A dairy farmer from Cody, WY, Scott George is incoming president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. He's part of a family operation that also includes cow-calf and stocker production.
Read the February feature story on George here.
A dairy farmer from Cody, WY, Scott George is incoming president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. He's part of a family operation that also includes cow-calf and stocker production.</p>
The George family operates in the shadow of Heart Mountain in the Cody/Powell area of northern Wyoming. George's parents Arley and Evaleen settled the area as homesteaders following World War II when the area was opened to agricultural development.</p>
Today, the George family operation includes a 600-head dairy, 100 commercial beef cows (mostly Angus-based bred to Simmental), and 2,000 acres of irrigated farmland. They raise all their replacement heifers, and grow their Holstein steers, as well as their beef calves, to a 900-lb. feeder weight. In addition, the George family sells bred dairy heifers and Holstein bulls.</p>
Scott George's parents, Arley and Evaleen, settled near Heart Mountain in a picturesque valley at 4,700 ft. elevation. The natural beauty, however, belied the difficulty that lay ahead in scratching out a living. "I watched them all my life and I worked right beside them growing up. There was no quit in them,” he says.</p>
George says the U.S. beef industry must unite and be proactive in addressing a multitude of issues. “Trying to operate in a bubble doesn't work anymore. Our industry is so impacted today by so many issues – political and economic – and there's a limited amount of influence we can have.”</p>
Still, George says, some folks think it strange for a dairyman to be a member of NCBA, much less its president. “It’s all about cattle in the end, and the dairy industry provides 28% of the beef produced in this country," George says. "I really feel I understand all the segments of this business – from breeding to calving to weaning. We raise our own replacements and I understand about developing heifers, growing cattle and feeding calves."</p>
George says his family feeds their dairy cattle a base of malt barley, high-moisture corn, dried distillers grains out of the Dakotas, and canola meal out of Montana and North Dakota. “We use a variety of products; we’re no different than anyone else. We’re struggling to find a way to stay in business and keep the cattle productive in the face of these soaring feed costs.”
It's obvious that the George family are talented dairy producers. Their dairy herd produces 25,000 lbs. of milk/cow/year. Compare that to a national average that is 10,000 lbs. less. So why venture into beef cattle? George says the impetus was to make room for more family members coming home.</p>
Incoming NCBA President Scott George of Cody, WY, poses outside his home with wife Debra and youngest child Jillian.</p>
The extended George family poses for a photo. Matriarch Evaleen is seated (Patriarch Arley passed away in 1988). Today, the management consists of Scott and two younger brothers, Lynn and Arley, as well as Lynn’s sons (Adam and Seth), Arley’s son (Spencer), and sister Sylvia’s son Charlie Lange.</p>
George says the family raises all its replacement heifers, and feed most of their Holstein steers to 800-900 lbs. before marketing them. The operation is heavily dependent on irrigation out of the nearby Buffalo Bill Reservoir. They use flood irrigation, dirt ditches, cement ditches with tubes, gated pipe, wheel lines and a couple of center pivots. “Irrigation is a huge amount of labor, but you’re so grateful for it in a drought. Irrigation saved us this year.”</p>
Scott George is a devout Mormon. “When I was asked by my church to serve as a missionary for two years as a 19-year-old college student, I saw it as a tithing of my life – a 10% tithe, as the Bible calls for. I spent two years doing volunteer work and it was about being of service to other people. That’s what I think about NCBA; it’s about giving service to your industry, and NCBA is a service organization.”</p>