I’d like to introduce you to my BFF since the 1st grade – Julie Mo! We met when we were 6 years old and are still laughing and giggling all these years later! This was a picture of us when we were wrapping up High School. For the first time in our lives – we were separated. I went to Purdue and she went to University of Kentucky. We joined back up in Graduate School at the University of Illinois but then we have lived in different states ever since. Although we aren’t together on a daily basis, we still remain the best of friends today!
Julie and her family live in Columbia, Missouri! Julie and Justin both have a love of agriculture and are dedicated to raising their 3 daughters on the farm!
In addition to keeping up with these three, Justin works at the University of Missouri as the State Extension Specialist in Beef Cattle Nutrition. Julie owns her own bakery and let me tell you – she is one talented lady! She makes cakes and pies that are SO gorgeous you don’t want to eat them. But when you do – they are delicious! She is extremely gifted! Here are a few of Flour Girls Bakeshop creations:
Although they are normal people leading normal lives – chasing around after 3 kiddos, attending sporting events, going to 4-H activities with their girls, traveling here and there, going to work, running a business, etc. – these two have a passion toward agriculture that is inherent in the way they live and the way they spend their time! I recently had the chance to ask them some questions about Agriculture in Missouri and just why it’s so important to them…
Q: How did your family get interested in Beef cattle?
A: Never thought about it really. I grew up on a diversified livestock and crop farm. I liked working with the cattle more than the crops and really didn’t like the sheep. Went to UK where got interested in the “science” behind production. Now cattle are my job, business and hobby. Nearly my entire immediate family is involved in the cattle industry so cattle are a central part of daily life, (some suggest Holiday dinners are not much fun for the non-cattle group)!
Q: What can you tell us about beef production in the state of Missouri?
A: Missouri is the 3rd largest cow calf state in US behind Texas and Nebraska. Historically we were always second but with a large number of acres “marginally” suited to row crops and two years of drought cow numbers have dropped. Missouri is suited to cow-calf production due to the cool season forage base and shallow soils. Missouri gets 40 to 44 inches of rain a year which is why we do not have a large fed cattle industry, too muddy and humid. Missouri is suited to stocker or grazing cattle (500 to 800 lbs) production since we have abundant forage, livestock markets and are “between” the southeastern cow calf region and the feedlots in the northern plains. With KC and St Louis there are numerous feed by-products produced that can be used as cattle supplements. There are 54,000 beef producers in the state and beef cattle are on half of the farms in the state. Most of the cattle are located in the south central and southwest parts of the state.
Q: Justin, can you tell us about your family history and generations in agriculture?
A: My Grandpa Sexten was the first commercial livestock hauler in the state of Ohio, he bought the home farm which was originally an orchard, and began converting it to row crop land. He started the first U-pick orchard because they didn’t have time to manage both the orchard and the farm. Primary livestock enterprise was sheep. He used to feed 500 lambs every winter in addition to a ewe flock, hogs and cattle. Quit the hogs in 70’s like most everyone else.
Grandpa Woods was a Dairyman and row crop farmer. He was primarily crop production after getting out of the Dairy. His secondary business was engineer/mechanic, he was constantly building or making something to work better, restored tractors as well. He was a 4-H advisor for over 50 years.
Mom and Dad met in 4-H and my dad started farming as a freshman in high school. First purchase was a JD 4020 we still use today. Mom worked with us kids every morning and evening during the summer on 4-H projects. She ran the show barn, mostly sheep and cattle, showed one hog in 4-H. Kids were also active in FFA, or Father Farm Alone as my dad called it!
Q: Julie, what about you?
A: I grew up in a different sector of agriculture – the hardwood lumber business! My dad continues to operate a hardwood sawmill in Indiana. This industry faces many of the same challenges production agriculture faces such as weather, economic trends, social issues, etc.
Q: Justin, why should consumers choose beef to eat?
A: First reason is that it tastes great without a sauce! Sauces can add extra time to preparation and are often high in calories, fat and sodium. Second, beef is a nutrient dense food high in ZIP (zinc, iron and protein)
Q: Julie, what is your family’s favorite cut of beef?
A: Flat Iron – we like this cut because it has the taste, tenderness and ease of preparation like a steak but is very reasonably priced. We eat it right off the grill or also love it for fajitas. It also works beautifully in a crock pot if you need to do the preparation earlier in the day.
Q: When you think about your children, why do you want to raise them on a farm?
Justin A: Teach them responsibility, value of work and love of the outdoors. Build strong immune system! Farming is a daily exercise in problem solving and responsibility. Also help develop patience, I think.
Julie A: I want them to have a story to tell and to take pride in their work. It’s not beneficial to make life “easy” for kids because then you take away the self-confidence that comes from a job well done. I think kids raised on farms or in the country always want to come back home….no matter how far their careers take them away in the beginning.
Q: What do you enjoy most about production agriculture?
A: The people. Each industry and operation faces different challenges but in the end we are all trying to put food on tables. Helping people improve their beef operations is a fun rewarding job.