Young Ranchers Meet in Wyoming!

Ranch Management Consultants, with an acknowledged huge amount of other support, hosted 48 youth from 17 states in Sheridan, Wyoming for 4 days!  If even half those become true ranchers and not serfs on the land, the livestock industry will be in good shape.  However, given the financial/investment outlook in our country, none (unless they are already incredibly wealth) will be able to build a legacy.  Our economy has been moving in this direction for years, but is now accelerating into something unrecognizable.  Too bad.

young ranchersLast week, in partnership with Wally Olson and the Plank Stewardship Initiative, we hosted the first ever Young Adult Ranching for Profit Workshop. We had 48 youth from 17 states in Sheridan, Wyoming for an incredible four days! The energy, enthusiasm, and passion these young people have for ranching and agriculture was contagious. Several times during the week the instructors and I caught ourselves in awe of the group that was assembled. Just thinking of the amazing things they will accomplish, gets us excited for the future. The format of the days involved morning discussions on topics ranging from economics, grazing, to succession. Then we grabbed a sack lunch and headed for the ranch tour that made up the afternoon. We were able to visit three amazing and welcoming ranches where at each stop, we found hands-on activities and intense discussions with management. The workshop ended with participants having small group meetings where they offered peer advice and developed action plans for moving forward. This multi-day workshop wasn’t something we at RMC could do alone. Enormous thanks goes out to the partners, instructors, and hosting ranches. We anticipate making the Young Adult Ranching for Profit Workshop an annual event.

One thing that became clear to me was that these young people are eager to take on additional responsibility and assume a more prominent role in the businesses they are involved with. It is easy for Junior to say “get out the way…. I’m ready to run this!” but it is significantly more difficult for the seasoned manager with battle scars of past mistakes, to know when and how much control to relinquish. At the Ranching for Profit School, we teach the importance of developing clear expectations for each position in your operation. Stephen Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People expands on that with the DR GRAC acronym of Desired Results, Guidelines, Accountability, and Consequences as a thorough way to delegate important tasks. If Junior is going to take over the grazing planning what are the results and specific targets we need to achieve? It should be written down how and when we are going to measure these. Targets for the grazing manager might be:

  • Every pasture has a monitoring transect by 2022-monitoring report due Nov 1
  • 75% cover by perennial plants- monitoring report due Nov 1
  • Decreasing bare ground- monitoring report due Nov 1
  • SDA/1” precip reported monthly- Monthly WOTB meeting
  • Target rest periods achieved 90% of the time- Grazing Plan reviewed Dec 1

If Junior wants more responsibility, then management should identify where the business is currently failing to produce the desired results. From there you can develop a shared understanding of what a quality result for the business would look like. Junior might need some support on how to be successful in creating these desired results. Maybe there is a neighbor that has this figured out, that Junior can talk with or perhaps there is a class or training on the subject that they can attend. Writing down the guidelines and deadlines for this task on a flip chart and taking a picture of it will help everyone remember the agreements next time the subject comes up.

I don’t buy it when I hear that no young people want to be involved in agriculture. After spending four days with 48 youngsters pulling at the bit, ready for a shot, you wouldn’t either. Those of us in the leadership roles need to create opportunities for them to develop themselves into the people they can become.

One Response to “The Next Generation of Passionate Ranchers”

June 10, 2020 at 2:58 pmMark Hollenbeck said:

You are going to be challenged to meet the demand for this school. There is just nothing for young people that want something real dealing with ranching.

Just A Bit of Cleanup

On Jun 6 a year ago, daughter, Jessica took me to a manicurist in Chillicothe because my hands and nails were a disaster and my son was to be married in a couple days.  We walked in and i sat down – the young girl took one look at my hands and commented ‘you must be a farmer.’  no exclamation, no criticism intended — just stated as a matter of fact what she saw.  Nevertheless, she commenced to work magic on my hands and nails in time for a very important day in my life – the marriage of my youngest to a wonderful new daughter.  

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My typical look – farm hands.
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And after a fair bit of scubbing and polishing. (And, yes, i did that by myself!)

Moving a Protein Tub

These supplemental protein/energy tubs for cattle are 200 lbs!  Obviously, i can’t pick it up to move as i shift cattle to new paddocks.  Here’s my solution using stuff found around the farm.

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Even half eaten, it will weigh over 100 lbs.  Although i can tip it on the side and roll it onto the sled, I found that i can just leave the sled under the tub; the cattle don’t tear it up.  I just hook on and move.  The black plastic is old plastic from a destroyed bunk feeder, the white pipe is actually the G2 plastic post from Powerflex Fence which i cut to length.  
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Full, these weigh 200 lbs.  Leaving the sled under the tub means just hooking on and going.  No more tipping, lifting, rolling, and handling in general.  The older i get, the more important this is.  In fact, i design my work around my bad back, hips, shoulder.
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When done,  very lightweight for easy pick up and storage.

 

Corn Meal Experiment

 

I purchased this open pollinated corn seed from Welter’s Seed with the intent of actually planting it and harvesting a large crop.  However, the reality is, i don’t have a corn planter and no one to plant a small plot, so now to find a use for these seeds.  I decided we needed to eat them.

Reid Yellow Dent Open Pollinated Corn
Reid Yellow Dent Open Pollinated Corn
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It’s just ridiculous some of the things i try.  Here you can see i have to pregrind the corn because i only have a flour mill.  The corn seeds are  much too large to go through the mill.  So, into the Ninja Magic Bullet first, then to the grinder.  I set the mill on fine, so i’ve ended up with more like corn flour instead of corn meal.  
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Pre Ground corn seeds into my flour mill.  As you can see, the corn won’t flow and bridges as it enters the grinding.  So, i had to stay by to keep it poked down.  This was a long and slow process.

Food System is Broken

Here, Joel is describing a legislative action in his state which might help consumers and producers both.  Other states have already stepped up to make these changes.  But, the back story as to why it is needed is the interesting part of his story here.

Self ascribed ‘Lunatic Farmer’, Joel Salatin, is a gifted speaker, writer, and farmer.  He and his family operate Polyface Farms in Virginia.  His blog is a fascinating and helpful insight into the difficulties farmers and ranchers of small holdings face.  During this time of renewed interest of purchasing locally from local abattoir, I’m going to reblog those of his which address why local butcher shops and farmers do what they do and charge what they charge.  I hope the series will be helpful.  However, we are realists and know that once the huge foreign owned packers are back up and running, consumers will be back at Wal-mart buying cheap imported meat processed, in some cases, by illegal aliens.

The comments are worth reading as well, but you’ll need to click through to his blog site.

 

PRIME ACT NOW

            Yesterday I did a podcast with Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie on Free the People and the discussion turned to his 5-year-old bill the Prime Act.  It has not gotten traction until now.  In the last ten days, he’s picked up 18 co-sponsors.  That’s pretty dramatic for a bill that couldn’t get a handful for 5 years.

             People want to know what to do that would be beneficial during these disturbing times.  Here is something you can do.  Call your Congressman today–yes, just pick up the phone and call–and ask if he/she supports the Prime Act.  This simple bill would unleash the full power of regional food security on the livestock sector, which you know is in complete disarray right now.

             When CEO and legacy family member John Tyson looks at a CNN camera and says “the food system is broken,” that’s a big hairy deal.  He and his ilk have spent their lifetimes creating this system that now can’t get burgers to Wendy’s and is foaming chickens, breaking broiler eggs, dumping milk, and euthanizing hogs.  So imagine that rather than 100 mega-processing facilities around the country handling 80 percent of the meat, poultry, and dairy, we had 200,000 small facilities scattered all over, distanced, if you will, doing this processing?

             That is where the Prime Act comes in.  Right now, custom slaughter houses that do beef, pork, and lamb are under health department and USDA sanitation oversight, but they do not have an inspector or the inspector’s paperwork on site.  These abattoirs service a person who brings in a live animal and wants it custom processed, like if you wanted to commission a woodworker to make a special table for your dining room.  Without all the onerous inspection paperwork and under-foot bureaucrats, these smaller community-based abattoirs can operate easier and cheaper.

             Inspection requires a host of additional licensing, infrastructure, paperwork (Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point), bathrooms, inspector offices, and even prescribed hours of operation.  Minimal compliance to get a license, even for the smallest plant, is estimated at an average $1 million.  That’s a high entry fee.

             As a result, right now in most counties, including mine (Augusta) you cannot raise a cow and legally sell a pound of ground beef from that animal to a neighbor without exporting it to another county with an inspected facility and re-importing it.  But our county has a couple of operating small custom abattoirs within minutes of our local farms.  We used to have a dozen when I was a kid.  They can’t legally sell you a pound of ground beef; you have to buy at least a quarter of beef at a time.  That’s a $500 entry fee to buy local.

             The Prime Act simply says that custom slaughtered meat can be sold within the state.  Why should everyone who wants to get neighborhood raised and processed meat be required to buy it in $500 increments?  What if a neighbor only wants  T-bone and a pound of ground?  What if the neighbor doesn’t have a chest freezer?  The current regulations are both price and poverty discriminatory.  In addition, they force massive unnecessary transportation energy and time.

             What about food safety?  Folks, recalls come from the big plants, not these small custom places.  A burger patty at McDonald’s has pieces of 600 cows in it; a burger patty from a custom house has only one cow in it.  The risks are exponentially less in a smaller, community-based facility.  Scale exemptions exist throughout our country, from day care to elder care to requirements to provide medical insurance to employees.  Scale does matter.

             Congressman Massie told me yesterday that many former operators of these small facilities have assured him that the day the Prime Act passes, they will re-open their doors and gladly solve the processing bottleneck in our broken food system.  Few legislative initiatives could offer a more simple, comprehensive assurance of food security and marketplace competition to the 100 mega-processors that dominate our dysfunctional food chain.  It’s the Prime Act.  Massie says don’t email and don’t write a letter.  Call; he says if 12 people call on a subject, they own their congressman on that issue.

             Will you be part of the solution?

Surprise Marketing Strategy

The self ascribed ‘Lunatic Farmer’, Joel Salatin, is a gifted speaker, writer, and farmer.  He and his family operate Polyface Farms in Virginia.  His blog is a fascinating and helpful insight into the difficulties farmers and ranchers of small holdings face.  During this time of renewed interest of purchasing locally from local abattoir, I’m going to reblog those of his which address why local butcher shops and farmers do what they do and charge what they charge.  I hope the series will be helpful.  However, we are realists and know that, by and large, once the huge foreign owned packers are back up and running, consumers will be back at Wal-mart buying cheap imported meat processed, in some cases, by illegal aliens.

The comments are worth reading as well, but you’ll need to click through to his blog site.

BEST MARKETING PLAN EVER

             Like local-oriented direct-market farms around the country, we’re dealing with a tsunami of  interest.  Suddenly everyone wants our meat, poultry, and eggs.  Where were they last year and the year before?

             For roughly 3 years we’ve been brainstorming and trying to hold onto sales.  The biggest hit we’ve ever taken was when Wal-Mart became the world’s largest vendor of organic.  Of course, this is industrial organics; produce from hydroponics and meat from factory farms.  But organic nonetheless.

             Ever since that happened half a dozen years ago local outfits like us have been scrambling to hang onto customers.  We haven’t panicked, but the new reality shocked us into realizing we could lose everything if we didn’t stimulate sales.  And then along came door-to-door delivery.  Another hit.

             Many people think here at Polyface all we do is move cows around and the world is our oyster.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  When we started this 50 years ago, we were the only game in town.  We enjoyed that distinctiveness for about 30 years but gradually things changed.

             Other farmers began duplicating our systems–not that we tried to keep them secret.  Good grief; I wrote every trick into books and made them available to wanna-bes.  Even many apprentices stayed in the area and began competing with us.  Between more farmers, industrial organics at Wal-Mart, and on-line home-delivery, we realized we were fast becoming obsolete.

             Now we’re laughing.  How could we have known that the best marketing strategy in the world was a pandemic?  If only we had known.  Just hang in there until the pandemic and all will be well.

             Now, for the first time in a decade, we’re rationing.  Yes, rationing.  The temptations to compromise are profound.  If you’ve watched the news, you know what’s happened in the pork industry.  A farmer called us yesterday offering us slaughter-weight pigs at $110 apiece.  Folks, it costs us $500 to raise a hog.   Do you see the temptation to buy them and turn a fancy profit in a day?  But they weren’t raised on GMO-free feed; they weren’t raised on pasture; they weren’t the 1950s-style genetics that put taste and fat on a hog.  We said no, of course.

             Instead of pulling our hair out on marketing strategies, we’re wrestling with who gets what.  If you let a retail store have eggs and don’t put them on line people think you’re playing favorites.  Goodness, Teresa went out this morning to grab a package of link sausage to fix for breakfast and had to make grits instead–we don’t have enough sausage for our own breakfast.

             Why should all these people suddenly flocking to us get product over the folks who have been with us for 20 years?  If we shut down a sector of our patron base, will they ever come back to us?  How fickle is this?  After the hype and panic, will all these Johnny-come-latelies stick around, or will they go back to Costco?

             We can’t expand beef unless we have more grass.  We can’t get more grass without more land.  We can’t get more land without farms to rent.  We can’t rent more land without land lords who want to partner with us.  No complaints here; just explaining that you can’t turn a biological system, a whole ecology, on a dime.

             And so as we ration and meter out pieces of availability to our broad customer base, we’re dealing with frantic calls, accusations of favoritism, and the angst of people fearful of running out of food.  And you can’t buy a home freezer until August–they’ve all been snarfed up by the folks who stocked up early.  If anyone wants to buy farm property to secure their food supply, we’re open for partners.  We’ve had some wonderful response to this in the past; who knows what the future holds.

             Do you think this sudden interest in local integrity food will outlast the crisis?

MEAT SCARCITY AND OVERTIME

            By now all of us are well aware about the glitches in the meat and poultry processing food chain in the U.S.  It’s severe enough in pork and poultry that animals are being euthanized rather than going to processing.  Beef will probably not get to that point simply because beef grows slower and therefore has more forgiveness.  A month of holding pattern for a chicken is a long time; for a beef it’s not that long.

             As a result of these industry problems, the crush on smaller community-based abattoirs like the one Teresa and I co-own here in Harrisonburg (T&E Meats) is unprecedented.  With our facilities and crew we can only handle a certain number of animals per week and when the slots are filled, they’re filled.  We’ve had a sudden surge of perhaps 30-40 percent in slot requests.  Even Polyface can’t get in with all the animals we need processed; then we’re short and customers complain.  Sheesh.

             We’ve never run Saturday work or a second shift, but we’re examining all those alternatives now to squeeze some more use out of our concrete, stainless steel, and building.

             Hang with me here, because this will no doubt infuriate you like it does me.  Our small plant of about 20 employees is located on a roughly 1.5 acre lot surrounded by other small businesses.  It’s been on that lot for some 70 years.  We’re federal inspected which means an inspector pokes and sniffs at livers and looks over paperwork each day.

             The inspector has an office in the building to keep records but he’s only there less than an hour a day.  He goes to other plants during the day.  Of course, he has the right to pop in any time he wants to and see anything he wants to.  He also has the right to immediately shut us down if he sees egregious violations of his interpretation of the voluminous subjective codes.

             The way the system works is this:  if a plant owner passes all the compliance and licensing requirements, the federal government issues an establishment number which authorizes the facility to engage in business.  The stamp is called the “Blue Buzz” and it’s the little round blue circle on all federal inspected product that carries the FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) acronym and establishment number.  That license also requires the federal government to supply, at no charge, an inspector for up to 8 hours per day.

             If you need one for more than 8 hours per day, then the business and not the government picks up the tab at a time and half rate for every hour more than 8.  What you have to appreciate is that in the case of a small plant like ours, the inspector is actually only on site an hour a day and sometimes less.  He or she is not there on location for 8 hours; not anywhere close.

             But here’s the catch.  As we begin discussing running on Saturday or operating for an extra couple of hours to try to accommodate more of these local farmers who desperately need animals processed, the government requires us to pay a time and half inspector rate for every hour we OPERATE more than 8 hours, regardless of whether an inspector is there or not.

             The inspector shows up each day, checks things, and then leaves.  Why can’t that check be good for 10 hours instead of 8?  Or for 12 hours instead of 8?  He’s not there anyway, so if the system trusts us not  to cut corners in the 6th hour of an 8 hour shift,  why would it be suddenly risky for us to operate another 15 minutes past 8 hours?  It makes no sense whatsoever, but it definitely changes our economic picture dramatically the moment we have to pay $75 an hour for someone who isn’t even there.

             This is the kind of foolishness foisted upon local abattoirs by a scale-prejudicial system that refuses to accommodate or budge in order to alleviate the desperate need of people for food and farmers to get it to them.  This is accounting by the government.

             Is it time to build an underground railroad for processing?

Thank your Kate Simon for the photo!

Fast Food Believers!

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.  2 Timothy 3:16

because “All flesh is as grass, And all he glory of man as the flower of the grass.  The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”  1 Peter 1:24-25

What Scripture do you question?  what Scripture have you been told no longer applies?  How does that jive with the above Scriptures?

FAST FOOD BELIEVERS – by Torah Family (Steve Moutria)

 

Shabbat Shalom!!!

Faith, Family, Farm

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