Farmer of the Month: J.K. Dodge Farms
By Robin Gregg with support from: https://showmebeef.com/meet-the-ranchers/meet-the-dodge-family/
Jason and Katie Dodge of Paris are owners of a cow/calf operation that started back in 2010 between Paris and Santa Fe Missouri.
Jason shares, “My wife and I run the farm with the help of our children, Kenzie, Hadley, and Daxton, plus additional support from a neighborhood high school kid that we hire each year. Our operation got started when we bought some cattle from our siblings. We started with 20 head of cattle and have grown to over 100, along with some chickens and goats. Katie's parents solely raise crops about 5 miles from us, and it's where we source all the feed for our cattle. About three years ago, we decided to finish our cattle ourselves rather than selling them to a feed yard.’
‘You know what you're getting. It's exciting because we've never had anything like this before. Missouri is third in the U.S. in cattle production, but we've never been able to process our beef in-state like this until now because it's all been shipped out. It's nice to keep it at home. As small business owners, we understand the need to keep things as local as possible. It's one of the reasons we sought out this program. During COVID these past 2 years, our business was counted upon locally with the meat shortage.” 10% of their crop is sold per market value locally to repeat customers and to a local locker. It’s a great product and safe for everyone.
Katie says, “It goes back to our kids. We have a garden at home, and we try to raise our own produce to teach our kids what they're eating and where it comes from. For our kids and other families to take home a quality product that started in Missouri, was raised, and finished in Missouri, it's pretty exciting to be a part of that.”
Jason adds, “We feel pretty fortunate to be able to raise our kids on the farm. Not many children get the experience they do. The farm teaches them to care about something other than themselves. Animals can't tell you how they feel, so the kids have to constantly check on them, keep records, and learn about ailments that need to be addressed. Living on the farm allows us to create a bond with the kids. They love it, whether it's just riding four-wheelers, checking cows, fixing fences, or playing in the creek while we're working in the fields. It creates a bond that can't be gained in other facets of life.”
Katie adds, “We both grew up on farms and spent time living in the city. We spent our first year of marriage in St. Louis and decided the farm was where we wanted to raise our family. We wanted to be closer to our parents, have a farm, and raise cattle because of the values it teaches them: hard work, responsibility, continuing our family's heritage. Even though we don't farm directly with our parents anymore, we still pass down what we learned from them.”
As a Senior at Paris High School, Katie was the first FFA President after the new FFA Chapter was charted. Jason was a Junior at the time and was also a member of the FFA.
Kids added, “It's fun. Our favorite things to do are play outside, walk around and see the cows and their babies, and play with Toby (one of the farm dogs).”
The Dodge family retains most heifers and is closed herd. They have a partnership with Show Me Beef where their product goes to retail and food service businesses. “Katie and I are also a part of the OPAA MOBeef for kids’ program. It is a program where local producers can provide beef to the local school district for our kids to be able to have beef on the menu for lunch. We are donating our first whole beef to the program next week. It will be processed at Center locker into roast and ground beef then brought back to Paris for the school kids to eat for lunch. This is a fairly new program that is exciting to us because we are providing a homegrown, good quality, local product to the kids of Paris R2. For more info on that program contact OPAA area manager Rita Herron or FFA advisor Josh Bondy,” Jason added.
Show Me Beef™ is processed locally at Missouri Prime Beef Packers. Missouri Prime Beef Packers is an independent beef processing facility located in Pleasant Hope, Missouri. This plant is USDA inspected and has extensive state of the art food safety protocols in place to ensure the safest possible product. We care about the animals, the environment, and the people that work in the plant. The wastewater facility has been upgraded to ensure wastewater impact to the environment is minimized as much as possible. Limiting the trucking of feed and cattle greatly reduces the carbon footprint of Show Me Beef™.
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