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Beginning Farmers in New York State Beef Market

Have you ever wondered what the typical day is like on a family run beef farm? I was invited for a one on one visit to MMT Cattle, Inc. Farm to learn more about beginning farmerslife on the working farm and I eagerly accepted! This opportunity was made possible by the NYS Beef Council. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I decided to split this story into two posts because there was so much to share! Be sure to come back next week for more about this Upstate New York farm. This post may also contain an affiliate link. If you purchase through this link, a small commission goes to support this website.


Beef Cow NYS Beginning Farmer

Life on the Working Farm: A visit to New York’s MMT Beef Farm

Just off the New York State Thruway, there is the small eclectic town of Fonda, NY. It's home to acres of lush green hills, fields of produce, pastures of livestock, and my destination for the day; the family owned and operated farm, MMT Cattle, Inc.   

Making my way along the long gravel entrance road flanked with modern barns to the right and fields to the left, I was immediately struck by the sheer beauty of this area. The farmhouse with a rustic water pump spout and swimming/fishing ponds off in the distance showed country living at its finest. 

water spout farm

New York Beef

New York is making its mark as a niche commodity in the beef industry with beginning farmers. This interesting fact alone is pretty impressive especially in an area predominantly full of dairy farms. Trends are showing as more of us become lactose intolerant, we find cutting milk from our diet so much easier than the tasty steak that dons the menu at our favorite restaurant. I know for me this is true! 

Nicole Tour Barn

Farm Family

Nicole Tommell, co-owner of MMT Cattle Inc. welcomed me to the family farm and shared a little of her background as we made our way past a few barns. She taught Ag Business and Animal Science for 8 years at a local college, was the President of the NYS Angus Association from 2016-2018 and is the mom of two great kids. Impressive, right?! We arrived at the office and were greeted by their new rescue dog Jameson, who was more than happy to receive some belly rubs.

JamesonBeginning Farmers in Beef

Nicole and her husband Marc dreamed of owning their own farm and finally settled on this dairy farm in Fonda, NY, which they purchased from a family, who happens to still lives across the street.  Because they were beginning farmers, Marc & Nicole decided to continue the dairy farm operation for the first six years of ownership, then made the switch to beef finishing.

Brown cow face

This, of course, lead me to the question of  “Why beef farming?” Nicole replied and Marc later confirmed with a chuckle, “We are not crop farmers. We don’t really like that type of farming and it can become quite expensive, especially with equipment.”

They typically have about 1700 head of Holstein and Hereford steer at any given time and seem to have perfected the ebb and flow of cattle coming in for finishing and going out for processing in a very sustainable and high tech manner.

On this particular day, the farm was expecting a shipment of 36 cattle to arrive around midnight. Marc explained they normally unload the steer into a large pen in the holding barn and allow them to rest and relax after such a long trip. The next morning, they get to work processing the new arrivals by guiding each steer individually through an open-ended chute.  

Marc Clicker

At the end of the chute, there is a collar and an apparatus which stops and “hugs” the steer in place. This type of handling was invented by {affiliate link} Temple Grandin and proven to show using this method actually makes the animal feel safe and keeps them calm while given their identification ear tag and inoculation. The whole process is controlled via remote control for the safety of both human and animal and takes mere minutes to complete. Once finished, the steer is released into the barn to mingle with the rest of the herd. 

Beginning Farmers Life on the working farm

The Tommell family works hard to ensure great care is given to the animals during their short time on their farm. Tune in next week as we share more of our interview with our beginning beef farmers in New York state!

This is part one of a two-part series on NYS Beef Farming. Want to read part two? Click here!