Johnson Farms, LLC
By Audrey Hambright
For Paige Pratt, the opportunity to work together as a family and share the ranch lifestyle with her kids in the hopes they develop the same love for it as she and her husband have, leaves her feeling pretty fortunate.
Pratt, of Johnson Farms, LLC, near Dwight, Kansas, was lucky enough to experience growing up on a commercial cow/calf operation, which has led her to maintaining agriculture as both a professional career and personal interest. She holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a masters in educational leadership, both from Kansas State University. She also received a PhD in beef cattle genetics from Texas Tech University before accepting a job at Virginia Tech in 2011.
2011 proved to be an extremely eventful and memorable year for Pratt. She married her husband, Jason, whose family owned a purebred Angus operation. The couple purchased both the herd and equipment from Jason’s parents and marketed the cattle through buying stations in Southwest Virginia. In that same year, they decided to host their own bull sale, which required building a new facility which was completed in time for their first sale in November 2011.
After a few years, they began to run into some challenges finding good labor and needing to develop a bull development facility. At about this same time, her dad called from Kansas to discuss a possible transition of their operation to work alongside him and her brother.
So in 2014, Paige and Jason shipped their cattle and equipment to Kansas and formed the LLC. Truly a family operation, the managing partners are her dad, brother and husband. Paige, her mom and sister-in-law, plus kids, are all an active part of the operation.
Off the ranch, Paige serves as field staff for the Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB). In this role, she helps producers advocate for the industry and leads education efforts to bring information to all parts of the state. Right now, she is helping to provide recommendations for KFB endorsements for legislative candidates seeking election. Among many industry activities and leadership positions, Pratt is an alum of the KLA Young Stockmen’s Academy and was selected as the first graduate scholar to receive the Roy A. Wallace Memorial Scholarship at the Beef Improvement Federation in 2010. She returned as a speaker this year to the BIF Young Producer’s Symposium with “Family Farm Transitions: The Good, The Bad and the In-Laws.” Jason and Paige also won the Virginia Farm Bureau of Excellence in Agriculture competition and were named a National Runner-Up for the American Farm Bureau Federation Excellence in Agriculture competition in 2012. To top it all off, Paige is an active member of the newly formed BCI advisory team.
Pratt attributes success on their family’s operation to focusing on input costs and an understanding of the economic side of the operation. In addition to this, she named communication as an added factor, especially as they make the transition between generations.
“Having everyone in tune and on the same page is critical and we would not be successful without it,” she said. “As we watch operations change hands, it’s vital to have good communication for the younger generation to be successful.”
And to provide for the next generation is something she is truly passionate about and hopes that their two young kids – one and three – will want to be part of some day.
“We enjoy working together, watching the cattle grow and develop and seeing if what you hoped would transpire actually does,” she said. “The outcome is something really exciting when it is something others can utilize in their herd.”
With communication, profitability and genetic longevity in the herd, Pratt and her family have laid a foundation for future generations in the industry.