Welcome to the new column, “From the Field.” My name is Mark Campbell, and I am the Senior District Field Services Director for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation in the central part of the state. I will be sharing Farm Bureau activities and events throughout the state and other agricultural information and interesting stories, as well as my love for all things agriculture. “From The Field” will be posted here every other Wednesday.
I work out of and live in Nelson County—one of the most beautiful areas of the state! My wife, Dana, our two sons Hayden (9) and Daniel (7) and I live on our family farm, Deer Creek Farm, where I was raised. The rolling and sometimes mountainous terrain of Nelson County is best suited to cattle and sheep and fruit trees. While we do not have fruit trees on our farm, Nelson County is a leader in production of fresh apples and peaches. Nelson is also a high ranking county for vineyards and wineries. Another business that has really taken off in Nelson County is micro-breweries. The county also has a large wholesale nursery. There’s a lot more about Nelson County, click here http://www.nelsoncounty.com/
When I am not working for Farm Bureau, I enjoy working on our farm raising registered Simmental and SimAngus cattle. We sell bulls and replacement heifers to other cattlemen. We send the steers and cull heifers through the Virginia Retained Ownership Program, administered by Virginia Tech in coordination with Iowa State University. The cattle are fed at several participating feedyards in southwest Iowa near the Nebraska border, and are harvested in Iowa. In addition to the cattle, the only crops we raise are grass and trees. Over the years, I have installed several conservation projects with cattle water tanks and implemented a rotational grazing program.
Oh, by the way, we have a small flock of commercial sheep and one Italian Maremma guard dog. That is our new project and I am still working, and sometimes get frustrated trying to integrate them into our cattle system.
My sons are just now getting old enough to start showing cattle at some shows. They really enjoy it and are gaining knowledge about genetics, nutrition and animal care. They are also at that age where they tell everyone they know about everything they know. You know what I mean–some things you wished they didn’t share! Oh well, that makes it real and genuine. So they are doing a great job of being advocates for agriculture. They have a real passion for agriculture.
I thoroughly enjoy being involved in agriculture. It has always been a part of my life. I am an alumnus of Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. I was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho, Block and Bridle, and was on the Livestock Judging Team. After college, I worked four years with USDA Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) in the Packers and Stockyards Administration division. After that, I started with Virginia Farm Bureau in the northern field district, and then transferred to my current district in central Virginia. My Farm Bureau career has presented me the opportunity to work with 21 county Farm Bureaus and lots of wonderful people over the past 14 years.
My job as District Field Services Director (DFSD) allows me the opportunity to interact with over 100 producer members and assist 10 county Farm Bureaus on a monthly basis who are involved in all facets of agriculture. In central Virginia, we have a wide assortment of agriculture products such as beef cattle, apples, peaches, corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, vegetables, nurseries, tobacco, vineyards, dairy, horses, sheep, goats, hay, timber, poultry, hogs, honey, and even rabbits. I may have missed a few, but you get the picture.
As a DFSD, I am a liaison between Virginia Farm Bureau and 10 county Farm Bureaus. DFSDs work closely with county Farm Bureaus and Virginia Farm Bureau to strengthen the Farm Bureau organization, improve the agriculture industry, promote agriculture, monitor legislation and contact our elected legislators, and help develop future agriculture leaders. In other words, we do whatever we can through Farm Bureau to make things better in the agriculture community.
I am pretty much in agriculture mode all of the time with a few exceptions. And even then, agriculture always finds a way in. The boys and I like model railroading. We are working on a new layout with grain, cattle, and corn ethanol set in Nebraska. We plan to have two trains; one with hopper cars for the grain, and one with tanker cars for the ethanol. Go figure! Agriculture. It’s a way of life.
My next post will be about a successful member benefit that Louisa County Farm Bureau offers to their producer members. Thanks for reading and doing all that you do for Farm Bureau and Virginia agriculture.