Member Profile: Stacie Cornell
Stacie Cornell is this month’s member profile. Stacie is a student at MSU Northern majoring in Agriculture Operations Technology with a minor in Ag Mechanics. She says her long-term goal is to take over the family ranch hear Havre. Stacy’s parents Don and Connie raise Angus cattle and Rambouillet sheep. Her sister Cattie lives in Havre with her family and helps the family during the branding and shearing season. Stacy said four years ago the family decided to go into organic farming because of the prices and the simple and natural technique of producing organic spring wheat.
In school Stacie said she particularly enjoys her Ag Tech Management and Tractors Class. Stacie became a member of Montana Farmers Union in 2019 after attending the Young Producer Conference in Havre. “I love coming to Montana Farmer’s Union conferences and watching the webinars and town halls that interest me, said Stacy. I like Farmers Union because of the people, they are so kind and welcoming, everything they do is very educational, and they support agriculture issues that I care about.”
Q, How has the Ag industry changed since you were a kid?
The Ag industry has changed a lot since I was a kid. I know in 2012, GMO food and plants became a big deal at the time because more people where conscious about the food they ate. In 2014 when Case IH rolled out their first robotic cab-less tractor I was in complete awe seeing that for the first time at fourteen years old and how much farming tractors have change compared to our farming tractors here on the ranch. I also remember at fourteen when NCBA introduced the Beef Quality Assurance program and how it became a big deal to become BQA certified. It still is a big deal today, especially when I first started college my professors encouraged all of us, ag students that where in livestock classes to become BQA certified because stress free cattle handling is best way to go, better meat quality and brings more bang for the producer’s buck bringing strong, healthy, and stress-free calves to the livestock auction block. As of today, it seems to me like stress free cattle handling, meat quality and handling is not enough for the livestock industry as we are facing the real threat of food security, fake meat and keeping meat facilities up and going because of an ongoing pandemic.
Q. How would you explain to someone with limited knowledge of agriculture what a rancher does?
One common practice of a cattle rancher is calving. In my way, I would have to be simplistic, yet in-depth about how a cow gives birth to a little baby calf, and that sometimes a cow can have a life-or-death situation in a natural birth process. Ranchers are trying to make the cow feel comfortable as she can be in the birthing process, but we are helping the calf move quickly and safely as possible by using calf pullers so that there is high survival rate for the cow and the calf. After we assist in a cow’s birth and clear the calf’s nose of birth fluid, we usually let the mom take care of the rest. We do periodic checks to make sure they are doing well. This is important because the cow needs to learn to accept the calf and a calf needs to accept the cow because she is the source of nutrition. We help with the bonding process and checking the calf to make sure he/she is healthy, standing up and going up to their mom and sucking her teat or udder of her milk bag. We do not give drugs or antibiotics to the calf unless they need it. And in that case only a 1 cc shot of penicillin. That amount is considered small and usually withdraws from the calf’s system throughout the week.
Q. There is a lot of miseducation around agriculture and what farmers/ranchers do to protect the environment. In what ways do you see ranchers being stewards of the land? Farmers are using the best farming practices to prevent ground source pollution by cleaning their sprayers away from the water hydrant at the house. Planting and fertilizing ten miles away from the house rather being 1 mile away from the house. Farmers are planting riparian areas to prevent non-source pollution to water streams, rivers, and other water ways. Ranchers as good conservationists because they are planting deep- rooted grass species in riparian areas to prevent the same pollution from happening,
They move their cows or other livestock back and forth from the riparian areas to other areas of the pasture to graze. People that say that cows are just destroying the earth with their Flatulence. That sentence is un-educated nonsense. It depends on the rancher’s management practices. If they are using multispecies grazing such as having cows and sheep together grazing in a pasture, they help improve the pasture by mowing the overgrown plant species, they’re hooves create an impression in the soil which hold nutrients and water in the area they step and so the livestock are not destroying the grass that way, they are letting more grass to be grown where they were at in the pasture.
Q. Are there any specific agriculture policies that are of interest to you? Agriculture policies that interest me are the ones specifically tailored to cattle or beef such as Country-of-Origin Labeling, unfair cattle markets, Green New Deal, and plant-based protein. I am recently, interested in the right-to-repair bill because of the stories I hear from my ag mechanic professor at college. It makes me scratch my head for a person like me taking a tractors class to be able to fix my tractor one day, but can’t figure out the problem for sure having to take the tractor to a dealership to have a tractor service technician plug in a computer to diagnose a small malfunction in a part that I could have bought and changed myself. Instead, I must spend $1500 to $50,000 for the part and the labor that the tractor service technician made to my tractor.
Q. Where do you think agriculture is headed in 5 to 10 years? I think agriculture might be headed in a positive direction especially for the farming industry. More crops will be planted for plant based protein. Plant-based protein will still be popular for the urban consumer who is conscious about the environment, but also doesn’t have a clue what farming or ranching is or where their plant based burger came from. I think animal agriculture will still be on a rocky road with imported meat and the fluctuation of the cattle markets. Meat production will slightly decline because of the demand for plant-based protein. I don’t think animal agriculture will go away. Ranchers stand together to wait out the storm caused by government regulation, animal activists and criticism from the food industry. American ranchers provide well-finished, grass fed U.S.A beef with no antibiotics in the cow’s bloodstream. Technology might change slightly for the livestock industry in a way that beef or sheep genetics will be critically enhanced as the world population grows in the next decade. Farm machinery will change dramatically as well with the advent of electric powered tractors. This is all because of the climate change plan and the net zero emissions goals for 2045. Electric powered farm machinery may be the new thing in the next five to ten years, but I do not know how many farmers or ranchers will be willing to buy this machinery because there may be a high cost.