By Lon Tegals, UAM
MONTICELLO, Ark. – May 29, 222 – Jason Meier, a Monticello cow producer, was the big bidder at the inaugural Aggie Auction held at the University of Arkansas at Monticello campus in April. Meier, who raises cattle as a hobby, purchased three Beefmaster Charolais heifers while his dad purchased a Beefmaster bull.
“Knowing their cattle’s background, their quality, knowing the herd and where they come from helped make a decision to bring them into my herd,” said Meier. “When you go to a public auction you don’t always have the background. Most cattle guys can tell by looking at the cow, calf, or a replacement heifer what they are getting,” Meier said. “But it comforts me to know what exactly what I was buying.”
“This is a new thing that the university is doing here on the UAM farm. We’ve always done a traditional field day, giving educational talks, tour the farm, we’ve always done that,” said UAM farm manager Greg Montgomery. “In my mind I thought people want see cattle, they enjoy going to auctions. I also thought this might be an opportunity to showcase some of our genetics that we have developed here on the farm.”
On Saturday, April 23, Montgomery and the UAM Agriculture Alumni Association hosted a new event called the Aggie Comeback, giving agriculture alumni a chance to visit campus for some festivities. Events included a tractor farm tour, educational seminars, sheep herd introduction and steak dinner at the Ridge. The cattle production auction Saturday morning was one of the highlighted events of the Aggie Comeback. Montgomery put three of UAM’s genetically bred finest bulls and 10 heifers on the auction block. It was a small auction by any standard, Montgomery said, but also the college’s first.
Meier is 2003 graduate of UAM with a major in soil sciences. He is now a full-time product development manager for a chemical company. He consults farmers on chemicals for row crops and pastures. In addition to being a father, he also helps his dad operate a 65 head cattle farm just outside Monticello. He has known Montgomery since attending UAM agriculture classes with him back in 1998.
“When I ask Greg about these cattle, he said, ‘Yeah they’re good to go.’ I take his word for it. I can trust him. I know the work they’ve done. I’ve got full confidence in the advice they are giving me,” Meier said.
“When I showed up that morning I had already looked them in the corral, made my decisions on which heifers I wanted to buy, which ones I wanted to bring to my herd,” continued the Monticello cow producer. “When the bidding started, I was kind of excited. All that excitement goes into it, you get an adrenaline rush when you start bidding. I was able to buy the first three right off the bat that I wanted. The price for me was awesome.
“It helped knowing where the money was going. To help the college out. To support the program, made it easier in my mindset when I was buying these cattle,” said Meier.
The auction was held indoors by video in the conference room of the Ag Building. It was standing room only, with about 100 bidders both local and regional in attendance. The auctioneer services were donated by Dale McKiever. Up for auction were 10 open heifers and three bulls.
“To my knowledge, this is the first of its kind happening in here, in the state, happening on a university campus,” Montgomery said. If you go back a long time ago, we used to have a bull test here on the farm. We would test and sell those bulls in the auditorium of the Ag Building. With that mindset, I went back to when I was a kid and would come out here with my brother,” said Montgomery. “I thought it would be cool and people would engage. I thought we had a brand with the university and thought we could offer cattle buyers would be interested in.
“I was happy with the turnout, happy with the way the auction went. It was a good weekend, it sure was,” said Montgomery.
Montgomery said the profits from the auction which will go back into the farm operations and into continuing the breeding program. “The end goal for the university, for the farm, is educational purposes for the students. We can increase the quality of the genetics and show students on how to do that. What better way to show students how to be profitable or to manage cattle than to do it ourselves right here on this farm,” he said.
Meier said he hopes to come back to future auctions at UAM.
“I’m a third-generation cattle producer on a cow/calf farm. I grew up right next door on my dad’s farm,” said Meier. “I started out with one cow my grandfather gave me as a wedding present. And over the years I built a herd. I was able to buy some from my neighbor, buy some from friends, and now some from the university program which I hope to continue to do. I built my herd up, I now have 17 momma cows,” he said. “It takes time. It’s not easy but well worth the time and investment.”
Meier credits his success in life and his growing herd to his time at UAM.
“I have to give credit; a lot of my success is due to U of A Monticello for what they’ve done. For the ag program especially. Getting me trained, qualified and ready to go out in the job market and be a good sought-after employee for these companies,” he said. “As you can see now, the success of their ag program is now the success of my cow herd. For me, I’ll be going forward and buying more quality replacement heifers to keep my herd more profitable.”
The University of Arkansas at Monticello is a comprehensive system of postsecondary education in, Southeast Arkansas. UAM offers more than 70 distinct academic tracks for students seeking graduate, undergraduate and certificate programs. The Monticello campus offers associate, baccalaureate, and selected master’s degrees. The UAM Colleges of Technology in Crossett and McGehee provide classes leading to certificates of proficiency, technical certificates, and associates of applied science degrees.
(This story is courtesy of the University of Monticello College of Forestry, Agriculture & Natural Resources.)