Mountain View, Mo., teen finds his place in agriculture through Salers cattle and FFA

With three generations as FFA members, one might assume that it was a given that Matthew Price would follow his family’s example, but he was given a choice as to whether he would devote his life to agricultural pursuits. Luckily, he did and now it appears to be an option for his future as well.

Liberty High School senior Matthew has been in FFA since his freshman year, but his involvement didn’t begin there; in fact, his interaction in the world of agriculture started at an early age. His grandparents, Joe and Nancy Beltz of Mountain View, Mo., began their cattle venture with the Salers breed in 1985. Both being educators, they needed a breed that did not require as much time invested when calving and would thrive on little grass. They found that the Salers breed to be ideal for the Ozarks, due to their “maternal ability,” their relatively big feet for maneuverability on rocky ground, and the ability to do well on the typical orchard and fescue grass mix found in the Ozarks. With approximately 1,000 acres of land, Joe and Nancy never required their grandson to help on the farm; it was always his choice whether he wanted to pursue farming for himself.

“Since I was a little kid I would go out with Papa and check cows,” Matthew recalled fondly. He attended his first actual cattle show when he was 14 and then he was hooked. At the age of 15, he competed in the National Salers Junior Association show at Lebanon, Tenn., where he won almost every event and was named Top Overall Individual. He plans to continue to show on the junior circuit until he is 21.

His FFA SAE (Supervised Agriculture Experience) project for the past three years has been in beef production and showing the Salers breed, where he competes in local shows against all other types of cattle and then at a national level at the breed specific shows. He will choose his steers or heifers at about 6 to 7 months of age, start feeding them, and then breaking them to lead. He then progresses to washing them and getting them accustomed to being washed and clipped. In fact, he doesn’t use a grooming chute when he grooms any of his cattle, rather he ties them up and they learn to stand quietly while he dries and brushes them. His mother, a former FFA officer, Stephanie Beltz-Price said. “Showing a cow and winning is about the work done in the barn beforehand.”

Those countless hours are where Matthew spends most of his time each summer when he can devote the necessary time to his herd. The rest of his time is devoted to FFA.

The world of raising Salers can overlap into his FFA time, especially when stock is needed for judging contests. Matthew has furnished his own cattle for area chapter judging contests for the past two years.

Matthew believes in giving back to his community and he rarely meets a stranger, especially in the area of agriculture. Matthew is always eager to help others entering this field and has been instrumental in tutoring others in the areas of showing cows.

“My goal here is to train the next person to be better than I am,” he said. “The only time you’re in competition is when you’re in the ring.”

Matthew began his FFA career as a ninth grader. His first year didn’t go quite as well as he had hoped, but it did encourage him to take a more active role in the organization. As a sophomore he became his chapter’s secretary.

“I wanted to be a voice in changing our chapter,” he said. Specifically, Matthew wanted more rigorous requirements for members to attend the national convention. Besides selling a certain number of fruit items, he also encouraged other standards so each member earned the right to go. Matthew has attended national convention all four years of high school.

Matthew continued to pursue leadership roles and was named his chapter’s vice president his junior year and was chosen as one of two junior applicants to be named to an area office, which was an unusual honor since it was normally awarded to senior students. His officer success has continued this year where he is his chapter’s president and area first vice president and vows to apply to be a state officer this spring.

When competing in FFA events, Matthew received 10th place in Meat Identification his freshman year, received 12th place in Forestry at districts and qualified to go to state competition his sophomore year, and placed 18th at districts in floriculture last year as a junior. This year his team placed fifth in rituals competition. He is also on team one of the Liberty trap teams that has won the last three out of five contests this year, with his personal best being 46 out of 50.

“FFA has opened many doors and it will continue to,” Matthew said.

He plans to attend a Missouri college and pursue an agriculture-related major. With his mother and uncle having graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia, that may be where he is headed next year. He sees himself working the family farm once he graduates from college.

His advice to any young person who is contemplating joining FFA: “If you’re gonna try it, do it. Go all in and get something out of it.”

For a young man who can wear a different FFA shirt for two weeks before doing laundry it sounds like he has done just that and will continue to be a leader in the world of agriculture.


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