Mitch Behling- A Millennial in the Beef Industry

I can’t tell you guys how excited I am about this interview! Mitch has been a part of my family before he could walk or even talk. I consider him and his brother cousins although they are of no blood relation. Back story: my grandfather’s mother died when he was just 13 years old. Shortly there after he went to work for Bud & June Sample who would be Mitch’s great grandparents. These people not only gave my grandfather a job but took him in and treated him as a son and brother. Although that was three generations ago, Mitch’s family and my family still celebrate the holidays together. Better yet, Mitch and I are usually on the same team during family games… and by no chance at all, we are usually the winners! 😉 Sorry Brett!

Without any further ado, here he is!

1. Give some background info on your ranch. Family history, how many generations, specific location, sector of the industry (cow/calf) and the type of cattle you raise.

I am the fifth generation in my family to ranch in the Central Valley. The current ranch in which my family owns and operates was founded in the early 1900’s. It is located northeast of Clovis, California at the base of the foothills. We run a commercial cow/calf herd of Angus cattle.

2. What is your role on the ranch? And does having another sibling help in the sharing of responsibility?

My role on the ranch is helping my dad. The tasks can range from cattle work, to welding projects, building fence, putting in water lines, or various other improvements to the ranch. I have an older brother who helps however he is now attending school in Idaho.

3. What one thing have you learned in school that is most applicable to ranch life?

The most applicable thing I have learned in school would have to be how to weld. I transferred high schools my junior year in order to take a welding course. This new trade I learned has proven to be invaluable and has opened up more opportunities for myself.

4. When you graduate college, do you have plans of coming back to the ranch or continuing somewhere else in the beef industry?

I am currently a freshman at California State University – Fresno pursuing a major in Agricultural Business and a minor in Animal Science. My plans upon graduation are to pursue a local job involved in the beef industry as either a cattle representative or a pharmaceutical sales rep for an animal health company. By staying somewhat local, I will still be able to help on the ranch.

5. When you are managing the ranch someday, what kinds of things do you think will be different?

It is hard to say what will be different in 20 years. I hope to continue to improve the ranch and herd genetics. I think the main thing would be keeping up to date on new legislation and laws regarding aspects of ranching and continuing to promote ranching in general.

6. In regards to the drought we are in, what has your family done to stay afloat?

The drought has had a significant impact on my family’s ranch. It has caused us to look for different outlets to take our cattle and has caused us to reduce our herd size. We have been fortunate enough to lease some permanent pasture during the summer where we can take some cows. The past year we kept some older heifers that did not get bred, in order to breed them the next year. Doing so we were able to keep the herd genetics that my family has established and it also made more economical sense to my family’s operation.

7. Talk a little bit on how you market your calves when they are ready to be sold. What does that process look like for you guys?

We typically sell our calves anywhere from mid-April to May depending on the grass conditions. We sell them on an online sale through a local sales yard.

And there you have it! Yet another bright, young, college student preparing to maintain and grow the ranch with his family upon graduation. Although statistics will tell you the people like Mitch are a dying breed, I’d have to say I disagree. I think our future is bright and I know Mitch has all the tools to carry on the traditions generations before him set.

Can’t wait to see what the future brings for you, Mitch! … Besides another win during our next family get-together :). See, there’s even proof!