Virginia cattle industry sees local, global changeover

AFP Correspondent

ROSEDALE, Va. (July 18, 2017) — The Virginia Cattlemen’s Association welcomed about 800 people to its field day on the Stuart Land and Cattle Company on July 7.
Tours of the nation’s oldest beef cattle farm continously operated by the same family were followed by lunch and talk of change both locally and globally.
Lynda Stuart, who has served as general manager of the farm since the death of her husband, Zan Stuart, welcomed the group gathered in a huge hoop barn at the Rosedale Farm, headquarters of three farms operated by the company in Russell and Tazewell counties in Southwest Virginia.
During her remarks she expressed gratitude to all who had helped make the day possible and surprised the crowd with a personal announcement.
“I love what I am doing but I have decided it’s time to quit,” she said. She did not share details of her stepping down or tell who her successor will be.
Sandy Stuart, Zan’s son, outlined the history of the farm and the cattle industry for visitors from the time King George III granted the land to his family’s ancestor in 1774.
He linked the development of beef cattle as important to the nation with the wars the United States has fought and the demands the military had for beef.
He detailed the struggles of the family during the Great Depression when beef was three cents a pound on through the present structure of the business.
The company operates three farms totaling 16,000 acres.
There is the Rich Mountain Farm, Clifton Farm and Rosedale Farm.
School bus tours with guides were given of the 7,000-acre Clifton Farm.
Craig Uden, president of the National Cattle Beef Association, just back from delivering a shipment of beef to China, told the group it is vitally import for cattle producers to be members of the local and state cattlemen’s associations and to support NCBA.
“Things are changing,” Uden said, “and I mean changing fast.
“We have been on the defensive for the last 10 years. Now we are on the offensive.”
The Nebraska cattleman stressed that trade is vital and told of meeting with the Chinese last summer.
He has also hosted Chinese visitors to Nebraska.
“There is a huge opportunity over there,” he said. “Trade is such a delicate thing. We have to have relationships. We have to be very delicate.”
Uden also noted that South Korea and Japan are important to the beef industry.
Jennifer Houston, NCBA vice president, discussed how to talk about beef with millennials. She said this generation of peole 15 to 30 years of age understands the word “sustainable” differently from farmers.
The beef industry needs to stress the positives of eating beef, she said.
Presentations of the association’s awards was a highlight of the afternoon program.
Phillip Bundy of Russell County was named 2017 VC Producer of the year and Steve Hopkins of Louisa County was presented the 2017 VCA Industry Service Award.
VCA reported that Bundy operates an exceptional Angus based commercial cattle herd in the Green Valley section of the county.
He is also recognized as a leader and innovator through the Abingdon Feeder Cattle Association.
“He has been involved in the cattle business since childhood, going to check on steers with his dad,” Scott Jessee, Russell County Extension agent, wrote in his nomination of Bundy. “Phillip and Sue Bundy operate Bundy Farms in the Green Valley Section of Russell County.”
Hopkins who was honored with the 2017 VCA Industry Service Award was also honored by Virginia Tech’s Alumni Association with the 2016 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension.
“Steve recently retired from Virginia Cooperative Extension, Tracy Fix of VCA reported. “He has had a long and distinguished career in service to the Virginia beef cattle industry.
He has served as VCA president and spearheaded many efforts to improve added value marketing opportunities for feeder cattle.”
Fix said the he business meeting held later in the day highlighted a successful 2016 for VCA including continued growth in membership, increased added value through participation in the Virginia Quality
Assured feeder cattle marketing program and a successful past General Assembly Session for Virginia beef cattle producers.