In Town: Mark serves as the business manager of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 178, in Springfield, Mo., where he oversees the daily operations of over 300 members. Mark is a pipefitter by trade and has been a member of Local 178 for 25 years.
On the Farm: Mark and his family began their farming endeavors in 1998 with the purchase of six heifers and now keep between 35 and 40 momma cows at their Fair Grove, Mo., farm. “Keeping back a few heifers each year has enabled us to keep the herd young and has helped us avoid borrowing money,” he said. “We are a small operation, but we try to run things like a business. Each year, we (he and his wife, Pam) look at our debt/asset ratio, making sure it stays in line. We try hard to keep our costs down by justifying major purchases.”
Farm Improvements: After years of wanting a better system to work cattle with, Mark recently invested in a new sweeping tub system, and has had no regrets about his purchase, as it helps everything run smooth and safe while working cattle. In the future, he would like to build better pens near his house for weaning calves and set up a rotational grazing system, in hopes of seeing better results from his grass stands.
Biggest Challenges: “Right now, weather is a bit of a challenge,” Mark said with a chuckle, as he stands in knee deep snow after chopping ice on a frozen pond. Another challenge is expenses. “Cow prices are great right now, we can’t complain about that. But, back in 2000, when my steers brought 70 cents, we made more profit than what we’re making now, with steers bringing $1.70. It’s a direct result of our increase in expenses.” Time can be another challenge. “The Lord comes first in our house, after that I have work, the family and the farm. It can be hectic at times.”
Story by Casey Groose