Tell us about your operation:
We have a 50-acre farm. We owned a small dairy farm for a while, but we have transitioned. Now we have sheep, goats and beef cows. We have been able to tap into a niche ethnic market with our meat goats and sheep.
What type of ethnic market do you work with?
We’ve had success with using our sheep for meat instead of wool. The wool market can get pretty fussy, but I’ve been trying to use fiber rabbits to tap into that market. We work with a Halal butcher in the Southern Tier of New York. Right now, we have about 28 head of sheep and it will double later this year. After the dairy farm, we get started with our sheep, goats and beef cattle to see what would work best. The sheep turned out to be the best fit for us.
You chair the policy development committee for your county Farm Bureau. What got you involved?
I never thought I’d be the type of person that would be involved in politics. But then I got involved in policy development. I started meeting my state representatives and county commissioners, and I found that I did know what they were talking about. I’ve seen items that we have pushed for become Farm Bureau policy. I’ve seen lawmakers listen. Being involved in Farm Bureau made me realize I have a voice, and I can make things happen.
What do you like about working membership?
As the membership chair for the county, I like letting them know about what we do. When I visit with prospective members, I marry policy development and membership. I ask them their concerns and frustrations. That is also where some of the policy development ideas have come from. For me, policy development and membership are one in the same. A lot of farmers lead busy lives, so the biggest message I tell is all that Farm Bureau is doing on their behalf.
I try to tell them that Farm Bureau is more than a discount. It takes people time to fully understand the strength of what we have to say and how much weight it carries.
What made you get involved in the Women’s Leadership Committee?
Women on the farm can do an awful lot more than bake cookies. We have some strong female leaders in our county, and they get involved when a need arises. Recently, I spent two hours looking at the issue of electronic recycling. There is no cohesive electronic recycling in our area, but there is a need. We are working to set up drop off locations in our county.
Are you optimistic about the future of agriculture?
Agriculture will always continue. I think people are seeing the value of family farms. They are seeing what smaller farms have to contribution. I think people will continue to support farms they can visit themselves.
Lastly, why are you a Farm Bureau member?
I am a member because it has opened so many doors for me. We became members because we had disagreements with policy and we joined to try and change it. The world is run by those who show up. We decided to show up. The only way to change how things look in the future is to do something about it.