What is the makeup and history of Barber Ranch?
Barber Ranch is an honoree of the Texas Family Land Heritage Program for 100+ years of continuous land ownership and agriculture production by the same family. The ranch has been family owned for 113 years. My parents, Dale and Mary, have devoted their entire lives to raising top notch Hereford genetics in the panhandle of Texas, and are two of the most respected and recognized people in the cattle industry. They have four children who are all involved in the ranch today: Justin Barber lives on the ranch and is involved with all facets of ranch activities. Justin’s wife Jenna is a veterinarian for Swann Animal Clinic in Amarillo and they have twin 2 year old girls: Henley and Beckett. Brett Barber and wife Reagan, also live and work on the ranch and have five children: Rylee, Bryden, Tanner, Tyler and Aidyn. Terri Barber is a southwest territory manager for Elanco Animal Health and currently resides in New Mexico. Jason, Jaci and Bode Barber live in Fort Worth where Jason manages the Purebred Division of Superior Livestock and is also a partner/co-founder of SmartAuctions.
What is your personal involvement in the operation?
My personal involvement in Barber Ranch focuses primarily on marketing and promotion with a shared interest in day to day operations when my schedule allows. With my involvement in the animal health industry I enjoy being able to network and learn through the dynamic opportunities afforded through an outside the box view of agriculture and the beef business. Helping my family actively market and promote our genetics to best suit the needs of our customers is what I find most fulfilling to me. Whether it’s helping a progressive commercial cattle operation find their next great herd sires or assisting a junior member in leadership opportunities or committing the time and resources to serve on Boards – these all encompass my current involvement with our operation.
What do you feel has made Barber Ranch successful?
Success is measured in a multitude of ways I believe. Certainly persistence and tenacity to always improve and continue to make breed-leading and industry strides has been our navigation tool. Being passionate, patient and diligent in everything we do continues to make us better. Above all, acting with integrity to earn our breed and industry’s trust and the privilege to be in – and stay in – this business is a major key to our success. I believe each of us has the inherent responsibility of carrying our principles forward to successive generations while taking what we find here and making it better and better.
What experiences in your life shaped you into the cattle producer that you are today?
I’ve been very fortunate to have enjoyed a career path that has always centered around beef cattle and agriculture in general. My roots are steeped in Hereford genes from the start having grown up on our ranch in the Texas Panhandle in a renowned area made famous by such ranching legends including the XIT, the LIT, Charles Goodnight among many others. Just being able to survive and thrive in a rather raw climate that this extreme part of the state provides certainly thickens one’s skin and shapes your core values of living. Being actively involved in 4-H and livestock and meats judging competitions from an early age helped develop my evaluation skills that have created numerous judging opportunities well past college. Growing up with parents who had a natural eye for great cattle certainly didn’t hurt either. Having the privilege of judging the North American International Livestock Exposition alongside my mother a few years ago would have to rank as one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve enjoyed. After two summer internships with the American Hereford Association and the International Brangus Breeders Association my goal was to stay involved in the beef industry providing exceptional customer service to members and their families. As such I served as the director for youth, shows and promotion for IBBA for seven and a half years before having the opportunity to experience the government side of the industry. For the following six years I served under then Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs as the director for livestock marketing for the state of Texas, an opportunity that allowed me to travel the world extensively promoting Texas livestock and genetics. What was extra special was the fact that both Susan and I were first females in these roles. When she was elected to Comptroller of Public Accounts for the state on her next mission, another door opened for me to join Elanco Animal Health – first as a branded beef consultant which led to roles within our food industry and consumer affairs group before joining the field sales staff a few years later.
Who has most inspired or encouraged you as a cattle producer over the years?
Most definitely my parents have inspired and encouraged me as well as some of our closest and most loyal cattle partners some of whom are located coast to coast. Also, some of the breed’s most well-known and respected cattlemen and women were also on my most-admired list including the late Wayne Haygood and Weldon Edwards, John Dudley and Minnie Lou Bradley of Bradley’s B3R Ranch, the American Angus Association’s first female president and another Texas Panhandle native who my Mom also had the privilege of interning under as a teenager. The Hereford employees from my youth were very uplifting and supportive as well. Among this list would be the great, late B.C. “Bud” Snidow, Jim Boyd, Jack Chastain and of course my youth leaders on a state and national level including Diane Johnson at Texas Hereford and Bonnie Coley-Malir at AHA. Our competitors would also be on this distinguished list as they have constantly kept us on top of our game.
What qualities do you think make cattle producers different than everyday Americans?
Cattle producers live and operate on a level high above most everyday Americans because they understand and do what it takes to provide for everyone regardless of their status. They have an inherent ability to withstand the ups and downs of market cycles, Mother Nature and the economy in general. They can perform at the highest level when everything around them seems in disarray. And they get up each day knowing this and persisting as it’s their life passion and goal.
What is your history with the AHA and the Hereford breed?
I have been a member of the AHA and Junior Hereford Association since I was old enough to join. Growing up with Hereford cattle my entire life afforded me leadership and showing opportunities on a state and national level that I thoroughly enjoyed partaking of. Attending national conferences, annual meetings and participating in all levels of leadership activities and scholarship opportunities have been my focus growing up in the breed. Since running for the AHA Board in 2013 as well as serving as a Vice President for the Texas Hereford Association and past member of the Texas Hereford Auxiliary I been heavily involved in the decision making process that continues to govern our Associations and staffs. Any and all opportunities to promote and support the Hereford breed have been my top priority throughout my career and in my travels both domestically and abroad. I very much enjoy working with our youth and helping create as many opportunities as possible to keep them involved and interested in our breed’s future. Barber Ranch is honored to have had the opportunity to help our youth organization reach their “Growing a Lasting Legacy” through donating this year’s HYFA Foundation Female that recently sold in Denver. We are also donating her full sister to be sold this Sunday in the Cowtown Invitational Sale held during our annual Texas Hereford events in Fort Worth. This will be the first animal donated for proceeds to benefit the newly created Texas Youth Foundation to help award leadership opportunities and scholarships for our youth in Texas.
Why did you want to lead the AHA?
I wanted to lead the AHA because I felt it was an incredible opportunity as a breeder and lifetime member to have the support of my state and southwest region to nominate me for the Board and also to have the time and experience needed to take on this leadership role. I wanted to be involved on an integral level that would allow me to best serve our membership while learning the intricate details of what is involved in the day to day operation and strategic planning for our futures. This was a dream I have had since I was a young member wanting to be more involved and more knowledgeable about our breed and association.
What do you think makes a good leader?
First and foremost to being a good leader is being a good listener. If you cannot understand or know what direction an organization needs to go you cannot be effective at leading them. Staying on top of current industry and global news along with anticipating our next steps and strategic goals is critical to being able to make informed, guided decisions. Having the trust and confidence of your members and colleagues is vital to operating as an effective team. Honesty, integrity and optimal ethical behavior are fundamental to leadership. With over ten committees on our AHA board, delegating is very important along with good communication. An effective team starts at the top and surrounding yourself with capable, creative people is something Jack Ward, AHA CEO, has certainly done. We are very blessed to have what I would deem as the industry’s very best creative minds working on our behalf.
What does your role as president of the AHA entail?
As president my role is to act as Chairman of the Board and preside at all meetings of the membership, the Board of Directors and the executive committee. As such I serve as the ex-officio member of every other standing or temporary committee and select our various committee appointments. Working with AHA staff, we set our spring and summer meetings as well as help plan our annual membership meeting. We are currently updating our strategic plan so working with various individuals on this important task allows me to interact with various industry segments and influencers in and out of our breed.
As one of the only women to serve on the AHA board and the first female president, do you approach issues or problems differently?
I don’t know that I approach issues or problems differently since I really have nothing to compare that to being the first female president; however, I do think a female’s perspective can be a great attribute to a board room and one that I hope is both appreciated and respected. My goal is to effectively and cooperatively find solutions to any issues or problems that arise with empathy and compassion.
What changes and/or advances do you hope to see the AHA make during the next year of your term?
We are being very progressive in our genetic testing and genomic enhancements. I am confident we will continue focusing on programs that will help our members produce genetics that will benefit from economically relevant traits highly sought in all industry segments. Our priority in identifying genetics that can build profitability will remain center plate as well as providing our staff and allied leaders the resources to maintain efficiency of member services. Marketing value based programs will also be a key component to ensuring Herefords are committed to industry demands whereby growing our CHB brand. It will be a great asset to have more feeders and packers aligned with our CHB goals and we have a phenomenal staff in place to achieve this. Equally important is continuing our support of NJHA, HYFA and NHW affiliates and their unparalleled growth in ensuring the next generation stays committed and successful.
Where do you see the Hereford breed going in future years?
With a staff second to none and progressive breeders raising the bar, I see the Hereford breed poised to continue our progress and growth in all areas including membership, registrations and transfers as well as market share in the beef industry through more aggressive Certified Hereford Beef marketing opportunities for our customers. In order to maintain our breed integrity, producers need to be mindful of their mating decisions and utilize all tools at hand including structural and breeding soundness evaluations. We can manage what we measure so the more valuable our tools are the more valuable our breed will be. It is with great gratitude and respect that I thank those who have served on this AHA Board and staff for allowing me, my family and all of us in this rewarding business today to enjoy our livelihoods. I look forward to contributing to future growth, profitability and success for all entities involved!