Siira wants more young people in beef industry

By Carol Stender

BRANDON, Minn. — Andy Siira wants more young people in the beef industry.

He thinks the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Beef Profitability Task Force can help.

The 30-year-old Brandon Angus producer was appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to a two-year term on the newly formed group that includes beef producers and beef industry representatives.


He learned about the task force and its goals, applied to the Secretary of State’s office, faxed his resume and was appointed.

"One of my primary goals is to look for ways to encourage young people in the industry and to provide insight to others on the challenges we face," Siira said. "There are some producers on the task force who represent larger operations. I am a representative for some of the smaller ones."

More than 70 percent of the beef producers in his area have less than 100 cows, he said.

"I thought it would be good to have someone on the small end of the spectrum."

Siira, his wife, Emily, and their three children live just four miles from his original family farm. His parents, Bill and Cathy, operated a 65-cow grazing dairy herd. Siira knew he would take over the family farm one day, but when he returned in 2000 after graduating from South Dakota State University with a double major in animal science and agronomy, his future wouldn’t be in dairying.

He wanted to raise beef.

The switch has been gradual, he said. The last dairy cows were sold in December. He has about 90 cows that will calve this spring. Although he started his beef herd using cull cows from the dairy, he now has an Angus herd. The bulls are registered and he plans to eventually register the cows and calves in the future.

Siira raises corn, soybeans and alfalfa on 400 tillable acres. Pastureland is rented, he said.


He has an advantage over some young people who want to farm. He had an opportunity through is parents to take over the family farm. Siira would like others to have similar opportunities by matching young people with retiring beef producers. He also wants to find innovative mentorships and purchase arrangements.

When he was in college, few took the production agriculture route, he said.

"I can understand why," Siira said. "You wont’ be making the big salary and there will be more risk you will be taking on. You want to look for ways to make it a better option for young people to get involved and to help them get a boost in the business."

Despite it’s challenges, raising beef and living on the farm is a good way to raise a family, he said.

The task force has several issues on its docket. Those include bovine tuberculoisis, split-state TB status, concern over a lack of veterinarians to conduct TB testing, and high feed costs, he said.

What To Read Next
Get Local