June 23, 2017
By Debra Davis
Top: Mickey and Kim Seymore at Heritage Hill Farms in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. Botton: Martin Yahner of Yahner Brothers Farms in Patton, Pennsylvania talks to Federation members touring his farm Thursday. Yahner's farm was one of 21 stops on the weeklong beef tour in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania beef farmers are more like those in Alabama than Mickey Seymore of Arley ever imagined. He and his wife Kim were among 41 Alabama Farmers Federation members who participated in the Pennsylvania Beef Tour June 19-23.
"We came on the tour because we wanted to learn more about the beef industry and how we can grow our farm," said Mickey, who owns Rock Creek Cattle & Grain in east Winston County. "This was our first beef tour, and we were very impressed with what we've been able to learn in just a few days. We found a lot of things I think we're going to try on our farm. Pennsylvania beef farmers do a great job utilizing the forages they grow, and I think I'm going to change some of what we do to make the most of the grazing we have on our farm."
Among the tour stops was Yahner Brothers Farm, owned by Martin and Rick Yahner, in Patton, Pennsylvania. It's a sixth-generation farm about 80 miles east of Pittsburg where they raise corn, oats, wheat, hay and soybeans. The brothers purchase 500 steers annually, and using the crops they've raised, feed the calves until harvest.
"Hosting tours like this is important," said Yahner, who took time out from cutting hay and preparing for wheat harvest to host the Alabama group. "It's good to go visit other regions of the country to see what farmers there are doing. We all have similar problems – whether it's the weather, crop prices or government regulations. We can learn a lot from each other, but we also find we have a lot in common. It's a good opportunity to network."
Other farms were smaller and featured direct marketing of beef. That was particularly interesting to the Seymores who have a cow-calf beef farm with 50 mature cows.
"Most of the farms we saw were family farms where the whole family pitches in to get everything done," Kim said. "We also saw things like finishing steers, rotational grazing, feeding plans and ways to market our farm-raised beef locally. We are really interested in possibly developing a local market for the beef we raise."
Learning new ideas and expanding potential markets are some of benefits members can learn from the beef tour, which included more than 20 stops in five days, said Federation Beef Director Nate Jaeger, who organized the tour.
"My goal is to bring our members together with other cattlemen so they can learn something that will increase profits on their farms," Jaeger said. "We keep an aggressive schedule on the tour, visiting as many farms and ranches as possible, but we try to include some interesting non-cattle stops like the Flight 93 Memorial and other significant cultural and geographical sites."
Next year's beef tour to Texas will be in late spring.