Jacqueline Leffler is a worker.
She's also a thinker.
And a competitor.
When you throw in her father, Bill, and grandfather, Jackie, who had business cards listing their contact info alongside the slogan, "Leffler Farms, Inc...Where Agriculture is a Profession," it's a recipe for success.
In addition to farming alongside her dad and grandpa, Jacquelyne has started a direct-to-consumer beef business, Leffler Prime Performance, that helps her add value to their family's stocker/backgrounder and cattle feeding business.
In addition, she coaches athletes competing in track and field throwing events.
She's also been part of various programs to help tell farmers' story to our consumers, one of which is "A Farmer's Journey." Links are below.
A Farmer’s Journey: FieldView™ Documentary Series (climate.com)
Well, Merry Christmas. And thanks for tuning in to episode 29 of practically ranching today, we get to visit with Jacqueline Leffler. Jacqueline is a farmer. She's a beef producer and the stalker and background or phase. She as a side hustle started a direct consumer beef business that she calls Leffler prime performance. She's a former thrower. Trakstar from, Americus, Kansas, then Kansas state university. And she's an advocate for agriculture and an inspiration, really, to a lot of us as we, uh, as we talk with Jacqueline, it doesn't matter if it's about sports or about farming. Or about telling our story or even delivering direct to consumer beef to consumers and tell them that beef industry story as well. Jacqueline has a wonderful track record. Yes, pun intended. A wonderful track record of seeing a challenge. And bust in her tail to turn it into an opportunity. And I think you'll hear several different opportunities that she has seen come to fruition in her life. by doing exactly that. And so I thought this was a really great Christmas episode. No, we don't talk about Santa Claus or Christ's birth or anything like that, but it does remind us to see the good to see the good in people to see the good and opportunities. And I think, uh, the message that Jacqueline has and, and the, uh, The opportunities that she has taken. tell us just that. So. Thank you all for listening as always. Uh, I know it's cold, probably wherever you are, as you're listening to this. I hope that you and the livestock and your family are all safe and, and, and taken care of. And I hope you have a blessed Christmas. Thank you again for listening.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
Well, Jacqueline, thank you very much for joining us today on practically Ranching Our Things in Americus Kansas.Track 1:
It's a little chilly this morning. Uh, pretty windy right now coming from the north, so it's a little bit of change of pace. It actually feels like winter today.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
for sure. Will, um, so that we all know a little bit of your story and, and a little bit about, your family's operations there. fill us in, tell us, tell us what brought you to here and, and then uh, some of the scope of your all's business.Track 1:
Yeah, absolutely. So I grew up in Americas, Kansas, which is pretty close to Emporia. grew up on your typical Kansas farm and ranch operation in the Flint Hills of Kansas. And, um, I'm the fourth generation of Leffler Farms Incorporated, and we were established in 1941. And we grow corn, soybeans, and wheat. And then we also raise, stocker backgrounding, and then we retain most of those cattle into fats. Um, and that's kind of where my business comes into play value added. where I sell direct to consumer, beef, through my business loeffler Prime performance. And so growing up, you know, I watched my dad and my grandpa put in long hours and work hard and sacrificed missing some stuff, but still, always showing up too at the same time. I don't know how they did it. but I had the best fan club, you know, within my family growing up. but I thought to myself, man, it, it does not look fun to work in agriculture. I thought it looked horrible. I didn't mind helping as a kid, but. As a day-to-day job, I just thought, I don't think I could ever do that. and so I got really involved in, uh, sports growing up. Both my sister, Natalie and I both played a lot of sports and, found out early on I was really good at track and field and. Uh, I was very fortunate, gotta start out with a coach, that actually coached the collegiate level for several years. And so, um, that kind of gave me, uh, a step above the rest, I guess you could say. And, had the opportunity to not form too many bad habits and learn correctly from the get go. And so I, I owe, uh, that coach almost everything athletically. uh, he taught me from the ground up and helped mold me. Not only a good athlete, but a good person. And, ultimately, finished my high school career with eight state championships and the shot put in discus and state records and, you know, all the things. I could talk about that forever. But, ended up getting, opportunities to go almost anywhere I wanted to for college. So that's, that's kind of where my, uh, fork in the path kinda led. And, um, I thought at that time I wanted to pursue some type of sports ministry. Uh, maybe work with like Fellowship of Christian athletes or Athletes in Action or coach Collegiately, something to do with sports, cuz that, that was all that mattered in my life at that point was how far could I make something. And, uh, ended up traveling all over the us trying to figure out what, college I wanted to attend and somehow, I guess all that purple in my bedroom ended up pulling through and I ended up just an hour away from home at Kansas State University. And so I competed there, um, on the track.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
think I was the first girl to ever receive a full ride, and so super thankful for the opportunity to come outta school debt free. And, uh, five years of getting to do what I love the most. so I spent my time up there. I ended up with degrees in kinesiology, pre-med and families. Studies in human services. And so when most people find out I went to K State and didn't study ag and see what I'm doing now, they look at me like I'm crazy. and sometimes I look at it, you know, look back and think, how did I end up here? And so, once I graduated, I, um, we had a hired, or actually we were renting out the house that I live in now, and, um, kind of decided I was gonna just move in there until I could figure out where I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. Um, I think we're going on almost 10 years and I'm still sitting in this house and so I think everybody's, uh, pretty happy and excited with how everything kind of unfolded from that point. But that's kind of how I ended up back home on our family's operation was I moved in and no one kicked me out and I didn't find a job that I liked, so I just started helping my dad and grandpa and next thing I knew I was working on the farm.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
a great story and one that, uh, is probably not, as you said, your typical path into production agriculture. But, I got a degree in animal science and industry from K State, and, um, I. Sometimes I think I should have gotten a degree in psychology or business or something like that because, uh, you know, the classes that I took, not that there's anything wrong with taking agriculture classes and returning to production ag, but you know, we were balancing rations in, in remnant nutrition with meat and bone meal in 1995 and 1996. I mean, you know, things. are not even legal substances to put into a ration today. So things change so much that I think as long as you get the building blocks learn how to work with people and learn how to something that you mentioned that you'd already figured out in high school and that is. When you have someone, in your case, a track coach can give you the fundamentals and the foundation to do it right, you take advantage of that and you say that that coach gave you a step above the rest. But how many people had that opportunity and didn't take it? And so those are, those are some things that I think probably, um, benefit, you as much as anything and ensure as much as any agronomy or animal science degree probably could have at K State. So besides not finding that, job that took you across the world, Ministering to athletes. Um, why are you farming? What was it that said, you know what, I think I'll just it out and, and keep farming with dad and grandpa.Track 1:
Yeah, so I got injured a lot when I was at K State and so I, you know, it was kind of like they'd run you through a shoot, fix you up and get you out to pasture and do your thing again. And so I had a lot of downtime, but was still able to accomplish everything that I wanted to. So I was kind of in a unique situation where I was really only getting to train maybe five months out of the year, and the rest of the time I was recovering. You know, blowing out a shoulder or a hip or a foot or whatever it might have been. And so I had to find something to fill that time with. And during that time I started volunteer coaching, a little kid, track and field team and it, I was just actually working out when I wasn't supposed to be. And I saw all these kids show up to Ahern Field House and I thought, what is going on here? Like, I'm gonna get in trouble cause I'm not supposed to be here. I'm not cleared yet to be doing what I'm doing and. There was this kid that I just kept watching, throw the shot put, and I thought, man, he, he's got something. And I mean, he was young. I don't know if he was even 10 yet. And I walked up to his parents and asked how, how do I get involved in this? And um, next thing I knew, I was volunteer coaching for the Manhattan Track Club and, that kid ended up getting a scholarship and going to Texas a and m. but the cool part of that story is his, uh, his mom is now the dean of the vet department at K State, Bonnie Rush, and, uh, Bonnie and Kevin, they, they took me in as their own in college and, I ended up being surrounded with people who worked in agriculture. but it was a different type agriculture than I had ever really been around and then it just so happened, um, after church on Sundays. A couple by the name of Mr. And Mrs. Richardson, would invite a group of us over to, to lunch after church. And he was the current dean of the vet department. And so they started to peak my interest in animal science and kind of taught me, you know, those two families showed me that agriculture could be cool. Um, and I didn't know what that looked like. but I needed somebody outside of my family to show me that. And that's what those two families really did for me. You know, they showed up just like my family and supported me and they're still people I drop in and see and, they're, sometimes you need that encouragement outside of your family. to show you that something could be neat or cool or something you may wanna be a part of that you never knew even though you were involved with it your whole life. And, and I think that's kind of what intrigued me to, to take that first load of stuff home from Manhattan and put it in that house that I live in now. You know, I, I think I knew deep down there was an opportunity here, but I didn't know what it looked like and I was willing to explore and figure it out and, you know, I truly believe that God has a plan for everybody. And I think sometimes he gets a pretty good laugh when he hears us talking about our plan. And you know, I, I still to this day say that's why, you know, God makes crooked trees. He's got a sense of humor. And, you know, I found myself working side by side with my grandpa that whole summer and. Building a set of pins and I ended up with the opportunity to coach at Emporia State University while working on our family farm. And so the first two or three years home, I kind of had the best of both worlds. I was college coaching and I was working with my family. you know, with two generations by my side, and I don't think a lot of people have that opportunity. and in the end, you know, I mean, agriculture ended up winning out. Um, my grandpa was starting to phase out of the farm and I was starting to get involved, um, you know, with Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Livestock Association and that network, that group of people that I started to gain and surround myself with. Really made me realize like, this is where I wanna be. And so that's when I kind of jumped in with two feet and figured out how I was gonna make it work, being home and, you know, the support and encouragement of my family too, for allowing me the opportunity to come home. I know not every kid my age is getting that opportunity that quickly. So I'm very, very lucky that we're a family that, you know, just figures things out when we have a gut feeling. It's what we need to do. We, we try to make it work.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
Well, and it looks like to me, just looking from the outside in, that both your dad and your grandfather are, are some of those who are willing to say, yeah, we can try that. I mean, it's not. Always that easy as, as any of us in a multi-generational farm know. But, um, too often I see and and hear stories about folks who return to their family ranch, family farm, are there for 30 years before they ever get to make a decision. And, and that's tough. That is so tough. and you know, obviously you came back and, and. paid due respect to the prior generations that you were working with. But when there was an opportunity to say, Hey, how come we're doing this this way? You ask that question and quite often they didn't just say, because that's the way we're doing it. And walk away. I, I looks to me like they've, they've given you some opportunities. So tell us a little about Leffler Farms Incorporated and then I guess move into what Leffler Prime performance is and how those two work hand in glove.Track 1:
Yeah, so. Loeffler Farms Incorporated is pretty well just your typical farm and ranch operation. And so, um, we grow corn, soybeans, and wheat. Um, we do double crop our wheat acres. Um, and we've just tried to be progressive, trying to implement different technologies. one of those technologies is field view. Um, and so we've tried to utilize, you know, d. Tech where we can analyze that data, make sure we're being efficient with the land that we have. And so instead of, I guess taking the approach of trying to expand and get bigger, we're just trying to figure out how can we do better? And I think that's an approach that sometimes isn't always looked at as positive. Cuz everybody thinks growth is what makes you better. Um, I think we've really focused on that ROI aspect and trying to collect as much data as we can so we can make better decisions and real-time decisions when we're out there farming. Um, and so that's kind of what that side of it looks like on the cattle side. Um, we were cow calf when I was growing up. And we got out of that in, I think 2001 is when Tyson quit killing an Emporia. And that changed a lot of operations around here. I know Ryan Arndt talked about that on one of your previous podcasts and it's, it's one of those things where we kind of had to make a decision. We were either gonna keep, you know, full-time help that's outside of the family, you know, having a hired hand. keep having the cow herd but have to totally figure out how to change what we were doing at the same time. Cuz locally we just didn't have that option anymore to just run'em 20 minutes down the road to, um, to get killed. And so, We ended up switching into more of a backgrounding, uh, feeder and then retaining into fats. Um, and now we feed all of those out at Palenske Ranch, just 20 minutes down the road. And, for us it's been really good. It's allowed us to utilize the market a little bit more, and we've gotten along really well. So, you know, we've got our own feed lot, um, just across the section from my house. And, um, we've got a nice working facility at my house that my dad and I fixed up together a few years ago, and really excited to, to get into utilizing that a little bit more And, and trying to figure out how we can take some different weights of calves at different times a year to, to maybe hit a few different market points. Um, cuz as you know, that market's just ebb and flowing with every headline. That's, that's changing things. And so that the more dynamic we can be and the more versatile we can be, I think the longer we're gonna be able to be here.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
That managing the risk and giving yourself some options is, is what it's all about today. And yeah, you've even, uh, I got a message from you there a month or so ago about, getting some Dale Banks customers, CAS bots, so that's, that's pretty exciting, stuff. I'm interested sold the cows and moved into backgrounding and finishing the local processing plant quit. Harvesting cattle almost seems like the opposite of what a lot would say. but I assume you were retaining ownership on those calves that you were coming out of those that native cow herd with and, and, uh, didn't want to keep on doing that.Track 1:
Yeah, for the most part. Um, I was also pretty young at that time, so I can't give you a ton of history on, on how we did things back then. But, you know, I think it was just one of those decisions of. Trying to figure out more so the labor issue, rather than what type of cattle, herd that we wanted to have. And for us it, it was to maybe, you know, downsize on the workload. cuz you cow calf guys, you guys are out there a whole lot more than we're out there at the feed lot it seems like. And so it allowed us to cut back on some of those hours long, long nights and early, early mornings, checking for new calves and. and whatnot. And so, I think going into how we're feeding now and, and buying calves out of the Dakotas, um, has been an excellent change for us. you know, death loss has been a lot less than when we first started doing what we're doing now, buying out of Georgia and getting some of them high risk southern calves and. And so it's been really good for us. We've really enjoyed it. We use a couple, um, backgrounders here locally, uh, to start some calves for us and that helps free us up a little bit on that labor side too, cuz you know, we're busy trying to harvest, um, when we should be starting calves. And so we try to utilize, um, our friends and neighbors here locally. That do some of that backgrounding and then we end up finishing out here locally too at Palenske Ranch. And um, I think that's one of the really cool components of our operation is it really keeps our, our dollar super hyperlocal. and I think the more you can do that, you know, the more our rural communities are gonna continue to survive.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
Yeah, it's a, it's a neat closed loop that you're making there and, and, uh, sharing those dollars amongst folks that, You do business with sometimes every day, but, but Sure. see coming down the roads and, and, the local Flint Hills Beef Fest or whatever else. And it's neat to see that. You'd mentioned field view and, and, um, analyzing data through that and making the most of the land that you do have. They, I think, sponsored a. Documentary that I got to see. Well, I think I just saw a week or two ago, we, I was, I was loading lly syringes for, um, cows, so that would've been 10 days ago, but that's about a two hour, three hour process to load 205 cc syringes for one person. But I was watching this farmer's journey. Where you became a movie star. tell us a little bit about that documentary and how that all came down and, and feedback you've gotten about a farmer's journey.Track 1:
Yeah, so it was kind of a wild deal. I was actually in the Atlanta airport coming home from, the American Farm Bureau annual meeting, and I got. A number that I didn't know on my phone pop up. And usually that's a beef customer. So I went and took the phone call and I had to ask multiple times if they had the right person. cause they were talking about executive producers and, documentaries and Emmys and all sorts of things. And I thought, there's no way if they've got the right phone number. And so I. A few times and they said, no, you're, you're Jacqueline Loeffler in Americas, Kansas. And I said, yeah, that, that's definitely me. And, uh, Yeah, I was, and at, well there's my grandpa Jackie Loeffler, and I thought, well, they're sure not wanting to talk to him about this and so, well, it must be me that they're trying to get ahold of. And so they were explaining that they had just wrapped up, uh, their first season of a farmer's journey, um, with a farmer by the name of Jerry, up in Iowa. And I said, well, I'll take a look out of it and, you know, get back to you and talk to my family and see if that's something we'd wanna be interested in. And, I don't know if anybody was super excited at the beginning, um, but it kind of grew on us and we thought, well, you know, if anything, my dad, he, he's pretty great about saying, well, if it's something you really wanna do, you know, I, I think we can try to figure out how to make it work and I said it, it'll be fine. I'm sure it's just a few people showing up randomly and, you know, they might hop in a cab with us. I mean, I had no clue. And. I had kept saying, you know, where, where I sell beef direct to consumer. This would be a cool way for people to see what we actually do. I mean, I try to tell our story, you know, through a few Facebook posts every week, but, um, it doesn't even come close to what they captured. And so next thing you knew, um, we were having a few Zoom calls and trying to figure out scheduling and what it was gonna look like. They sent me a, a spreadsheet, I'll never forget it, and I opened it up and it had the list of people that were gonna be involved and I thought, oh, they must have messed up and, and sent me like their whole office or something. And sure enough, there was about 12 to 15 people.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
showed up.Track 1:
12 to 15 people showed up to, to our farm. And. I think there was multiple neighbors that probably broke their neck trying to figure out what the heck was going on. We had an RV out there and. You know, vehicles everywhere and people running around with drones and cameras and, uh, you name it, you saw it happening. And um, so it was quite the deal. And they would stay for three, four or five days depending on what we were doing. And. We'd squeeze in, you know, the interviews in between trying to actually get work done. And, um, I found out really fast that if I told them what I was about to do before I did it, I may only have to redo it three times instead of 10 times. And so as the process went along, it, it got a lot smoother, but. I had no clue that I had signed up for that. but, you know, at the end of the whole deal, they, they became friends and family and, and we just enjoyed the heck out of'em. And so it, it was a really neat deal that they ended up doing, but I had no clue what I said yes to. So it's been a, it's been a wild ride,matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
Well, they did a great job and, and you all did a great job and, it was inspirational to watch that and you told the story and you could tell it was legit and it was real. And, you know, anytime we get into day-to-day operations of a family business, especially one that has to depend on mother nature and markets and things like that, you can't script it. I mean, it, it's gonna be pretty raw and you never know what you're gonna get and. that's, that's tough for folks like you and your family to put yourself out there because there's a risk that something south while the cameras are rolling and, and, um, You don't necessarily want that scene, but it's impressive to be able to see the, you know, the emotion and the passion and things like that captured explain why it is that families like yours and ours and everybody else's, that it's listening to this podcast, do it every day. Um, I think there is more value in that to those consumers, whether they're. Loeffler Prime Performance meats, or whether they're buying whatever products it is that we're raising on our farms and ranches, we don't recognize as the folks who grow that food, just how much. Our our consumers crave that story and that connection they can't or don't want, or aren't ever going to do it themselves, but they want to know that there is somebody that's doing it for'em. And, and I think there's just, there's immense value in that. And they did, think they did a fabulous job of making what we would consider fairly mundane. planting, harvesting, spraying, whatever it is we need to do that day into something that was really, really impressive and really beautiful and really positive. And I said that I was listening to your episodes while I was loading syringes. Well, YouTube like it is rolled into the next one after the next one, and pretty soon I'm watching one that I think is part of this same. Well, it was a farmer and it was a professional film crew, and I don't even know what the name was and I wouldn't say it if I did, but, it was definitely not this farmer's journey that did yours because as I'm loading these Luis syringes, I'm thinking what just happened? We went from hearing what's great. Production agriculture to how terrible everything is and the markets and the weather and the government's out to get us, and people think we're all trying to kill'em. And I mean, it just was like throwing cold water. Same professionalism, not the same film crew, but you could tell they were just as good at their job as what the folks were that were on your back porch step. They were interviewing the same types of folks, but they were going after a completely. story and they wanted everybody to feel sorry for us and how terrible it was to be a farmer or rancher and we wouldn't wish this on anybody. And I'm like, what just happened? Let's go back. Let's go back to the raw, raw good part cuz I, I see this part every day. I don't, I don't need to be reminded of it. So again, it's all a matter of perspective I guess. You all did a greatTrack 1:
Thanks. I sure appreciate that. I, I think it, you know, it takes me back as a kid. you know, my parents and grandparents, we had these old school business cards and they were this terrible brown tan color. And it, on the back of it though, it said Loeffler Farms, Inc. Where agriculture is a profession and. I didn't get it as a kid. Um, but I think in this last year, I, I finally really started to understand why that statement was so bold and powerful. Um, on the back of that business card, you know, I, uh, I saw my, my dad and grandpa treat this as a, a business and not just a lifestyle. and I, I think it's easier to, to see the good, uh, which you can see both of those perspectives. You know, it's, it's easier to, to be like, well, today wasn't great or, that market swing wasn't great, but you gotta move on to the next day and figure out how to make that business succeed and take that emotion out of it just a little bit so you can see a little clearer. Um, and I'm always amazed, you know, when I go speak at different conferences and whatnot, at the end I'll ask, you know, raise your hand if you have a business card. And I'm amazed at a room full of people in agriculture that don't have a business card. For their business. You know, I, I think a lot of us look at that as a job or we're, uh, working on trying to. you know, withhold this legacy that the people in front of us created, but we forget sometimes this is a legitimate business. And that, that's my point always, is like, have a business card. And I think seeing that growing up gave me the perspective that I have now as I'm trying to, you know, jump into this thing with two feet and figure it out for myself a little bit. And I think, you know, that film crew, they, they did a great job of capturing. You know, our lifestyle. So people can see that. But also that business component of it, of, you know, you just gotta figure out how to make, make it through the tough times and conserve in the good times so you can make it through. And that's exactly what this year was all about. I mean, weather markets, you name it, nothing really went right. And we're still here, you know, so I think that's kind of the, the happy ending that you wanna see at the end of a movie. But, you know, it's, it's just real life that we're living every.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
Yeah, and we cherish that lifestyle and we're drawn to it as all humans. it's what brings a lot of us back to that family farmer ranch, but it doesn't pay the bills. You've got to, at some point, you've got to own up to the fact that this thing has to be a business. It has to be profitable, it has to be about more than just telling stories at the coffee shop for the sale barn cafe. It's gotta be finding ways to not necessarily grow our land base, but at least grow our business so that we can feed our family, pay our employees. Pay down debt, whatever the case may be. And, and that's just it. So along those lines, uh, you created this Loeffler Prime performance.Track 1:
me about the name and where it started and where it's is now and where it's going.Track 1:
Yeah, so 2015, um, is kind of when I got out of coaching at Emporia State. And, um, I knew that was gonna be a, a gap in my bank account that I wasn't gonna have coming in anymore. And so I was trying to figure out a way that I could fill that gap. And so I, I thought to myself, you know, my sister and I showed cattle in four H. We would always have a few extra at the end of the year and you know, people would always wanna buy those. And I thought, surely there's still people out there that wanna buy, you know, a few head every year and. So I thought, well, I'm gonna try to figure out how to raise a few head in the small pen next to my house and um, feel like I actually have a stake in agriculture. Cuz at that point I didn't have any land, I didn't have any money to buy cattle with my dad in the farm. I was just labor. And at that point, I'm not sure if I was even labor. I was probably just in the way more. And so you, you can grow up on a farm. Yeah, you can grow up on a farm, but not know how to work on a farm is what I learned really fast when I came home. And so it's a whole lot different. And uh, so I was trying to figure out how to put money in my bank account basically. And I thought, well, we've got everything and maybe this will show my dad. I wanna be here a little more. And um, and so I kind of started small. I was doing maybe five head a year, and then I moved up to about 10 head. I think by 2019 the most I had done in a year was probably 20 head, maybe selling to 30 people. Um, super local. And, uh, next thing you knew, uh, we had this great, you know, global pandemic that came through and I had already made, um, my big run kind of for the year in 2020. Um, cause I always did kind of a February time spot so people could have that beef for their whole year. And, um, I think it was in March, March and April, my phone started to ring and, you know, they were saying, Hey, you got any beef? I heard you sell beef. And I was like, I've got beef in my freezer, but I can't sell that. And so I, I saw there was something happening and nobody really knew what was going on yet. We just. People were getting scared and grocery store shelves were getting a little bit more bear every week. And so I had a, a local guy call me and he said, I've got 12 calves that are roughly 1400 pounds and I can't get'em into the locker. And I said, okay. And I said, well, I. You know, call around and see if I can get you into a different locker. And he goes, no, the packer. I said, oh, you're, you're talking about the big guys? And he said, yeah. He goes, usually his buyer would just let'em put'em on the back of somebody else's truck and take'em in with their cattle. And, um, I said, well, you know, I guess I can figure out how to market'em for you. And again, I'd never talked to this man before in my life, but I thought this conversation, there's something happening. And so I kept talking. which usually gets me in trouble or into a situation. I can't figure out quite what's happening. So that's, that's just been the story of my life. And, um, I don't say no. Well, and so I was determined to help this older gentleman out and I said, well, if, if you deliver him to Alan Meat Processing, I'll, I'll call Mike and I'll write you a check and I'll, I'll figure out how to. and he goes, well, I just want, you know, a little bit more than what the Packer's gonna give you. And he, I said, what? What are they giving you if they let you go? And he goes, oh, maybe 90 cents. I don't even know if I'm gonna get a dollar. And I thought, oh man, there's something here. Like I know what people will pay for beef. Cuz I had just sold a bunch in February and I started doing the math and I. Well, this is a no-brainer. I've just gotta figure it out. And so I had a, a three week window to sell 12 head, and it took me like two days, and so I called up to the locker again and said, I don't know what we're doing yet.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
many more of those canTrack 1:
Yeah. I said, how many more spots? And so basically week by week we just kept booking more spots and you know, I, we got to almost where I was booked out nine, 10 months and it just kept growing and growing. And, I'll, I'll never forget I was sitting in our office and at this time I was basically a, a dispatcher for beef. I mean, I was just finding people that I knew that had really, really good cattle and were feeding out at Palenske's, um, where we feed out. So I knew there would be a consistency within those cattle and, uh, was just helping, you know, at that point, like I wasn. I was trying to make sure I paid every rancher or everybody that I, you know, did business with in that timeframe. I said, I need to know that they're at least getting their break even. I don't want anybody else to lose money out of this deal. And so that's kind of how we operated and started to get things figured out. And we were sitting in the office one day, my dad and I, and I think he was, I'm usually the one that's annoyed that he's on his phone all the time, taking business calls. It, it was amazing when it, it flipped and my phone was the ring one ringing all the time. He was looking at me.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
fun watching you kidsTrack 1:
Yeah. He was just like, are are we gonna work or what today? And I said, hold on, I've got one more phone call. And so I took it and wrote down, you know, another half or whole beef, whatever it was. And he goes, how many of you sold?matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
And I said, well, I'm at around, you know, maybe 50 or so. And he goes, 50 people. And I said, no, 50 head. And he goes, you gotta be kidding me. And I said No. And I said, the best part is where I'm starting to line up people. I said, we're gonna have our own cattle ready cuz we had cattle already on feed at Palenske's and, and so I was able to pay our farm and my dad the amount that they deserved for their cattle during that timeframe and, it, it was a really cool feeling of the first time really feeling like I helped contribute during a really hard time to make sure we got what we were worth. And that's when it started to click that I had something and, um, I just hustled and didn't sleep for probably six months. Cuz you know, I, I figured out when we get home. and at the end of the day, we get on our phone and the majority of people scroll on Facebook, apparently between 9:00 PM and 1:00 AM and I took the most beef orders between probably 11:00 PM and 1:00 AM and I stayed up every night making sure that I could be the first person to respond to a post. You know, to somebody that was looking for, for beef and, um, built that clientele base up and, um, happy to report it. It really hasn't died off too much. And so it's, it's been a pretty crazy run. I, I finally got it pretty well, a well oiled machine and, um, it's been really good. Um, super, super grateful for all the people that reached out and, and trusted a, a kid just trying to figures things out as they went as well. Um, it's been a pretty incredible experience.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
That is awesome. I mean that here, here, the rest of the world is in free fall and chicken little looking up to the sky as it falls and you go, Hey, there's an opportunity here. I think I can fill this void. And went and did it and, and have continued to do it, which is, is commendable. Are you, are you close to in balance still today in terms of cattle that you can kind of manage that throughput and demand for, from the consumer or which side is short?Track 1:
Yeah. So right now, um, it's the same problem everybody is having is, you know, getting the spots at the locker. Um, I'm lucky enough, I work close enough with Alan Meat processing that if I'm in a bind I can pretty well get something done. And, uh, I also have spots, you know, booked almost two years out in advance and I've kind of figured out, you know, Tin head almost every month is pretty well doing me on the custom side, so all my quarter halves and holes. And then the harder part for me is figuring out, the ebbs and flow of my retail cases that I'm now doing and. Um, most of it's went through Opie, locker down south of us, and I got my first spot there, thanks to you actually, when you said you had an extra spot. And I said, well, I guess I'll try to figure out this retail side. And, if it wasn't for that, I, I don't know if I would've jumped in, um, like I did and it started to go really well. Um, so I did probably. Oh, 20 head or so this year. piecing it out and selling hamburger and, and that kind of stuff by the pound. And I, I much prefer that the quarter halves and holes. But, um, it's been really neat to be able to put. You know, high quality protein in people's freezers that, you know, maybe don't want to take the expense of a, a quarter of a beef even. And some people just frankly don't have the space for, you know, taking a hundred pounds home at a time or, or whatnot. And so it's been neat to, to be able to kind of fit any need. Um, but I haven't totally figured outmatt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
totally figured out exactlyTrack 1:
how often and when I need to butcher to make that part of the business work. But people are pretty understanding and they're just, I have a running list on some different cuts that usually run out faster than the other and, uh, just make phone calls and next thing I know, I'm pretty well outta stock again. And so it's, it's been really fun to kind of develop that retail side too. And, um, you know, I guess having a kinesiology background, for my degree. And then, you know, also being an athlete, I know how important good food is and being able to provide that for my community and people that also, you know, drive hours to come and get my beef too is, is pretty cool. So it, to me, it makes, it makes me feel like I'm using that degree a little bit when I actually get attack nutrition with people.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
that's much needed for sure. Uh, especially the role that. Good high quality protein can play in that diet. And so you've got, you've got all the uh, pieces to know that story very well. How wide of a circle is your customer list? How far away are they driving to come? Either pick up quarters and halves and holes, or even your retail beef.Track 1:
Yeah, so retail usually stays within an hour. Um, it's all local pickup at the farm, or I might deliver it if I'm driving, you know, maybe to Manhattan for, you know, another reason or into Emporia. Um, but I, I keep my prices as low as I can and I think people respect that and so they don't expect me to deliver for that price, which is super helpful. on the custom side, the quarter halves and holes, everybody picks up at the locker. Um, which also helps me on labor and time constraints cuz I'm, you know, also trying to help my dad full-time with this, which is also a full-time business now. And, um, there's only so many hours in the day to accomplish things and some of those people are driving, gosh, probably my furthest one that gets one every year. They buy a hole. They're about eight hours. Um, I've got basically every state that borders us. the best story I have for you is, uh, we actually Ubered one to Colorado. Um, and so it's, it's crazy the things that you can get yourself into when you're not a person that says no. Well, um, but they, they stood the cost of all of that and did all the logistics. They, uh, they just had to load it up into the car for'em, and, uh, they said it made it there, so everybody was happy. That, uh, experience was done, so, um, you never know what you're gonna get yourself intomatt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
Yeah, the obvious question on that run. was the back haul coming from Colorado, Kansas?Track 1:
I, I don't have a clue. I don't think I wanna know, but, uh, I can tell you it was a grass fed beef, so, um, it, it was a,matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
on the way out and grass on the wayTrack 1:
that's what I was assuming, but I didn't ask many questions. I thought if I don't ask it, I don't know. I can't get in trouble. So,matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
So annually you're doing what, a hundred plus head a year, just on your custom processing?Track 1:
Yeah, I'm about at 120. Um,matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
and then on the retail side, I'm pushing around 20 consistently now. Alan Meat processing is just getting ready to get state inspected and that's gonna do huge things and allow me a lot of flexibility. Um, so I, I'll be able. Take stuff to, to one place and, uh, be able to choose if I want it. Customer state inspected. And so that'll gimme the opportunity if, you know, if maybe I don't have a half sold, I can get it state inspected and take it home into my retail freezer. And so I'm super excited for that to, to finally happen And, I, I'm excited to see what, what's gonna come outta actually having some flexibility with spots that I already have secured at all times. So really, really excited and super grateful for, for Mike and Donna, the owners, for helping me along the way and, you know, and putting in just as many hours and crazy phone calls as I have. So big, big fan of that operation up there.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
Well, and I would guess that they're grateful to you as well. I think. Didn't they just do an expansion here fairly recently, and I would assume that's largely because of your business.Track 1:
Yeah, they just added a, a new hanging cooler and um, so that's super exciting to know that they'll be able to hang, um, maybe even hang longer too. And so, um, really excited.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
long are you aging those now?Track 1:
Right now I'm minimum is 14 days. Um, can go up to 20. So that's kind of where we're sitting right now.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
And are most of those cattle that you're moving through Loeffler Prime performance, are those now your family's fed cattle, or are you still sometimes filling in the gaps with, with somebody else's?Track 1:
Yeah. So I, I fill in the gaps, um, a little bit just cuz we, we can't have that many pens of cattle. I, I don't know if Farm Credit would give us that big of a line to, to make that work. And, um, we'd have polanski's filled up with just our stuff if we were, you know, trying to do that and rotate pins that way. So Jason's been great to work with and it, you know, it helps him. Level out loads and stuff too. And I'm super grateful for them working with me on, on that kind of stuff too. But it, to me, it truly shows, you know, that feed ration is so important and that's what gives me a consistent product. and so it, it's worked out really well for everybody involved and super, super grateful for good people that we get to do business with.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
That's what it's all about for sure. Uh, regardless of whether you're coaching or playing sports or the world, uh, the people that you're involved with are, are what make it. and what make it a good business venture and experience for everybody. So, changing gears here, uh, you told us basically why you're where you are today in farming. What's your favorite season of the year, your favorite day of the year? What, what do you like best about, whether it be Leffler Farms Inc, or Leffler Prime perform.Track 1:
Yeah, I've gotta go with, uh, that spring timeframe. Um, I just absolutely love, the weather. And I mean, the, the other part of me is, so the, the Leffler Prime performance part is, so Leffler is obviously my last name. Prime is obviously my beef business, but the performance side is a private coaching business that I developed. And so I get to help, you know, local athletes and athletes that travel a decent amount of time to, to come and have me coach them chase the same dreams that I once chased. And so during that, you know, springtime, I'm, I'm not only getting. To plant our crops, which is, you know, one of the most important things that we do on our farm. And, and then you're, you know, starting to watch those crops grow. And, and then usually, you know, people are starting to fire up the grill and so the beef business starts to get a little busier. And then I've got kids that are coming in on Sundays and, and getting coached up and starting to chase dreams and figure out, you know, how, how are we gonna make it to state this year? Or whatever their goal may be. And, So it, it literally combines like all my favorite things into one season. And so definitely springtime is, is where I, uh, definitely don't get a whole lot of sleep, but, oh man, I've always got a big smile on my face. I just love it.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
So I could look online and find out, but is there a logo for Leffler Prime performance, and if so, is there a. Track athlete, carcass. Uh, what, what There's a multifaceted meaning to Leffler prime performance. I'm, I'm not sure how you build a logo for that diverse of a, of an organization.Track 1:
Yeah, I haven't quite figured that one out, but if anybody has any great ideas, definitely send them my way. But, um, I try to keep it a little separate. Um, but this year I, I did take a, a little bit of what I think it was up in South Dakota that they did with their beef strong. And so, um, it has B and strong in one color and then the EF on beef another. And so it's kind of a play on words and so, My throwers thought that was pretty cool because in their head it meant that they were strong. And my, my people that buy the beef thought it was pretty cool cuz they thought, well, beef makes us strong. And so, um, it, it worked out pretty well. I'm, I'm always amazed at how many people, um, you know, wanna buy, you know, different swag that I'll come out with and, it's been pretty neat to, to go all over the place and see people wearing your brand. I, I think there's nothing more humbling than that.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
When you're as consumer and customer focused is what it sounds like you are and responsive, uh, people wanna be part of that. And I think that, that we can all, all learn a lot, from you on that. what's on the horizon for you or professionally, personally, for production agriculture in general? What do you, what do you see coming down the pike in the next five to 10?Track 1:
Oh, that's a loaded question, Matt. Um, professionally, I think, you know, continuing to, to grow a little bit, on the beef side, trying to get that figured out on. you know, how do I expand the retail side a little bit more? I think there, there is room for that. and then on the farming side of things, I think just trying to continue to learn from my dad. Um, The, the guy is a great teacher and I, I'm just excited that I get to learn beside him every day. So, um, remembering to write notes down and, and figure out exactly why we're doing what we're doing and what can be tweaked and not tweaked and what questions to ask. And, those are things that I think.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
you know, once you kind of quit learning, you know, you're not gonna continue to, to grow. And so I'm always trying to, to just soak in everything. And, on the cattle side, I kind of see us just to keep doing what we're doing. Um, we've been playing with feed rations a little bit, and so trying to figure out, you know, um, some different ways to, to do some things. And so I think that's something that will continue to develop. On the personal side of things, I'm getting married in March and so, um, trying to merge two schedules together is gonna be interesting, uh, cuz we both run family businesses and so, um, trying to figure that out. We'll, we'll definitely be a challenge, but super excited for it. and so I guess we'll see, see where that starts and, go from there on it. Yeah, just super excited. I think it's an exciting time of life. lots of new things happening and developing and, just ready to see where it takes me. I guess I'm just here for the ride.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
Oh, that's great. Well, congratulations on the, uh, upcoming wedding and, I, I look forward to seeing all of that growth and all of the, the things that you're doing. And I would say you mentioned your dad and, and your grandfather, Jackie earlier. I would say that quote on the back of that business card where agriculture is a profession made an indelible mark. on you, because that's exactly what you're treating it as. you are still holding onto the legacy of family traditions and, and all of those ties that bind each of us. still proud and, and positive about that opportunity to work right alongside But you're making it a profession. You're, you're making it a business and, and that's sometimes. We all need a reminder about. And so, uh, all I can say is keep up the great work, keep in touch and I can either say you're welcome for that first slot at Opie locker. so you could get into the retail or I'm sorry, uh, I'm sure there's some days you're going, why did I ever get past the custom? Custom processing deal because I know, as you said, there's some, a lot, there's some challenges there, but, um, but you're doing well and, and, uh, it's been been fun watching it from afar. Just keep up the great work.Track 1:
Thanks, Matt. I sure appreciate it and I appreciate you always taking time to spend time with, you know, people in my age group and you know, I, I think you and your family are people when, when you speak, uh, people should listen and I, I sure appreciate everything that you've done for the industry and I think this podcast is just the next thing that you've got going, and super excited to see who you have on next.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
Well, when we get to talk with folks like you, it, it makes it all worth it. So, we'll, we'll cranking them out when we can. right, well, thanks a bunch. I appreciate it. A bunch, Jacqueline.Track 1:
Thanks, Matt. Have a good Christmas.matt_2_12-15-2022_140449:
Thanks for joining us for practically ranching, brought to you by Dalebanks Angus. If you enjoyed the podcast, heck even if you didn't... help us improve by leaving a comment with your review wherever you heard us. And if you want to listen again, click subscribe and catch us next week. God bless, and we look forward to visiting again soon.