Meet Giles County Beef Farmer Steve Scott
The Dirt on the Farm
Farm Family: Third-generation beef cattle farmer
Crops & Livestock: Hay and cattle Farm
Location: Elkton in Giles County
Farm Bureau Membership: He’s been a member for nearly 40 years
Q: Did you always dream of being a farmer?
A: It’s what I always wanted to be and still want to be. My dad bought me a cow with a heifer calf at 12 and that was my start in farming. I was the president of my FFA chapter my junior and senior years of high school and was in 4-H, too. It grew in me. I love the industry and the people in it.
Q: You have been involved in the cattle industry for a long time and held leadership positions. Why is that important?
A: I consider myself a small producer and feel like small producers need a voice, just like the producers who run 5,000 head or more. I continue to strive to be a voice and to help the industry.
I am president of my county Farm Bureau, on the executive board of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association and a board member on the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Everybody has a story to tell, no matter who it is. It doesn’t matter if you are a beef, dairy or row crop farmer. Everybody should be willing to stand up and tell their story, because so many people are generations removed from the farm and have no clue what we do, how we treat our animals, and how we take care of them. It is a responsibility we all have as producers – to tell our story. It’s one reason I am Farm Bureau proud because we have the opportunity to talk about what we do and why.
Q: What are your biggest challenges/blessings on the farm?
A: Urban sprawl is probably the biggest challenge and worry I have. Farms are being bought and split up; it is hard to hold on to land you rent because as generations pass away, family that inherits the land just wants to sell it, and you can’t compete with selling it by the acre when you want to farm it. You have to feed the masses and it is going to take land to do that, so we have to face that issue.
My biggest blessing was being raised by parents who came up during the Depression and knew what a dollar meant. I try to carry on a tradition they would be proud of. I’m also very thankful that when I was young, I got saved. Life is a journey and if you don’t have faith then farming isn’t for you. It’s a blessing to be part of this industry and in the leadership roles I’ve been in, to meet the people I have all across the country. I also feel blessed in what I have to pass on when I decide to retire. I don’t have children, so I will be the last generation to farm in this family. When I retire, my goal is to find a young person who wants to start farming and give them a leg up. I look to the youth for our future and want to see somebody who has the passion and desires to succeed in the industry I love.
Q: What is a day on the farm like?
A: I always start off in the morning checking the cows. I have 74 momma cows right now. I am building my herd by breeding horned Hereford bulls to 25 Red Angus cows and keeping the calves to breed back. I calve in the fall with a 90-day calving season and market my cows with Tennessee Livestock Producers. I am proud of my genetics and want to keep that hybrid vigor strong in my herd. I look for growth traits and a better all-around calf when I breed.
I also roll between 400 to 500 rolls of hay as well as custom roll for four neighbors, which ends up being another 300 to 400 rolls for them. In the fall I clean everything up on my land by bush hogging my fields and spraying my fencerows. I also custom bush hog for other people as well.
Q: You were pivotal in adding value to Tennessee cattle. How did all of that begin?
A: I was one of four producers in Giles County to start the Giles County Beef Marketing Alliance. We met with Farm Bureau and set up an agreement to sell through Tennessee Livestock Producers (a service company of theirs), and put together a set of genetics and vaccination programs we all agreed with. That was the beginning of what TLP’s statewide Alliance program is now. We wanted to capture all the market dollars we could. We began by going to Nebraska and obtaining Beef Quality Assurance certification in Nebraska so we could sell there. We brought two tractor-trailer loads that were sold successfully, and that was the beginning. I served the first two terms as president of the Alliance, helping put together the vaccination program, visiting every producer, and looking at their cattle to see if they fit or what they could do to improve. With Farm Bureau and TLP’s help, it was a perfect fit – a match made in heaven.
We set the program up so if your cattle didn’t fit the Alliance standards you could still be a part of the program, but had to sell your cows through the sale barn instead of the Alliance sale. That way everyone was taken care of. The first year we went from four producers to 30, and over the years it has just flourished. I am just pleased to know that I was a part of the original group. It is good for everybody to be able to market that many cattle together.