NCBA’s Jennifer Houston opens up about her family cattle ranch
At the 2015 Annual Meat Conference, Sam Gazdziak spoke with Jennifer Houston, NCBA Federation Division Chairman, about her family cattle ranch and consumer misconceptions.Sam Gazdziak:We're speaking here with Jennifer Houston. Now Jennifer, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your cattle ranch?
Jennifer Houston:Yes. My name is Jennifer Houston, I'm from Sweetwater, Tennessee. My husband and I have a farm in the eastern part of Tennessee. We also own a livestock option market where we sell cattle at auction. We have a lot of momma cows, we have cow calves, we have stocker cattle at our farm where we graze them on grass to gain some weight. We also feed some cattle in the Midwest and the Texas area.
Gazdziak:Now, There are a lot of consumer perceptions about what is going on in the cattle industry. A lot of it brought by activists who definitely have their own agenda. If you could talk to the consumer directly and let them know what the cattle side is really like, what would you like to tell them?
Houston:I would like to say that we have producers that care about the animals we raise. We are the ones out there, like this week when we had snow and ice and it's 40 below. And we are pulling the calf out of the pond. We wanna raise a safe wholesome food supply. We take care of our animals like they're babies. You know I have had calves in our kitchen. Raised them on a bottle. You know, they are our business but we care in animal welfare and a safe and wholesome product is top of mind. It's what I feed my children and I want it safe and wholesome for any consumer to feel good about feeding their children. It's nutrient dense food, it's a great food. But it's all the other intangibles that I would like them to know, that the producers have in mind every day when they go out there to feed, water, and take care of the animals.
Gazdziak: How long has your family been in the farm business?
Houston:My whole life. Our auction market is over 53 years old. It’s a family owned business, but my husband and I both families came from farms. I grew up on a cattle and hog farm. So all of our lives it's the only way of life I know. I am an animal science major from the University of Tennessee, and this is what I knew I wanted to do with the rest of my life.