By Connie Lechleitner, OCJ field reporter
Kris and Becky Vincent’s philosophy is that leaders should lead. When they see a void in leadership, they’re usually quick to step in — and so they have at the local, regional, state and national levels of the Ohio and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
As a result, the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association recently recognized the East Canton couple as the Industry Excellence award winners.
“This award is nominated by your peers, so we had no idea,” Kris Vincent said. “We were totally shocked.”
The Vincents, 13 years ago, found that Stark County did not have a Cattlemen’s organization. They, along with 10 other area cattlemen, set out to change that.
“We were told that it had been tried before and failed,” Vincent said. “I knew there was a need for education and resources to help our industry improve, and that we could better reach out to consumers too.”
The Stark County Cattlemen’s Association is now a successful organization that provides educational programs for county members and also hosts Young Farmer programs and funds scholarships, the Beef 509 program, the BEST program and youth beef programs throughout the county. One unique award the county association presents is a Restaurant Appreciation Award.
“The directors and their spouses or significant others go out to dinner every other month, and the directors pick a restaurant. We each order a beef entrée and we evaluate it on a point scale for things like cleanliness, atmosphere, taste and presentation,” Vincent said. “We add up the points at the end of the year and recognize a restaurant with a plaque. It’s a way to recognize a local restaurant for their support of the beef industry, and reach out to the local media and the consumer, too.”
As OCA’s District 3 director, Vincent worked hard to coordinate an annual educational program for cattlemen in the 12 counties he served in Northeast Ohio.
“I wanted to provide our members with tools they could use,” he said. “But I also wanted to challenge their thought processes. For example, I always ask how much it costs to keep a cow. So many times we neglect to do the math.”
For the past five years, Vincent also served as OCA’s representative on the Policy Committee to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and he has also served on the Nutrition and Health Committee.
“I carried Ohio’s message to NCBA,” he said. “I learned how hard NCBA and OCA work to represent our industry, and I’ve made so many contacts with our legislative team. I can tell you that our voice does matter.”
While Vincent racked up committee appointments, Becky too has represented Ohio, working
trade shows for PBS, as well as serving on the Allied Industry Council within OCA and on the Membership Committee at both the state and national level.
“Between my work at the trade shows and Kris’ work on the committees, we’re able to be a great team,” said Becky Vincent.
Both Vincents are members of the Top Hand Club, which is required to recruit a minimum of the three NCBA members each year. They also well understand the need to interact with consumers regarding their beef products. They sold freezer beef at a farm market every Saturday for several years.
“People want to know who they’re buying their product from,” Kris said. “Today we have so many more cuts of beef, and consumers don’t always know what they want or how to prepare it. The Beef 509 program was so helpful to me in that. I want to help beef producers be more comfortable with what they raise and how they interact with the consumer.”
The Vincents operate a 50-head cow-calf operation on Kris’ grandfather’s farm, Tri Pine Farm. They converted a sheep and hog and four-crop rotational farm with corn, oats, wheat and hay into a rotational grazing farm with cattle and no crops over a seven to eight year period, building fences and improving the cover crops little by little. Eventually, they used Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds to construct a concrete pad and hoop barn for storing hay and conducting winter feeding.
Tri Pine Farm uses an Angus based herd crossed on Hereford bulls.
“I really enjoy selecting the right bulls for the right heifers, and because of all the data and technology we have today, I believe producers have more tools available to them than ever before,” Kris said. “I fully believe in the value of heterosis — those baldy calves we produce are just outstanding. They have great carcass quality and great female qualities, so it’s a win for the bull/steer calves we sell and for the heifers we keep in the herd.”
The farm’s baldy heifers are bred back to Angus bulls to enhance female qualities.
“I’m looking for good udder quality, good feet and legs and docility,” Vincent said. “I need for our cows to have good udder and teat size, be able to get around the farm and be quiet when calving and not mind me being in the pen with them. I’m all about the heifers.”
The farm’s bull and steer calves often end up showing successfully at the Stark County Fair youth cattle show. With a 50-head operation, the Vincents feel they have a manageable farm size.
“We graze pastures for usually a day or two and then move the cows, but we do feed hay that we harvest on rented ground during the winter. We also have a few weaned heifers that we’re grain feeding for growth, so that they will have good yearling weights and be prepared for our breeding program,” he said.
The Vincents believe producers must be amenable to change.
“The markets are constantly changing, and we have to change too,” Kris said.
Changing conditions led the couple to the difficult decision to discontinue their freezer beef business.
“Corn prices doubled and fuel prices doubled, and it became impossible to maintain a profit margin that is acceptable, so we stopped doing the freezer beef business,” he said. “I think there is a great opportunity to be successful with a store, but we’re just not in a position to do it — yet.”