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Dare to be a Herd Quitter

Jon and I had the awesome privilege of hearing Kit Pharo of Pharo Cattle Company speak last night in Sabetha, Kansas.  Kit is a producer of grass genetics seedstock in Colorado.  He using Black Angus, Red Angus and various other breeds and composites to produce his bulls.  And boy are his bulls great looking!  They are everything a good fertile bull should be.  Just take a look at his semen catalog.

Kit was also a great speaker.  His philosophy is "Dare to be a Herd Quitter".  His definition of a herd quitter is someone who goes against the herd mentality.  It's a person who doesn't follow the herd, but strikes his own path.  He is a great example of that.  His animals are low input, easy fleshing cattle who are being raised with little to no hay during the winters.  Not feeding hay to cattle in the winter is almost unthinkable to many cow/calf producers.  It can be done with good grass management and rotational grazing.  One of his points last night was how inputs are not getting any cheaper.  Oil, gas, and diesel prices are not coming down anytime soon, which also translates into higher prices for corn and hay.  Farmers are going to start going out of business soon if they can't find a way to lower their inputs and make a profit.

Another one of his points was the topic of innovation.  In every other industry besides farming, innovation is quickly adopted with 17-24 months.  In agriculture, innovation takes closer to 17-24 YEARS to be adopted.  As farmers, we need to do a better job of applying new research and innovation.  He also talked about the average age of a farmer.  Guess what?  It's close to mid 60s now.  That is scary.  Farming and agriculture are not doing a good enough job of getting young people interested.  I feel like farming is at a tipping point.  Small family farms have GOT to find a way to make money.  They also need to figure out a way to making farming more family friendly and sustainable.  We need young people interested in agriculture.  Young people my age are smart.  We want to have free time to enjoy our hobbies, vacations and families.  We want to be able to enjoy life AND work hard at a profession we love.  But too often, young people just hear the grumbles of older farmers who have been working hard for a long time with little to show for it.  If you aren't having fun and enjoying what you are doing, farming will quickly make you very miserable.     The farming community has got to figure out a way to keep the next generation interested.

Anyways, it was a great night and Jon and I really enjoyed ourselves.  Clara also enjoyed herself.  Apparently she decided that night was the right time to really show off her vocal skills and how loud she can shriek!  Many thanks to Phil and Linda Wertenberger of N-K Land and Cattle for hosting Kit!  They are PCC cooperative producers locally in Sabetha, Kansas and just plain great people. We are hoping to get back down there again soon to spend more time with them on their ranch.

It's so important for Jon and I to continue going to meetings like this.  It helps keep us focused and we always pick up on key points that help us to make decisions for the direction of our farm.  One discussion we've been having lately is our bull.  But I will let Jon elaborate about that!

Speaking of future farmers:

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