| TSLN.com

Nebraska ag producers pay nearly 50 percent more than the national average in property taxes

Nobody likes taxes, but Nebraska farmers and ranchers have even more to dislike than many others around the country.

According to a study by J. David Aiken, Nebraska agriculture property taxes are among the highest in the United States. Over the last three years, Nebraska farmers and ranchers have paid nearly 31 percent of their net farm income as property taxes (47 percent in 2017). Aiken, an agriculture and Water Law Specialist Department with the agricultural Economics University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that when state and federal taxes are factored in, this represents an effective tax rate of more than 50 percent (over 60 percent in 2017.) Nebraska property taxes on agricultural land as a percentage of net farm income are 146 percent of the United States average (1950-2017 data). The twenty year average is 150 percent, the ten year average is 147 percent, the five year average is 164 percent and the three year average is 188 percent. Property taxes are the single largest tax paid in Nebraska accounting for 38 percent of total state and local tax collections.

The study revealed that sales taxes make up 29 percent of total taxes, and income taxes are 26 percent. Sixty percent of property taxes go to K-12 education funding. All property taxes fund local government—cities, counties, and local school districts. All income taxes and 84 percent of sales taxes are used to fund the state government. Currently with high ag land values across the state, 85 percent of state aid goes to non-agricultural areas and 15 percent is distributed across the board to all school districts. Two-thirds of Nebraska school districts (largely rural) receive little to no state aid.

In Nebraska in 2017, 42,502 farmers paid $686.5 million dollars in property taxes. On a per-farm basis, that breaks down to $16,151 each, second only to California with the average there being $17,229. The national average in 2017 was $4,902, according to data from the 2017 ag Census collected by Chris Clayton, DTN ag Policy Editor.

John O’Dea lives near McCook, Nebraska with his wife and sons. They are feeling the high tax rate, paying 9 dollars a year per acre of grass. More of his tax dollars are given to support Mid-Plains Community College than he can afford to give his own son, who is putting himself through Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. This for him was a cheaper option than Southeast Community College in Nebraska.

“My sons were talking the other day and they agreed “The expense of being a Nebraskan is getting too high,” O’Dea said. “The state has turned into two liberal cities that expect the rest of the state to support them. Folks are having to work off the place to support the ranch. Who will feed and pay the taxes if they force everyone out. It is having a ripple effect on small towns and communities. Every ag producer that has to take a job in town is taking that job away from someone else. I’m 43 years old and I’m paying more for property taxes now than I did for rent when I started. Land in Nebraska is a liability.”

O’Dea feels that there will be some major changes made as producers attempt to refinance land and cattle in the next few years especially with land values going down. The O’Dea family is seriously considering moving their base of operation to a more ag friendly state in the near future.

“The death losses in Nebraska alone will more than offset what USDA estimated what the calf crop was set to increase in 2019. If calf and yearling prices are not considerably higher this fall, our supply and demand market is broken beyond repair. The cow calf expansion phase was at or near its peak, so these losses will pull us back into a shrinking phase in the cow calf sector,” O’Dea said.

Another Nebraska rancher, Karina Jones, said that on top of weather-related disasters, her state’s property taxes are overwhelming.

“Property taxes are like a second mortgage,” said Karina Jones.

The Jones Ranch in Custer County Nebraska has been hit hard by nature and in a way kicked repeatedly while they were down.

“Our situation is unique. We endured the hailstorm in August of 2017 we had to wean calves immediately and start feeding cows on August 13. We didn’t have a blade of grass left on this ranch,” she remembers. By early December of that year, they were running out of feed, and they were forced to send all of the mother cows to be fed by someone off the ranch. “We fed cows from Aug 13, 2017 to June 1, 2018,” Jones said.

Jones believes the state is taking advantage of ranchers like herself and her husband.

“You would think the government would value people like us. We have a particular skill set that can not be taught in a classroom. You can not learn how to be a rancher from Google. It is generations of DNA intelligence. When they put us out of business, it is all lost. Society won’t be able to get that back. We have a particular skill set to feed the world and I can not think of a more noble profession than that,” Jones said. “It doesn’t matter if you own the ground or lease it. The cost of these high taxes is carried by the producer, the cow/calf man or the yearling guy. With the poor cattle markets the last few years we cannot support this tax burden. I do not know the last time I bought my girls a special sports drink at the supermarket line or convenience store. I cannot afford extras!”

The Jones are not a multi-generational operation. “We do not have the working capital of the generations before us to lean on. It all falls squarely on our shoulders, just like many other operators around us. It is a big load to carry,” Jones said.

The Jones’ had insurance on their home but hay loss from the hail storm was not covered because hail is a non-covered peril. The same with destroyed grass, trees lost, poor weaning weights on the calves that the cows had at side and poor performing calves that they had in utero. “We just want to raise cattle and kids. That’s all. We don’t want to take from anyone else. We want to give back and better our communities. We want to contribute fairly to our tax commitments. We want to feed our neighbors with a high quality product that we are proud to feed our own families.”

Jones would like to see some producer support meetings where others like her could share ideas. “We all need some good education and a place to be positive and focus on solutions. And yet we need a safe place to be heard. The bankers need us to stay in business,” said Leah Peterson of Custer County, Nebraska. “And none of us want easy; we just want a fair shot. Taxes take that away. As someone says, it’s like paying taxes on a 401K every year.”

Jim Scott, branch president of Bruning State Bank in Broken Bow, Nebraska said, “High property taxes are definitely a major issue due to the current ag economy and high expenses. There has been a depreciation of land values in the last 12 months, due to more land being sold and less profitability, people are looking to reduce debt load.”

“We need to even the tax burden on all citizens, like with a sales tax increase; we are waiting on the legislature to help. Producers need to get involved and pay attention to how money is spent,” Scott said.

Fire destroys Nebraska farmer’s equipment

Suspected arson near Sutton, Neb., has destroyed a combine, two semi trucks and trailers loaded with corn, a tractor and a grain cart.

At about 7 am on the morning of Oct. 15, Jonathan Rempel, Henderson, Neb., got a phone call from the Sutton Volunteer Fire Department, telling him his harvest equipment was on fire.

According to the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s office, the fire destroyed all of the equipment.

The equipment was in a harvested cornfield, two miles off a two-lane highway near Sutton in south central Nebraska.

The combine had two President “Trump” flags on it, but Rempel did not want to make the political connection between politics and potential arson.

“I’m a fourth generation farmer, raising the fifth (generation),” he said. “I’m a quiet man and I typically keep to myself. Never have I parked a machine and lost it. Never once have we had something like this happen. Investigators will dictate whether it was arson or not. That’s not for me to judge.”

He said since the fire happened, the outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming.

“I have been reached out to, and loved on more than anybody I know, far beyond anything I deserve. I’m not worthy and I am honored. I have people I have never met, people I’ve never heard of, helping to put my life back together. Not because I am great, because they are. I have people who are stretched to the limit, financially strapped, who are giving. Not because I am great, because they are.”

The equipment was not close to each other; Rempel estimated the combine was 75 to 85 feet from the nearest truck; the trucks were 45 feet apart; and the tractor was approximately 210 feet from anything else.

He did not comment on the financial loss, but said, “Money isn’t relevant. Things don’t matter. People do. Everybody’s concerned about money. I will be OK.”

He said groups are organizing to finish his corn and soybean harvest on Oct. 23 and 24. “Some are friends, some are strangers, and they’re all family.”

Rempel also flew a Trump flag on his combine last year, and asked people to allow justice to take place.

“Don’t rush the police,” he said. “We can’t afford for them to be wrong. We’re not looking for a public lynching or a Facebook execution. I don’t want that. Don’t rush to judgement. We don’t want to cheapen what happened.”

His wife, Abbie, is pregnant and due in about three weeks, and he’s not done with harvest yet. The family is relying on their faith in God. “My wife is due in 21 days and I have half a crop to bring in. And God said, it wasn’t up to me to do it. (God) will bring people into my life that I don’t know, to solve a problem that I can’t solve.”

He also emphasized that people should be kind to one another.

“The other thing I would say is, life’s hard, and it’s hard for everyone in different ways. Be kind to one another, love one another, sacrifice till it hurts, and give to others.

“Life’s a hard game, a game of chess, and I had most of my pieces wiped off the chess board. God provided people to refill it.”

A GoFundme page has been set up, with more than $53,000 raised. Information on the page stated that donated funds would go towards the insurance deductible and expenses not covered by insurance. Donations are also being accepted at Heartland Bank, c/o the Rempel Equipment Benefit Fund, PO Box 69, Aurora, NE 68818.

The Clay Center, Neb. Volunteer Fire Department also assisted in putting out the fire.

In a news release, the Nebraska State Fire Marshal said the investigation is ongoing and a loss estimate has not been determined.

CBP blocks Mongolian stevia imports over labor issues

U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday banned Mongolian stevia extracts and derivatives that it said are produced using convict, forced, or indentured labor by Inner Mongolia Hengzheng Group Baoanzhao Agriculture, Industry, and Trade Co. Ltd. (Baoanzhao).

U.S. law prohibits the importation of merchandise mined, manufactured, or produced, wholly or in part, by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor, and indentured labor. CBP published its decision in what is called a “Finding” that was published in the Federal Register. It instructs port directors to seize the merchandise in question and to commence forfeiture proceedings. CBP said it was the first forced labor Finding since 1996.

“Today’s Finding tells U.S. importers who fail to eliminate forced labor from their supply chains that their shipments may be subject to seizure and forfeiture,” said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade. “We hope this action encourages importers to take a close look at their supply chains to ensure that they meet the humane and ethical standards of the United States government.”

–The Hagstrom Report

Farm borrower stress increased over past four years

Farm borrower stress has increased over the past four years, Farm Credit officials said in a briefing Wednesday without mentioning that those have been the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Todd Van Hoose, president and CEO of the Farm Credit Council, released a series of charts showing that nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans has risen, the debt-to-asset ratio has climbed and the level of farmers’ working capital that protects them from market and weather troubles has declined.

Farm Credit rates loans on a scale of 1 to 14, Van Hoose said, and the percentage of loans in Category 1, which are the best, has declined, while the percentage of loans in Category 10 and above has risen, he noted. The percentage of loans that are in Category 13 and 14, which are described as “doubtful and loss” rose from 4% in 2014 to 8% in 2019.

The deterioration is “not very big, but a steady uptick,” he said.

Farmers’ net cash income “looks ok,” Van Hoose said, but the percentage from government payments has risen from 11.5% in 2017 to 37.2% in 2020, raising the question of whether farm income levels are “sustainable.”

Mike Reynolds, president and CEO of Farm Credit East, which operates in seven Northeastern states, said that without assistance from the government the 8% of loans that are considered of doubtful quality would have doubled to 16%.

About 80% of dairy operations are in “acceptable” shape, Reynolds said, but there is “not much room for adversity.”

Mike Jensen, president and CEO of Farm Credit Services of America and Frontier Farm Credit, which operate in the Midwest, said that farmers in his region were already making adjustments to lower commodity prices and weather conditions when the coronavirus pandemic led to a further deterioration in commodity prices.

The lack of access to meat packing was so bad at one point, Jensen said, that he believed “we were weeks if not months away from a disaster” in terms of no market for animals, environmental problems due to the need for depopulation and “a food security issue that this country had never seen.”

Lower interest rates, he said, led to his customers converting 22,000 loans and saving $18 billion.

China’s purchases at higher levels and ethanol plants increasing operations have improved the situation, “but it would be great to have the restaurants back in full production. Grains and livestock have settled into a break-even level,” Jensen said.

Iowa farmland, at about $10,000 per acre, has declined about 20% from the peak, but that was less than an expected 30% decline, he added. The stability in land values, he added, has allowed some producers to get out of farming, but continue to rent out their land.

There is a general shortage of labor in agriculture, but meat plants are experiencing a severe shortage that has led to more expenditures on automation, Jensen said. While there is talk of building more meat plants, smaller meat plants would have faced the same labor and regulatory issues as larger plants, he added.

Customers are not expecting another round of special government payments, but the question is whether there will be another wave of the coronavirus, the officials said.

–The Hagstrom Report

Smith leads letter to Perdue urging incentive payments for CRP enrollment

Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., and other Democratic senators on Tuesday urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to increase incentive payments for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program to stop the enrollment decline in the CRP.

In a letter to Perdue last week, Smith, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and fellow Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Patty Murray of Washington, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Dick Durbin of Illinois, pointed out that during a time of declining CRP enrollment, the USDA has offered Practice Incentive Payments at only 5% of the cost of the practice, even though the 2018 farm bill authorized the USDA to pay farmers up to 50% of the cost.

“Past administrations have also offered rental rate payments to incentivize enrollment, something the Trump administration has not done,” they said.

In 2020, 5.36 million acres of CRP land are scheduled to expire, while just 3.54 million acres have enrolled in the program, resulting in the loss of nearly two million acres, the senators noted.

“At a time when we should be encouraging producers to participate, these changes to CRP are taking away incentives for farmers to enroll in the program,” the senators wrote. “We urge the administration to implement the program as Congress intended, and support farmers dedicated to conservation and responsible land stewardship.”

–The Hagstrom Report

FFA Regional Range Winners Receive Scholarships

Bath (October, 2020) – The South Dakota FFA Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of three $100 scholarships

for students placing first in each of the three SD Regional Range Evaluation Competitions this fall in Wessington Springs,

Wall and Roslyn. 2020 scholarship recipients are: Quinten Christiansen, Wessington Spring; Kash Block, Kadoka; and

Matthew Mork, Webster.

The scholarships are designed to encourage and reward students’ accomplishments in the field of range management. Scholarships are made possible by a contribution to the SD FFA Foundation from LeRoy and Cathie Draine of Black Hawk. “These scholarships represent a good combination of three important beliefs: first, our respect for the integrity of the land, our soils and water; second, the imperative to provide educational opportunities for understanding and the wise use and care of the land; and third, faith in the process of developing knowledgeable custodians for the future,” said Cathie Draine.

The Range Evaluation Competition, hosted by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, SDSU Extension and the US Forest Service, provides students insight into the basic tools used in land stewardship, which is the application of ecological principles and historically significant disturbance such as grazing. Contest objectives are to teach participants some of the principles of ecology including soil/plant relationships, plant/animal relationships, and plant succession as applied to management of the land resource. Beef cattle and grouse have been chosen to demonstrate the concept of habitat evaluation. Both species are ecologically and economically important and their relationship to different stages of plant succession is well known.

LeRoy and Cathie Draine are proud to support Agricultural Education and the FFA’s mission to make a difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more information about the South Dakota FFA Foundation and South Dakota’s FFA programs, visit www.sdffafoundation.org.


Mott’s the spot: New meat packing plant opens in southwest North Dakota

“I’m ready to fly to D.C. and start lobbying for these ranchers, because I don’t know who else is.”

The chasm between where our country’s decisions are made and where our working ranchers are making a living is large – both physically, and politically. New York City is a long way from our region and sometimes seems like it has a different breed of people altogether – but occasionally, the chasm is crossed.

A new meat processing plant called South 40 Beef is beginning construction just outside of Mott, North Dakota, and is set to be operating by March 1 of 2021. The plant will be approximately 5,500 square feet, create 10-12 jobs, have a capacity of 160 head per month, and is set to begin making a profit 6-9 months into operation. The story behind the man behind the plant is a rare and impactful one.

John Roswech first visited southwest North Dakota approximately 20 years ago on a pheasant hunting trip. He sold e-commerce software to large retailers like Wal-mart and Best Buy, at the time living in New York City. On his hunting trips he fell in love with the prairie, and when his two children graduated college, he and his wife Kim decided to move west full-time. They bought pasture and farmland near Mott, grooming it for habitat and pheasant hunting and now running their own herd of 100 head of Black Angus cattle.

“My background is not agriculture, and certainly not cattle. As we were moving here from New York City, I wanted to get in the cattle business and see how I can make money there. I researched it and found out it’s very, very challenging. You used to be able to own 100 head of cattle and support your family. The price disparity between the packers and producers and what the ranchers are getting is huge right now. I can’t make money in cattle alone, so what other problem can I actually solve in the cattle industry?”

This line of thinking was before COVID-19. The pandemic hit, and it became clear that a beef processing plant was Roswech’s answer. He wants the ability to process and slaughter his own cattle, and local ranchers’ cattle. The beef will then sell via online orders to consumers across the nation.

“Consumers in New York City and L.A. are willing to pay more for quality beef. Part of my business plan is to leverage my e-commerce background and marketing my North Dakota cattle to consumers on the coast.”

Roswech is passionate about helping ranchers in North Dakota. Opening a plant that could process under federal inspection was a priority, allowing local ranchers to process then directly sell their beef to consumers.

“You’re not asking the consumer at this point to buy a quarter, half, or whole under a custom butcher. We’ll allow them to retail specific cuts, and that will yield more per head than going under custom or bringing their cattle to the sale barn. My ambition is to help ranchers get their cattle processed and to allow them to make a living.”

The process of beginning this project was difficult, according to Roswech. “Finding a location to build the plant was very, very challenging. I looked in both the Dakotas. North Dakota was very friendly to the idea, but it was tough to find a location that had the ability to hook up to an existing waterline. Towns don’t want slaughtering in town, so I had to find something slightly outside of town on a good road that allowed for access to water.”

He looked at plans all the way from Rapid City to Bismarck, but said the city of Mott worked hard to find land and water for the plant.

Mayor Troy Mosbrucker and a few other city leaders told Roswech to hang tight when he proposed his idea. Finding land and water were the two biggest hurdles. Within 2 weeks, Mosbrucker found landowner Robert Martin, who sold them 5 acres of land with a water source about a mile west of town. Martin had said he didn’t want to see the processing plant go anywhere else.

“It’s economic development for the city, and the county. Everyone will benefit from it. He’s bringing families to town. We had a meat shop here in Mott close about a year ago, and we miss it, and we want another one. Meat processing plants are hard to come by. I buy beef for my family, and I have to wait a year for the producer I buy from.”

Mosbrucker said anytime someone wants to begin this kind of project in your city, there are always questions. Roswech won him over with enthusiasm, excitement, and dedication to the idea. “There have been a few hurdles, but he’s got them covered,” Mosbrucker said.

Roswech said he believes he’s past the hardest part of securing land, water, money, and an engineering firm to create a design for the plant. “If you want to operate a plant at full capacity, you need a solid work flow, with experts who can design the correct rail system. Especially under federal inspection, the facility needs to be designed in partnership with the state agriculture department. It was work to find an engineering firm, and that’s one of the most important things. Another is engaging in ag and economic development authority, because there is some assistance out there for new plants that can help guide you through the paperwork process.” Being inspected by the USDA comes with a few other challenges, including finding workers that will work well while under supervision, and an office manager to handle the extra paperwork and documentation. The inspector has to be on-site during the slaughtering and cutting processes.

North Dakota is one of seven states that participate in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program, which allows the state to perform inspection during slaughter and processing and the product can display the federal inspection bug. North Dakota was the second state to meet the “same as” inspection requirements of the USDA and was accepted into the CIS program as of January 11, 2013.

The support Roswech found in the state included North Dakota Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring. Roswech first approached the Agricultural Products Utilization Commission, where Goehring said first impressions weren’t solid, but the commission was impressed after having open dialogue with a humble Roswech.

“He’s humble enough to say he doesn’t know the livestock industry at it’s best, he has a lot to learn, he doesn’t know everything about slaughtering facilities but that’s why he’s hiring good people. We could at least give him a little bit of seed money to help with the engineering costs and go from there,” Commissioner Goehring said.

Goerhing and the State Department of Agriculture assisted with the plant’s design to ensure the workflow was efficient. This included conversations about exactly how the animals will flow from the outside to indoor staging, how they’re harvested, where the coolers are located, and even where the offices and break rooms are located. Taking a close look at the engineering, right down to the footers and concrete is important. If the concrete separates, it becomes a hazard physically, functionally, and could also become a potential point of contamination. Because of their involvement with other facilities, the department and Goerhing know what to look for and what to point out. They also helped with the ‘enormous’ amount of paperwork, to ensure it wasn’t as much of a hassle for Roswech.

“John was great because he listened and took all those things to heed. That’s better than having someone have their own ideas and doing only that.

The largest expenses included the cooler and freezer space, and disposal of the gray water used to clean the facility each day. Roswech said he’s at the high end of his budget at $400 per square foot, equaling around $1.5 million for the building and another $500,000 for the equipment. He said securing a loan for a processing plant is difficult because it’s a challenge for the banks to appraise the value, given the monopoly over the industry and not many small to mid-size plants for comparison.

Similar to Mosbrucker, Goehring is enthusiastic about the benefits the plant will bring involving the creation of jobs and more processing access for local ranchers.

“It will also be a benefit for those producers that want to direct market themselves, or it’s product that will be purchased by South 40 and they’re going to market that primarily to the east, and the west coast markets where people will get a taste for really good meat. That’s the other side of the coin that’s a little bit different. I’ve eaten on the east and west coast, and it’s not that they have bad meat, but it’s not Midwest meat, and that’s a big deal.”

His past career in New York City provided Roswech with a bit of a different background than what is common in North Dakota, but it’s given him a unique perspective and inspiring drive to do right by the ranchers in our area. His passion to solve issues in the cattle industry and stand up for ranchers is outstanding, and his ability to bridge a gap evident between two very different parts of the country was nearly effortless. For his ambitions to create South 40 Beef, Mott was the perfect spot.

Numerous beef processing plants have been popping up across our region, thanks to those in the industry (or sometimes those outside, like Roswech) that recognize the dire need for them. Rumors of a plant in Gillette, Wyoming stemmed from a release of money with the CARES act, and there’s been a large interest in building one in the area, but at the time of this article being published, the city’s zoning department said there are no official plans yet.

NCBA Commends USDA For Increased Research On Brucella Species In Large Animal Outdoor Containment

On Wednesday, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a draft policy statement through the Federal Select Agent Program (FSAP) on research with Brucella species in outdoor settings.

United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) Animal Health and Identification Committee Chairman Dwight Keller issued the following statement:

“For years, USCA and other animal health leaders have called for the allowance of Brucella research to study vaccine responses to natural infections in cattle, swine, elk, or bison. However, the inclusion of certain Brucella strains on the U.S. Select Agents and Toxins List has severely limited the ability of researchers to perform these kinds of studies. In 1996, the U.S. had 11 facilities capable of performing this type of research – now, there is no such facility capable of studying large mammals in containment while also following proper biosecurity protocols.

“Though certain Brucella strains will remain on the Select Agents list, this recent announcement by USDA APHIS broadens the scope of possibilities by allowing for the consideration of Brucella research in outdoor settings by the Federal Select Agents Program (FSAP), something which multiple state veterinarians and members of USCA’s Animal Health Committee have advocated for. USCA commends USDA APHIS for taking this important first step towards the eradication of brucellosis in domestic animals and wildlife.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Kathy Simmons said, “This announcement is welcome news for cattle producers that face uncertainty from wildlife, infected with brucellosis threatening the well-being of their animals and operations. Thank you to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, Undersecretary Greg Ibach, and their teams, for developing this framework to advance our ability to control and eradicate brucellosis through improved opportunities to study disease transmission between cattle and wildlife. This expanded research is a good first step and NCBA will continue to work with the Trump administration to further protect producers from threats due to brucellosis.”

According to NCBA, USDA’s Cooperative State Federal Brucellosis Eradication Program has made significant progress in eliminating the disease from most of the United States. Brucellosis results in production losses of less than $1 million today, down from a high of $400 million in the 1950s. Yet, continued advances are still needed — endemic Brucella abortus is expanding its range in the Greater Yellowstone area and Brucella suis is being found in feral swine populations throughout various areas of the United States. F


Champion Cow Horse Returns to Competition after Five Years

The most exciting 14 days in reined cow horse competition is when top contenders compete in the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity. In 2020, that means Oct. 10-24 in Fort Worth.

At the Snaffle Bit Futurity in 2012, it was a Cinderella story when the little-known Bettin Yer Smart quietly and confidently won the futurity’s Hackamore competition. This red roan stallion with the big moves, stops and personality is owned by Long Pines Land & Livestock of Buffalo, SD, and ridden by his trainer, Justin Lawrence of Alzada, MT. Never before had a horse from the northern plains won at the Snaffle Bit.

After more success, including being awarded NRCHA Supreme Horse, he was retired from competition to run the Long Pines’ rangeland in the remote northwest corner of South Dakota with his broodmares. He was ridden about a dozen times to help with ranch jobs until July of this year, when he returned to Justin Lawrence for a short 6-week tune up.

Like in 2012, Bettin Yer Smart quietly and confidently entered the arena at the SD Reined Cow Horse Association (SDRCHA) Dakota Bridle Spectacular. After 5 years away from the show pen, he reminded everyone why he’s a national champion.

He earned a cumulative 433.5 points, 145 in fence work, 144 in reining and 144.5 in herd work (cutting). So this 13-year old stallion, retired for five years, with six weeks of training and up against the “new toughs” from five states, won third in the Open Bridle class and earned the fourth highest score in the Dakota Bridle Spectacular.

Unlike 2012, this time Bettin Yer Smart had two offspring from his first foal crop competing. Smart Vaca Reina, a 2016 palomino mare, won the Limited Open Hackamore. Smokin The Jay, a 2016 sorrel gelding, was one-half point from earning money in the Stallion Stakes Limited Open. Both of these four-year-olds have NRCHA earnings from other shows. At the SDRCHA event, they were ridden by 15-year-old Dallie Lawrence.

Like the 2012 Bettin Yer Smart championships, his return in 2020 was an emotional time for his fans. “We’ll proudly admit we’re a little teary-eyed after watching him compete again,” says owner Deb Brown. “His first event was herd work and he just loved being back. We opened the books to outside mares for the first time in 2020 and have decided to do the same in 2021, especially after watching him and his offspring compete together.”

Trainer and rider Justin Lawrence calls Bettin Yer Smart “the horse with the most trainability and try” of any he’s trained. “It’s an amazing feeling to lead him through the barn, past his 2-, 3- and 4-year-old prospects.”

Bettin Yer Smart is by Smart Little Lena and out of Bet Yer Boons, who is a daughter of Peptoboonsmal and Bet Yer Blue Boons. You can find out more at BettinYerSmart.com.

– Long Pines Land & Livestock

UW ag students learn hands-on livestock slaughter skills

Ditching laptops and donning rubber boots and coveralls, University of Wyoming students prep within five minutes for class.

This isn’t the standard dress for COVID-19 precautions but for class on the UW Meat Laboratory kill floor.

This is just one of the many courses McKensie Harris, assistant lecturer and internship program coordinator for the Department of Animal Science, teaches in fall.

“The livestock slaughter practicum class is just that,” said Harris, in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “A place where students can develop skills in the animal harvest industry.”

During Phase 1 and 2 of UW’s approach to reopening this semester, the class was taught online with an academic focus providing students virtual lectures on principles of animal handling, food safety and meat science.

During Phase 3, when all students were allowed back on campus, the class went right to work in the UW Meat Lab.

“McKensie did a great job during those first four weeks to prepare us to hit the ground at full speed,” said Ben Herdt, a student in the class from Laramie and manager in the academic advising office with the Advising, Career and Exploratory Studies Center.

“When I went in that very first day of in-person instruction, I suited up and was on the meat lab kill floor within five minutes going to work, and that’s a tribute to the preparation we were doing in the weeks before.”

For three weeks the class will use hands-on learning to harvest a pig, then focus for three weeks of beef harvest and round out the class with two weeks of lamb harvest.

“The class has been one of my favorite courses I think because it’s so hands-on,” said Brittany Vogl, a sophomore in the class from Elizabeth, Colo. “The first day McKensie said, ‘We are going to be here, we are going to help you every step of the way, but we aren’t doing it for you.’”

Students work with the animal from the beginning – when it comes into the facility as a live animal and to the end – preparing and putting the carcass in the freezer.

For Herdt, as a UW staff member, he has the opportunity to take classes. A coworker who has kids in 4-H and raises animals recommended this course to him.

“I really enjoy cooking,” said Herdt. “I enjoy cooking meat, and I enjoy the idea that we need to become more connected to the food we eat. So that’s what really drew me toward the class.”

He also mentioned taking a variety of different classes helps him get better at his job. He generally works with first-year students who are either academically at-risk or undeclared and need guidance on courses to take.

“It helps me be better at my job if I take an undergraduate class because it keeps me connected to what they are experiencing,” said Herdt.

He explained his job requires him to be a great generalist, of knowing what is generally offered around campus because students often don’t know what’s out there until they talk to someone who has tried it before.

“It’s nice to find these little corners of campus where really great things are happening,” said Herdt. “I’m super impressed with what McKensie is doing and Kyle (Phillips, UW Meat Lab manager), who runs the meat lab, and Warrie (Means, interim associate dean and associate professor in meat science). Their whole corner of campus is very impressive.”

The class was required for Vogl’s major in animal science with a concentration in production, meat and food technology, but she wanted to step out of her comfort zone.

“I was intimidated but after seeing the process a few times, I feel way better,” said Vogl. “If someone were to approach me in the grocery store and say, ‘How could you eat meat? It’s unethical,’ this course will give me a stronger platform to combat that and have experience to back up my thoughts.”

Vogl shared that the class was a lot of hard work but with proper technique anyone can harvest an animal.

“Ag can be a very male-dominated industry but for a woman to take interest in it is a really big deal, because a lot of the practices we learned requires a lot of strength and you would normally associate that with a man,” said Vogl. “However, what McKensie has taught us is it’s all about technique. It doesn’t matter what you look like, who you are, what your gender is, it’s all about technique and how you do it.”

Both Herdt and Vogl believe they are gaining a greater understanding of the livestock slaughter process and would recommend the course to others who are interested in this area of study and like hands-on learning.

“The community the meat lab provides to those students is great,” said Herdt. “Those are the kinds of communities we need. That over there supports those students so much, and their persistence and retention is going to be so much better.”

–UW Extension

The NILE: Runnin’ the Rims Barrel Race

Friday, October 9th

1D Placings

1st — 13.794 Chenessa McGraw on The Flit To Kill For $357.00

2nd — 14.134 Jessica DeSaveur on Missin Nothin $268.00

3rd — 14.218 Karen Boyd on Tripper $178.00

4th — 14.258 Steph Newman on Dashinski $89.00

2D Placings

1st — 14.467 Talynn Paul on SG Zan Gold Seeker $229.00

2nd — 14.477 Michelle Lucke on Mistys Quick Money $191.00

3rd — 14.514 Kari Parker on MFR Firewater Lynx $153.00

4th — 14.536 Terri Kaye Kirkland on Horse 1 $115.00

5th — 14.539 Haley Vance on GSP Drift N Fritz $76.00

3D Placings

1st — 14.813 Keon Sutton on Fly $140.00

1st — 14.813 Christine Kautzman on Rip Rare N Dash $140.00

3rd — 14.819 Laurie Johnson on Hail Firen Brimstone $102.00

4th — 14.859 Hailey Garrison on Rue $76.00

5th — 14.887 Bridger Brengle on Fritz $51.00

4D Placings

1st — 15.327 Madee Butte on TJ Bar Dash $115.00

2nd — 15.357 Jodi Klind on Docs Miss Haida $96.00

3rd — 15.364 Shelly Christensen on Bearley Missin Cash $76.00

4th — 15.432 Baylie Mulholland on Docs peponita dash $57.00

5th — 15.471 Talynn Paul on Coal Mining Drifter $38.00

Runnin’ the Rims Barrel Race

Saturday, October 10th

1D Placings

1st — 13.968 Chenessa McGraw on The Flit To Kill For $517.00

2nd — 14.169 Karen Boyd on Tripper $388.00

3rd — 14.271 Terri Kaye Kirkland on Mylastclassicaliluia $323.00

4th — 14.286 Danielle Wright on Thundernlighting $258.00

5th — 14.289 Jessie Kukowski on Moon Dancer $215.00

6th — 14.308 Hannah Sharon on Miss Montana 229 $172.00

7th — 14.408 Lynn Kohr on Golden Cloud $151.00

8th — 14.466 Shelly Christensen on Miss Heidibear $129.00

2D Placings

1st — 14.482 Milee Dailey on Top Of The Sail $443.00

2nd — 14.499 Cedar Kohr on KQH Catchmeifyoucan $332.00

3rd — 14.514 Terri Kaye Kirkland on Horse 1 $277.00

4th — 14.537 Lynn Kohr on Dashingwithafrenchman $221.00

5th — 14.542 JoDawn Leonhardt on Queen Of Perks $166.00

5th — 14.542 Annaliese Allshouse on yo frenchmans charm $166.00

7th — 14.585 Joeleen Cox on Dr. Nick of Time $129.00

8th — 14.594 Gayleen Malone on Tinys Second Dash $111.00

3D Placings

1st — 14.971 Tannis Kramer on Dan D Lion $295.00

2nd — 14.975 Julia Hoagland on Free River Spirit $221.00

3rd — 14.991 Donna Jo Leavitt on Cousin Road Runner $185.00

4th — 15.025 Jodi Klind on Docs Miss Haida $148.00

5th — 15.033 Elysia Huber on Streakin Tom Cat $123.00

6th — 15.045 Lana Tibbetts on Alotta Cut Throat $98.00

7th — 15.053 Tracy Matz on LD Shades $86.00

8th — 15.057 Seely Daniels on Cajun’s Ace of Spades $74.00

4D Placings

1st — 15.545 Jodi Klind on Marthas Fast Chic $222.00

2nd — 15.55 Kate Renner on Freckled Playbug $166.00

3rd — 15.555 Lindsey Reynolds on Ruger $138.00

4th — 15.563 Madi Beaupre on JM French Cash Bar $111.00

5th — 15.566 Kelsey Ferguson on Prime Pick $92.00

6th — 15.576 Kelsey Ferguson on Mister $74.00

7th — 15.592 Lexi Benson on RTF My Natural Stoli $65.00

8th — 15.597 Susan Susan on Dox All American $55.00

Runnin’ the Rims Barrel Race

Sunday, October 11th

1D Placings

1st — 13.965 Chenessa McGraw on The Flit To Kill For $532.00

2nd — 14.052 Shelly Christensen on Miss Heidibear $418.00

3rd — 14.125 Hannah Sharon on Miss Montana 229 $342.00

4th — 14.163 Danielle Wright on Thundernlighting $266.00

5th — 14.275 Manchi Nace on Streakin Chants Girl $190.00

6th — 14.334 Terri Kaye Kirkland on Mylastclassicaliluia $152.00

2D Placings

1st — 14.528 Mikayla Connelly on GSP Drift N Fritz $391.00

2nd — 14.569 Kim Schmidt on Dashed My Income $293.00

3rd — 14.575 Billie Schaff on Panicked For Cash $244.00

4th — 14.595 Casey Wagner on Frenchice $195.00

5th — 14.618 Tracy Matz on LD Shades $163.00

6th — 14.628 Vickie Gilje on VK Docs Midjeta $130.00

7th — 14.629 Terri Kaye Kirkland on Horse 1 $114.00

8th — 14.639 Talynn Paul on SG Zan Gold Seeker $98.00

3D Placings

1st — 14.999 Rachel Morgan on Harrys Dash $261.00

2nd — 15.017 Tye Brown on Heza Burnin Freckle $195.00

3rd — 15.027 KayLee Hughes on BGR Storm My Jay $163.00

4th — 15.07 Kori Smith on MR Profiteer $130.00

5th — 15.073 Jodi Klind on Marthas Fast Chic $109.00

6th — 15.132 Rachel Boyd on Pickel $87.00

7th — 15.144 Vickie Gilje on Frenchins Date $76.00

8th — 15.154 Hannah Vogel on Panther Mtn Treasure $65.00

4D Placings

1st — 15.477 Paige Twitchell on Rocket Shadow Blurr $196.00

2nd — 15.492 Jodi Klind on Docs Miss Haida $147.00

3rd — 15.506 Seely Daniels on Cajun’s Ace of Spades $122.00

4th — 15.516 Vickie Gilje on Gone ABA Star $98.00

5th — 15.52 Donna Jo Leavitt on Cousin Road Runner $82.00

6th — 15.528 Cathy Roesler on French Check Ta Fame $65.00

7th — 15.539 Aspen Lenhardt on Playin With Dynamite $57.00

8th — 15.567 Jennifer Estes on Bee Bobbin Cowboy $49.00

Runnin’ the Rims Barrel Race

Averages (Saturday & Sunday)

1D Placings

1st — 27.933 Chenessa McGraw on The Flit To Kill For

2nd — 28.433 Hannah Sharon on Miss Montana 299

2D Placings

1st — 29.143 Terri Kaye Kirkland on Afton

2nd — 29.290 Kim Schmidt on Dashed My Income

3D Placings

1st — 29.940 KayLee Hughes on BGR Storm My Jay

2nd — 29.956 Madee Butte on TJ Bar Dash

4D Placings

1st — 31.025 Dede Anders on Jessie Nick Bar

2nd — 31.188 Vickie Gilje on Gone ABA Star