Farm Food Facts

Ranching with Angela Scott

October 12, 2023 USFRA
Ranching with Angela Scott
Farm Food Facts
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Farm Food Facts
Ranching with Angela Scott
Oct 12, 2023

This exclusive episode is a double feature for National Farmer's Day! Join us as we catch up with first-generation rancher Angela Scott at Honor the Harvest this year. She talks about her lessons learned as a newer rancher and that it's ok to ask questions!

Then join us for our second podcast episode of the day featuring fifth-generation farmer Andrew Lauver and his story about taking over the family farm.

Show Notes Transcript

This exclusive episode is a double feature for National Farmer's Day! Join us as we catch up with first-generation rancher Angela Scott at Honor the Harvest this year. She talks about her lessons learned as a newer rancher and that it's ok to ask questions!

Then join us for our second podcast episode of the day featuring fifth-generation farmer Andrew Lauver and his story about taking over the family farm.

Joanna (00:00):
Welcome back to Farm Food Facts. I'm your host Joanna Guza, and today we're gonna travel to Texas where we talk with Angela Scott. She's one of the owners of Scott Family Beef. Angela, if you could first start off by sharing a little bit about your beef operation.

Angela (00:15):
Thank you. So my husband and I are first generation ranchers in northeast Texas that provides us with some unique challenges and unique opportunities. So it's been a dream of mine. I actually grew up in a small town in northeastern California. My dad is a family practice doctor, and so how that works in a small town is everybody gets invited to brandings, right? And so we actually would go to brandings together, my dad and I. That is how I got bit by the agriculture bug I would say. And then if anybody has been bit by that same bug, you know exactly what I'm talking about. And I was actually super blessed that there were a lot of people who kind of held the door open for me as I was buying my first cattle and things like that. I started backgrounding sale barn cattle. And then when my husband and I met, we saw this opportunity to kind of combine our businesses.

Angela (01:04):
He had started his own cow calf herd. And so we saw this opportunity to combine our businesses in east Texas. And so now we actually raise beef and we sell most of our beef direct to the consumer. So I'm talking direct to households actually in the D F W area, um, which is Dallas-Fort Worth for anybody who's not familiar with the Texas geography, but Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas. And that has been an incredible opportunity for us as smaller ranchers to have a little bit more control over the price that we are taking. At the end of the day, the producers tend to be price takers rather than price makers. And that doesn't always, um, that's not always sustainable for a family business. It's also not always conducive to growth of the business. And so when we are able to actually factor in our cost of doing business and factor it into our breakevens and build breakevens that are fair to us and fair to the purchaser of this product, it also ensures the long-term sustainability of our ranch for many generations to come.

Joanna (02:10):
First generation. But you did tell me off mic, you have such an extensive background in agriculture. I wanna get the kind of the specs of the farm. How big is your operation and how many animals do you have?

Angela (02:20):
Ooh, I love that question. So, um, what's funny is that like for a long time I was a little bit self-conscious of this number just because it feels small, but we lease and own about 325 acres and we have about 50 cows at any given time. I was self-conscious of that number because I thought, oh, you know, like the real ranchers have 250 or 500 cows or thousands of cows. And fun fact, for anybody listening, the average cow herd in the United States is only 25 head. So we're actually big <laugh>, right?

Joanna (02:56):
And if you think about it, managing 50 cattle, that's, that's a lot of work. So you guys do have your hands full. I'd like to talk specifically about your direct selling to customers. Was that something that happened after Covid or when did that timeframe and and did Covid help you in that situation?

Angela (03:12):
That is such an excellent question, Joanna. So my husband and I actually got married in 2020 and I moved to Texas in 2020 <laugh>. So there was a lot that happened for us personally in 2020. And we saw that huge change in kind of the mentality of the country where for maybe the first time in our, certainly the first time in our lifetime, but maybe the first time in anybody's lifetime, there was this threat of like, we actually might not have food in the grocery store when we go, you know, if we, if we can even get out of our house to go to the grocery store, there's no guarantee that food is there. And so, or at least exactly what we want is there. And for so long we have had this privilege of growing up in a country where you can just go to the grocery store and pretty much get whatever you want, go home and make it that night for dinner.

Angela (04:02):
Well, a lot of people, I think for several reasons, wanted a deeper sense of security for them and for their family. And so yes, that actually led to a lot of people. Um, you know, you couldn't buy a freezer there. The freezers were out of stock everywhere because everybody was purchasing a freezer, putting it in their garage and filling it with as much as they could stockpiling. And fast forward, you know, we believe that all types of agriculture are absolutely essential. And so we don't sell direct to consumer necessarily because we believe that that is better than any other method. But people approached us and asked us, can we buy directly from you? And so for our operation and for the size that we are, it made a lot of sense and the opportunity was there. So we jumped in with both feet. We, my husband and I are, our faith is very important to us. And so we are always ready to just take an opportunity or to walk through a door that God opens that happened for us. And so we did. And it's been more successful than we thought possible.

Joanna (05:04):
That's Great. And, and now you, you took out that supply chain 'cause you guys are directly selling to the customer. What are some of the questions that they're asking about how their animals are raised and about their meat? And if you could share kind of that perspective.

Angela (05:17):
It is so much fun to hear all of the different questions that people have that as a producer I kind of take for granted questions from, I mean, it's everything from what does a cow even eat in a day? Like is it just grass or is it other things too all the way to, you know, how old are they when they're harvested and things like that. And these, these things that maybe we take for granted when we are heavily involved in production agriculture that are just things that people don't know and are curious about. And I've actually found that we have chosen because of our customer base to raise natural grass fed grain finished cattle. But what I've noticed is that people care a little bit less about those labels when they have that open communication to ask us any question they want about how that animal was raised. Or, um, you know, we share pretty freely about why we do what we do. We do vaccinate, here's why we do graze this way and here's why. And we do feed grain at the end of their life and here's why. And some of those things are, it's just people just wanna know

Joanna (06:25):
They're not targeting you for a different practice. They really, we always say quote unquote, people are scared to ask the stupid questions, but there's really no stupid question, especially if you're not involved in it.

Angela (06:35):
100%. Absolutely. And I try to tell people that all the time that the stupidest question is whatever question you don't ask because everybody, I, I mean I'm a first generation rancher, I am a beginner at this and I started knowing nothing. And the only way that you become more knowledgeable is to ask the question and maybe you're asking a question that nobody else is asking, which is where innovation happens.

Joanna (06:59):
Well Angela, I love hearing all the successes, but I know that it wasn't sunshine and rainbows through this whole process. You know, someone else that might be thinking about direct selling to customers. Can you walk through any challenges that you and your husband experienced through the process and kind of how you overcame them?

Angela (07:15):
If you are out there listening to this and thinking about selling direct to consumer, I just want to encourage you that it is okay to start small, start with one and then scale it from there and you'll experience growing pains. And what I mean by that is, I can only speak to our situation in particular, but for example, freezer storage space was a huge issue for us because it was pretty easy to go from slaughtering one animal to slaughtering seven animals. However, you have to have the freezer space to put seven animals worth of beef. And I guess for us, we have had, I know a lot of producers have run into issues where they can't even get butcher appointments, they can't even get into their local butcher. So let me backtrack for just a second and say that number one, building that relationship with local butchers, hopefully plural, not just one but several. And then also having a plan for where that beef is gonna go. Once it is now ready for human consumption, is it gonna go straight from the butcher to the family? Are you gonna deliver it straight to the family? Are you gonna deliver it straight to the restaurant or are you gonna have to hold onto it? Because if you do, what's the cost of that and do you have the infrastructure to do so? And then above all, get the pencil to the paper. 'cause a lot of times, I mean I love numbers and I love spreadsheets, but I love people more than that. So I would rather <laugh> and I love cows more than that. So I would rather talk to people and be out with my cows than run anything through an Excel spreadsheet. But if you don't do that, you don't know if you're making any money. We cannot, as producers anywhere, we cannot participate in practices that do not lead to the financial sustainability of our operation.

Joanna (09:04):
I'm from Wisconsin and some of the farms that are direct selling their product, they have to work through debt cap to make sure that their food is like that. What they're selling is safe. Does your farm do something similar and follow certain regulations?

Angela (09:16):
That is such a great question. A lot of those regulations are state dependent. So that brings up an excellent point. Be familiar with what your state regulations are and for the love <laugh>, follow those regulations and do what you can to be a responsible participant in those. So for us, we actually work with a couple local butchers that they offer USDA inspection of each individual animal. And so when we get to work with those butchers, we can sell meat by the pound. A lot of times what we do is we sell meat by the share we have right now the demand is greater for a quarter or a half or a whole than it is for an individual stake. Um, at least in our market, however, we have been expanding a little bit more to sell individual pounds of ground beef because that is a huge staple in most American households.

Angela (10:09):
And so just having that, again, back to the relationship with the butcher, who has that USDA inspected the capability to USDA inspect the animal because there's a difference between a USDA inspected facility and a USDA inspected animal, or at least in Texas determines that as those two things as different. So all that to say it depends on where the beef is going, right? And in a shares situation that USDA inspection of the individual animal isn't mandatory, but we like to have it anyway because just another level of ensuring the safety of this food for our customer.

Joanna (10:44):
So you told me you're passionate about cattle and people, and the third item is making sure that you're involved. Can you speak to how being involved has impacted your ranch and encouragement for other people to get involved?

Angela (10:57):
Absolutely. So specifically with Honor the Harvest, this is my first year at Honor the Harvest, and it has been such an eye-opening experience for me. I cannot believe the diversity in who from the supply chain is represented here. Everything from, I mean, it didn't even cross my mind that clean energy would be here, but of course they should be. Right? And that makes so much sense. And we as producers, we have a lot going on in the day to day. Everybody does. I don't mean to say that we have more going on than the average person, but we have a lot going on day to day, whether we're in harvest or calving or we're hanging or you know, it's just like the cows got out. And so at the end of the day, to have time away from the Farmer Ranch, even though it is challenging to do that, like we talked about off mic Joanna, it's challenging to take the time away and it, it takes a lot of effort to leave the Farmer Ranch. But the reason it's worth it is when we come up for air and we look around, we remember we are part of this huge system of people that are all resources, not only intelligence resources, but even financial resources. And we can work together to make us, us as a team, us as a global agriculture system better together. And then we can take those things back to our Farmer Ranch and have a broader perspective of the why behind what we're doing.

Joanna (12:17):
Such great insight and advice from a first generation beef farmer. That's Angela Scott. She's one of the owners of Scott Family Beef, located in Texas. If there's a topic you'd like heard on Farm Food Facts, send me an email at Until next time, I'm Joanna Guza for Farm Food Facts.