2022 Missouri Beef Queen Madeline Payne plans to continue to be an advocate for agriculture
HALFWAY, MO. – Growing up in rural Polk County, Mo., Madeline Payne said her family has always had a hobby farm near Halfway.
“We’ve raised crossbred commercial cattle, had a couple of horses and some chickens here and there. We’ve raised hogs, had gardens and things like that. It was always enough for Mom and Dad (Kenton and Alisha Payne) to put home-grown food on the table,” the 19-year-old sophomore at Missouri State University said. She added that she and her younger sisters, Mayce and Michaela, are all involved in their family’s farming operation.
In high school, Madeline plunged into FFA. For the naturally-competitive teen, the organization allowed her to participate on Career Development teams and in prepared speaking competitions. During her senior year at Halfway High School, she served as chapter and Area 10 president.
“I was pretty much involved in everything I could get my hands on in high school,” she said. “I loved FFA and was all in, from shop class to the classroom.”
In 2021, Madeline’s uncle and Polk County Cattlemen’s Association President Bob Moreland offered her a new competition.
“He called and asked if I wanted to run for Missouri Beef Queen,” Madeline recalled. “I laughed at him. I told him it was a pageant, and I was not going to do a pageant. He convinced me it wasn’t, so I said I would do it.”
While not convinced by her uncle’s reassurances, Maddie represented Polk County for the 2022 Missouri Beef Queen crown – and won.
“It wasn’t until late December (2021) that I even wanted to win,” Madeline admitted. “During my reign, I learned what it means to be Beef Queen.”
Madeline spent the last year representing Missouri’s beef producers at fairs, parades, cattle shows, rodeos and other events. She has also advocated for Missouri’s cattle industry and worked to increase the number of members in the Missouri Junior Cattlemen’s Association.
“I entertain and talk to people about the cattle industry,” Madeline said. “I also advocate for the Missouri beef industry through social media and other means. I created the first Instagram page for the Missouri Beef Queen and have nearly 3,000 followers. By creating that page, we were able to reach a whole generation of people who don’t have Facebook and reach youth where they are on social media; I enjoy trying to inspire the next generation of producers.”
Developing relationships with younger producers, she added, keeps the next generation engaged and active in the beef industry.
The use of social media has also allowed Madeline to reach more people and share the story of beef production in Missouri.
“I can’t be everywhere,” she said with a laugh. “Social media is where young people are, so I can share with them about the beef industry wherever they are.”
When she could be a part of an event, Madeline enjoyed interacting with families who might not know where their beef comes from.
“At Country Days in Bolivar, our county association set up an educational booth for beef; I was there to run it as Missouri Beef Queen,” she explained. “There was a wheel with questions, like ‘How many essential nutrients are in a pound of beef?’ There was basic information about the beef industry. We had hundreds of people come through, and the kids really loved it, and the parents learned things too.”
Madeline learned a few things about agriculture as well.
“I learned individual agriculturalists have a place in Missouri government and policy,” she said. “I’ve learned how we, as individual farmers, can make a change for our industry by speaking out and using our voice, even a young person. By doing that, we can get things done beyond local government. If we all work together, we have a big voice. I feel fortunate to be a part of Missouri agriculture because we stick together and help one another; we have each other’s back. I’ve also learned communication skills and how to think on my feet. I’ve had to learn to overcome little things by myself. I am a planned-out person, but at the Missouri State Fair, I had to figure out everything on my own. It was the little, personal battles I had to overcome. It’s been awesome.”
But it wasn’t all hard work. Polk County spearheaded the inaugural Beef Days Celebration in Bolivar, Mo., But it wasn’t all hard work. Polk County spearheaded the inaugural Beef Days Celebration in Bolivar, Mo., a week filled with tours, a rodeo, and other agriculture- and beef-related events.
“That was amazing,” Madeline said. “It was a great time to advocate for the beef industry, and I got to help with the auction and the ball, and I got to ride the colors out at the rodeo; that was the highlight of my life. When I was a little girl, I rode horses at the Halfway Saddle Club. I stopped riding for a while because I was on a traveling softball team, but it was all of the little girl dreams inside me coming true at once. It was great to see so many people in the industry coming out from all over the state.”
Even though she will not be Missouri Beef Queen, Madeline plans to help with the May 2023 event.
Her time as the 2022 Missouri Beef Queen is ending, but Madeline plans to continue advocating for agriculture and the beef industry in Missouri.
“The things I’ve learned as Beef Queen are skills I will be able to carry with me into any area of my life, no matter the path I choose. I will be an agriculturalist for years to come, and I plan on being in the cattle industry for years to come. It’s been a crazy year, but it was worth it. It was a lot of fun, and I got the meet a lot of amazing people in our industry; I always felt so welcome. It’s been amazing to serve the people of the Missouri beef industry this past year. There have been challenges, but overall, it has taught me a lot and pushed me to grow.”
Six young ladies from Missouri will compete for the Missouri Beef Queen title at the 2023 Missouri Cattlemen’s Convention in January, and Madeline offered a little advice.
“Be yourself. Don’t feel like you have to fix a persona,” Madeline said. “Take any opportunity you get through your reign because it will be done before you know it, and you will be a better person at the end and a better advocate for agriculture.”