 1999; Harris Armour of Somerville, 2000; Malcolm Burchfiel of Newbern, 2001; Ed Rollins of Pulaski, 2002; John Smith of Puryear, 2003; Austin Anderson of Manchester, 2004; John Litz of Morristown, 2005; Bob Willis of Hillsboro, 2006; Grant Norwood of Paris, 2007; Jerry Ray of Tullahoma, 2008; Richard Atkinson of Belvidere, 2009; Brad Black of Vonore, 2010;  Mac Pate of Maryville, 2011; Steve Dixon of Estill Springs, 2012;  Richard Jameson of Brownsville, 2013; John Keller of Maryville, 2014; George Clay of Pelham, 2015; and James Haskew of South Pittsburg, 2016.

Tennessee has had two overall winners, Jimmy Tosh of Henry in 1998 and Bob Willis of Hillsboro in 2006.

A distinguished panel of judges will visit Robinson’s farm and the farms of the other nine state finalists during the week of Aug. 7-11. The judges this year include farmer Thomas Porter, Jr., of Concord, N.C., who was the overall winner in 2011; Charles Snipes, retired Mississippi Extension weed scientist from Greenville, Miss.; and beef cattle rancher Cary Lightsey of Lake Wales, Fla., who was the overall winner in 2009.

Farm Feature Friday: Higgins Farms

HigginsTCA intern, Samantha Reese, interviewed the Higgins family of Watertown about their farm. Contributors were John and Marna Higgins, and their children: Andy, Alison, and Amelia.

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

Our family has been raising cattle for centuries. My immediate family formerly raised commercial cattle. My parents started our Chiangus herd in 1986 with 10 replacement heifers.

Tell us about your farm today.

We currently raise and show Chiangus cattle. This year was our 15th consecutive Junior National Show. I am so proud of how far we have come with our show cattle and cowherd. When my brother was about 10 years old, he started showing cattle. I remember being so excited to win classes at Tennessee Beef Expo. Then it was the excitement of winning classes at Junior Nationals and then divisions at Junior Nationals. I never dreamed we would win banners at the North American International Livestock Exposition or Junior Nationals for several consecutive years. Looking back, I am so proud of how our herd and show string have evolved since those 10 replacement heifers, and I am even more proud to know that my family did this together.

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

My favorite part of growing up on the farm was all the time spent with my siblings. Now that we’ve all grown up and will all be moved out of our parents’ house by the end of the year, I sometimes reflect on all the time we’ve spent together at the barn growing up. This is my last year showing cattle, and reality has somewhat struck that we won’t all be together at the barn every day more

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

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice! No one wants to see you fail so most cattlemen will be more than happy to lend a hand or share some advice.

UT Bull Test Station Going to One Test

2013-10-BullTestwebThe University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Bull Test Station will only offer one performance test for the 2017-2018 year. The single, 84-day test will be for bulls born between September 1, 2016, and December 20, 2016. The deadline for nominations is August 1, 2017. Complete rules and regulations for the bull test can be found online at

The Bull Test Station is located at the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center at Spring Hill, Tennessee.

The bull test is open to any registered bull of any breed that has a performance record keeping program. Due to the latest technology in genomics, all bulls consigned to the program must be DNA tested. This technology provides a better estimate of the true genetic value of these bulls’ performance traits that are economically important in beef operations. The Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP) will offer an additional $400 cost share to buyers of bulls with Genomic Enhanced Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs).

Eligible bulls must be delivered to the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center on August 22, 2017. The 84-day test will begin on September 5, 2017. A bull sale will be held following the completion of the test. The date of the sale will be announced in the future.

The purpose of the Bull Testing Station is to provide a standard, impartial post-weaning gain test that will furnish records that will be useful in breeding programs.  The Station also provides a market for completely performance-tested bulls and serves as an educational tool for beef cattle improvement.

Farm Feature Friday: Duck River Farms



Especially now that they live in four different states, the Rowlett’s favorite place to gather is back on the farm they all call home in Hurricane Mills.

Buddy and Kelley Rowlett own and operate Duck River Farms, a small Angus seedstock operation in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Buddy and Kelley met through their involvement in youth livestock programs and have passed on their love for agriculture and raising cattle to their four children, who are the fourth generation to raise Registered Angus cattle on the family farm.


In addition to their commitment to their herd, Buddy and Kelley also work off the farm. Buddy travels throughout Tennessee and Kentucky as a Territory Manager for Stay-Tuff Fence Manufacturing, Kelley has built a career as an educator and school administrator, and the couple also own and operate a small local insurance company. Their children have also chosen career paths that keep them connected to their roots. Hannah, 26, and her husband, Adam McCall, live in Springfield, Missouri where their own operation, AM Livestock, is located and they raise and sell nationally competitive Charolais cattle. JanLee, 26, resides in Iowa and works for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association as the Government and Regulatory Affairs Manager and remains active in her family’s operation remotely by helping manage records and marketing. Lawson, 20, works for McCurry Angus Ranch in Burrton, Kansas and plans to carry on the family tradition with his own Angus herd within the next few years. Beau, 18, is at home to help with many of the day-to-day chores and is building a career in construction.



Lawson and Duck River Royal Lady 410 at the 2015 North American International Livestock Exhibition. This female is a daughter of one of Lawson’s first show heifers and is proving herself as quite the replacement for her legendary mother.

Duck River Farms’ history in the Angus breed began in 1934 when Kelley’s grandparents, Bob and Gould Woods, purchased their first Angus cows. Since then, black cows have continued to graze the banks of the Duck River. Today, we have about 50 head and focus on producing sound, moderate, low maintenance cattle. We market bulls, replacement heifers, and are beginning to sell show heifer prospects as our children’s days in the show ring are coming to a close.


We’ve always believed that there is no better place to raise a family than on a farm. Our favorite part of our family’s operation is the opportunity it gives us to work together doing something that we all love and celebrate the accomplishments, big and small, together.  We are extremely proud to have produced cattle that have been successful in the show ring and gone on to be productive females in our herd.  A couple of highlights for us have been raising females like Duck River Blackcap 714 who was selected as the National Western Stock Show Reserve Division Champion, Western National Angus Futurity Reserve Champion Female and National Junior Angus Show Reserve Division Champion, among other successes.  Additionally, Duck River Royal Lady 007 was named Eastern Regional Junior Angus Show Reserve Champion Bred and Owned Female and National Junior Angus Show Division Champion.



In her last two years as a junior member, JanLee served on the National Junior Angus Association Board of Directors and was Chairman of the Board in the second year of her term.

Though we have been fortunate to celebrate these successes and others as a family, everyone in production agriculture knows that there are difficult days that make those wins so sweet. We enjoy dreaming, planning, and working together as a family toward our common goals and would not trade our memories of life on the farm and showing cattle across the country through the last 20 years for anything in the world.


In China, Perdue Welcomes U.S. Beef back to Market


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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (center) ceremonially cuts into a Nebraska prime rib in Beijing, marking the return of U.S. beef to the Chinese market. Perdue is joined by Craig Uden (left), president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and Luan Richeng (right), of state-owned Chinese importer COFCO.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today joined with U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to slice a Nebraska prime rib in a Beijing ceremony, formally marking the return of U.S. beef to the Chinese market after a 13-year hiatus.  Perdue celebrated the reintroduction of American beef products to China after shipments were halted at the end of 2003.  The return of U.S. beef and beef products is a part of the U.S.-China 100-Day Action Plan announced by the Trump Administration on May 11, 2017, with the first shipment of U.S. beef arriving in China on June 19, 2017.


“Beef is a big deal in China and I’m convinced that when the Chinese people get a taste of U.S. beef, they’re going to want more of it. These products coming into China are safe, wholesome, and very delicious. This is also a good harbinger of the kind of relationship that can be developed. We hope there are other things we can cooperate on and we’re going to use U.S. beef as the forerunner.”

President Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, officials with the U.S. Trade Representative, and Secretary Perdue announced the deal brokered with China to allow the return of U.S. beef to China in May.  China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016. The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and in 2016 was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion.

Earlier in June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the final details of a protocol to allow American companies to begin shipping beef exports to China.  To date, producers and processors in Nebraska and Kansas are eligible to ship beef products to China, having followed the requirements set forth in the USDA Export Verification Program and according to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service export requirements.  USDA maintains a public list of companies that are eligible, and will continue to update it as more companies complete the export documentation requirements.

Also on Friday, Perdue held a series of meetings with Chinese government officials, including Vice Premier Wang Yang and Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu, to discuss expanding trade between the United States and China.

Following Friday’s events in Beijing, Perdue planned to travel Saturday to Shanghai where he will tour a major Chinese supermarket where other American products are offered.

Farm Feature Friday: Mayfield Angus Farm

By Samantha Reese

TCA intern, Samantha Reese, interviewed Will Mayfield of Mayfield Farm. Will and his family farm in Giles County, Tennessee and have Angus cattle. Will also recently attended the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference as the TCA/TBIC representative.

11752459_10103258522646385_5230760916761867148_nHow long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.

My family has been involved in the cattle industry for roughly 55 years and it all began with a small set of commercial dairy cattle that my grandparents had. Our Angus operation began with a pair of registered show heifers my father and his sister started with from Texas as they entered into their beef heifer projects in 4H.

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

These two females would be the foundation of our herd and the spark that started the passion of the cattle industry in our family.  As we sit today we are a third generation operation, however, it is from the generations prior were the foundation of hard work and the importance of family was instilled in us.

I have had the opportunity to see the initiation of life in a calf being born.  The opportunity to save the lives in cows having trouble during calving.  The opportunity to work hard and grow the food that feeds our population.  So, to place a favorite on any part of our operation or the life I have been allowed to lead would be impossible.  I’d say all of the different experiences I have been allowed, all of the people I have met, and all of the lessons I have learned would have to be what I feel has shaped my life.

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

I wish more people knew how much passion that those in the cattle business possess from the cow/calf producer to the feeders to the packers.  I also wish people knew of the intellect from one end to the other that these farmers and ranchers have.  They are business men, dietitians, engineers, doctors, policy experts, pastors, husbands, and fathers.

943996_10205486965562756_8216869102338971210_nWhat does it mean to you to be able to work with your family every day?

It’s certainly a privilege and an honor to work with my family every day.  We fight, we fuss, we learn from each other and we all grow together.

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

I would suggest to young producers to take every opportunity to learn as much as possible about the industry today, but also keep in mind the potential for changes and technological advances that will come down the pike in the future.

What’s your favorite beef dish?

I really enjoy a T-Bone steak.  It’s the best of both worlds.  The ribeye and the filet.

19060137_10105076290400235_8566242681532855601_nIs there anything else you can share with us?

I just had the opportunity to go on the Young Cattlemen’s Conference through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and it is amazing what they do for us as beef producers.  They work to educate our consumers, our politicians, and our youth.  They also work tirelessly with our politicians in Washington for our best interests.

Farm Feature Friday: Mill Creek Land & Cattle

tmiddletonTCA intern, Samantha Reese, interviewed Traci Middleton of Mill Creek Land & Cattle, located in Northwest Tennessee. It is a family owned, registered Brangus operation that has worked diligently to produce cattle that have the genetics to excel in the pasture and the phenotype to prevail in the show ring.


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

My parents had commercial cattle before I was born, and I bought my first herd in 1993 at nine years old. It evolved from those original commercial cows to a registered herd. I began to show cattle through 4-H and FFA and it continued to grow after that. I had the opportunity to serve as President of the International Junior Brangus Breeders Association and later on as President of the International Brangus Breeders Association.

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

Our operation consists of my parents (Rick and Teresa), Chris and me. We raise registered Brangus and Ultrablack cattle. We sell show heifers to youth exhibitors, bulls to commercial cattlemen, and market semen and embryos around the world. I most proud for the opportunity to market genetics globally. That is a huge challenge for a small operation. We are pretty proud to have raised and shown the 2016 International Grand Champion Bull at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. We also were recently awarded the 2016-17 International Brangus Breeders Association Show Sire of the Year.

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

Now as an adult, I am most thankful for the opportunity to have learned how to work hard. On a farm, there is always work to be done and at our house laziness was not tolerated. No handouts. No freebies. Everyone had to hustle, but I’ll be the first to tell you that hustling pays off!

CC17-9-9741What have been some of the trials you or your family has had to overcome?

As we transitioned from a 4-H and FFA project to a seedstock producer, I had to develop a market for commercial Brangus bulls in Tennessee. Commercial cattlemen in our area needed cleaner made bulls for our market with the ability to add heterosis and pounds at weaning time. We had the right kind of bulls. We just needed to get people to try them. Establishing a bull market was a challenge at first, but now we sell out each spring and fall.

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

It’s pretty simple – we care. We care about our livestock. We care about the safety of the product that we produce. We care about the responsibility and importance of our family feeding yours. Anyone that ever doubts how much we care needs a reality check!

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

I am sure that the appropriate answer is that we are close knit family and that we appreciate the opportunity to work alongside each other every day. Realistically, it means that some days we just don’t get everything done that was on the agenda! We have another family business as well and sometimes I wish my parents had given me a few siblings to share the workload with!

2016 international grand champion bullDo you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?

Find a good mentor and don’t chase fads. I grew up learning the ropes of the beef business under the guidance of one of the best cattlemen I have ever known, Joe Reznicek of Cow Creek Ranch. Of all that I was able to absorb from him, the most important was to never subscribe to the bull of the month club and fads leave as quickly as they come. I have seen it happen many times, especially to young cattlemen. It takes an enormous amount of time and money to correct that type of mistake. Develop a breeding program with purpose and an end goal in mind. A solid, efficient, and profitable cow herd is always “in style”.

What’s your favorite beef dish?

If I have to pick just one, it would be a ribeye!

Is there anything else you can share with us?

Our cattle operation is a family thing for us. It’s pretty cool to look back at where we started and where we are now. My driveway is directly across from parents’ with fields full of good cows in between. It doesn’t get much better than that!

UT AgResearch Center Opens August with Annual Field Day

Cattle Grazing webThe first day of August is the date for this year’s annual Steak and Potatoes Field Day sponsored by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. The event will once again showcase the research and outreach activities at UT’s Plateau AgResearch and Education Center.

The free event will be of interest to beef producers and those interested in large- and small-scale fruit and vegetable production. Three talks will also be presented for landowners interested in forest management.

The event begins with registration and a trade show at 8 a.m. CDT on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at the Center’s main unit just west of Crossville. Tours and seminars begin at 8:30 and conclude at 11:30. A sponsored lunch will be provided following the program.

The beef production presentations will address diverse topics including fescue-based management, summer annuals and cost share, drill and seeding recommendations as well as applying fertilizers to pastures using GPS. Stocking densities, herd management through artificial insemination (AI) and health protocols will also be discussed.

Four fruit and vegetable sessions will address variety selection; irrigation, beds and mulching; sprayer calibration; and disease diagnostics. Landowner talks will address firewise management and the choices required for managing for food, beauty or money. A talk on nuisance wildlife will also be presented.

Pesticide recertification points will be awarded to participants in need of continuing education to maintain their certification.

Contact the Center for more details about the event or to request an accommodation for accessibility by calling 931-484-0034.

The Plateau AgResearch Center is located off on Highway 70N at 320 Experiment Station Road in Crossville. A map to the facility and complete directions are available online at The Plateau AgResearch and Education Center is one of 10 outdoor laboratories located throughout the state as part of the UT AgResearch system.