Farm Feature Friday: Colin Miller of Rutherford County, Tennessee
Q&A by TCA Spring Intern, Rebekah Brown
Job: Rutherford Farmers’ Cooperative Murfreesboro Animal Health and Livestock Equipment Salesman
Hometown/Community: Christiana, TN Rutherford County
Community engagement: President of Rutherford County Young Farmers & Ranchers, President Rutherford County Cattlemen's Association. Board Member of Rutherford County Farm Bureau, Rutherford County Agricultural Advisory Board, and Christiana Miller Cemetery
Other highlighted personal info: I was born and raised in Christiana TN. If I am not at work, or at one of my many board meetings, or on my own farm working. You can find me down the road from my farm helping my mentor Donald Jernigan on his large beef cattle operation. He has been the greatest mentor to me and has helped me learn and grow my operation since I started at 16 years old.
Q: How long has your family been farming? (Give a bit of History if you can/want)
A: Both sides of my family have been farming in some form as far back as I have found. The Miller's first settled in what is now Christiana in 1796. After my 10 times great grandfather received a 1,000 acre land grant for service in the Revolutionary War. We have been farming on the land ever since. We own the last 40 acres of the original land grant. We operate part of our cow-calf operation here and the rest on a farm we own and lease in Bell Buckle TN. My family has farmed many different commodities from milking, corn, wheat, hogs, tobacco and beef cattle.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?
A: I always loved riding on the tractors as a kid. Being with my grandads on the farm is one of my best memories as a kid. Working in the hay fields, checking on baby calves; I loved it all.
Q: Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?
A: I have had many role models in my life, that I have been truly blessed with. Donald Jernigan was the first to help me set up my own operation. He has allowed me to come into his operation and help him make decisions on his cattle needs and help him in his everyday jobs. He has really taken me under his wing and taught me so much and given me so much. By doing this he has given me the real-life hands-on experience you need in this field. Whether it is helping putting up hay, helping him order his calf vaccines and feed for weaning time, or helping him get his calves marketed and hauled. He has let me in and taught me all at the same time. I am truly blessed to have a great mentor and friend.
Q: Describe your operation…(Breed(s), type of operation, acres etc.)
A: I run a primarily black angus cow-calf operation. I will also have several feeder steers throughout the year that I will raise and sell. I also raise some hay on our farm.
Q: What are you most passionate about in your operation?
A: This is a profession that keeps me so close to GOD. To see what God has put on this earth for us as farmers to care for is a great blessing. From helping a mother give birth at 10 o'clock at night to the cold wet winters, I feel so blessed and honored to be one of GOD'S caretakers. Farming is my passion and I love it so much through the good and the bad.
Q: What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?
A: The land in and around Rutherford county is becoming less farm land and more residential and commercial. The young farmers that want to buy land for their own can't around here because of the high property values. A farmer can't afford to buy more land that's priced at a developer's price. The public is also so uneducated about our farming practice it is scary. They read the Internet and let others tell them how bad farmers are to the animals and the land. It's time for us young farmers to stand up and be the Voice of Agriculture. We have to take a stand for what we live and breathe in. Otherwise the Agriculture industry will continue to be attacked and continue to shrink.
Q: Where do you see yourself and your operation in 10 years?
A: I hope to have a 40 to 50 head cow-calf operation. I hope to continue on working for the Rutherford Farmers Co-op in some capacity. I will continue to be a community leader and advocate for Agriculture.
Q: How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?
A: By buying better genetics in both my bulls and cows, I hope to raise calves that will bring top market value. So that way I can bring in as much income off each calf and the buyers will be happy in getting a top raised calf.
Q: How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?
A: Being involved in so many various AG boards I hope my young opinion is taken and helps make changes. Us as young farmers are the future of farming. I try to help my customers at the Co-op make good health and nutrition decisions when buying products from us. If I can help get all the farmers on good health and nutrition protocols then I hope it will help them and the beef industry. When we sell healthy well-fed cattle it not only helps the one selling, but it also helps us all. When Tennessee is known for higher quality cattle; buyers will pay a higher premium for them. I hope when I retire I can say that I have helped the beef industry and agriculture in Tennessee.
Q: What could the existing farmers do most to help young farmers such as yourself?
A: Take a young person under your wing that is trying to get started and help teach and guide them in the right path. The older existing farmers are retiring or passing away, and there are fewer young farmers to take their place. We need the knowledge and guidance from the existing farmers so we can keep farming into the future.
Q: What is your favorite beef dish?
A: T-bone steak cooked to medium
Q: Quote or anything you would like to share.
A: As farmers no matter the age we all need to stand up a be a voice for Agriculture. We are the ones who need to be educating the public about Agriculture not the internet. This is our life and passion we have to let our voice be heard to keep our industry strong and thriving.