Learn about the people that shaped our industry through their stories.

The cattle-feeding industry has a rich and vibrant history. Help the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame capture the innovation and tradition of the industry by sharing your stories and photos. 

You may submit both your story and corresponding photo, or just your story or photo. Topics may focus on your feedyard, employees, family or friends.

  • Fosters Feedyard - Jesse Larios, Brawley, CA

    My Heroes Have Always been Cowboys

    Every day consumers become more interested in the food they eat. They want to know how it is made, and recently some began asking where food is made. As I have been introducing our industry and myself to the public, the one item everyone is always interested in knowing more about is the human element. The audiences always ask who are my heroes, employees, and my friends. They ask more about these people behind their food than the 42 slides of data I present to them. They want to hear the stories behind the people—and as many of you may know—I love being a storyteller. My name is Jesse Larios, I work at Foster Feed Yard in Brawley, California and this is my story.

    My heroes have always been cowboys. The people I work or have worked with have had a great influence on me. My own story started on a very hot day in late July of 1968. My father, Jose Larios, was a cowboy at Foster Feed Yard. My mother was in labor at the hospital. It looked like a false labor. At midnight my mother told my father to get a little rest and go to work. He’d already told her how the next day at work was going to be a big shipping day. He drove to work and got a few hours’ sleep in the car before work. After shipping cattle that morning, he helped the cowboys ride pens to check to the animals’ health. Then, at 11:00 a.m., Gary Foster drove over to pen number 40 to congratulate my father. He had a new son—me. Gary told my father to go to see his son, if he wanted to. My father told Gary that they were almost done riding the pens and that he would go as soon as he finished helping his coworkers. This runs contrary to all the rumors that I was born in the hospital pen at the feedyard.

    Just two months later, my family moved into a two-story house that still stands at the feedyard. I lived there until I left for Fresno State. Growing up, when I was too much for my mother to handle, I would be punished [so they thought] by having to go help my father before school, on weekends and vacations. I looked up to the people I worked with. I was fortunate enough to work, and spend time not only with my father, but also my three uncles, Cristobal, Raymundo and Alfredo. I was able to see them not only as family, but also as coworkers. They were very patient with me, showing me proper work ethics and values. They were careful to teach me how something was done, but also how to do it the right way. They taught me that we are shepherds of earth’s creatures, and how, when providing them a healthy, enjoyable, fruitful life, the economics of feeding cattle falls into place by itself. 

    My father and uncles have now retired. They not only enjoyed working for a loyal, humble family farm, but also knowing they were part of helping feed the world. When my father and uncles retired from Foster Feed Yard, they placed in my custody the values and principles they’d lived by, part of the foundation of this industry. As my father said to me, “We have planted the seed in the industry. Now it’s time for your generation to water it and nurture it so you can someday leave it more fruitful than before for the next generation.” My father and uncles have set high standards, and I aim to honor those standards. They retired from Foster Feed Yard after years of employment unheard of in many industries [Jose: 43 years, Cristobal: 44 years, Raymundo: 40 years, Alfredo: 36 years at time of his passing]. I’m proud to say currently, I have served 14 years and counting working for the feedyard. 

    When I left for college, it was hard for me to part with my family, as well as my home. My home was more than that two-story house but the feedyard and employees. The memories and lessons learned from the feedyard I would come to realize later were that of an education that no college or professor could ever teach. The founder of Foster Feed Yard was Howard Foster. He was a man that was and will forever be iconic in my profess

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  • Miller Feedyard Story - Lindsay Keller, Satanta, KS

    Miller Feedyard, one of the first commercial feedyards in Haskell County, Kan., opened its doors in July 1969, but not without a little perseverance from its founder and my grandpa, Jim Miller. 

    Prior to opening the feedyard, Grandpa was running 3,000 calves on wheat in the winter and farming in the summer. After several years of losing the money he earned from his calves on his crops, he decided to stick with the industry that was making a profit and began building a 2,000-head commercial feedyard in September 1968. 

    At this time, his investment seemed risky and he had a very difficult time finding finances to develop the yard. On March 1, 1969, he received a letter from the Grant County State Bank in Ulysses, Kan., rejecting him yet again for a short-term loan. The letter read as follows:

    I’ve considered your request for short-term risk capital loan money to finance your proposed commercial feedyard. We are not in the market for, nor will we in any way, finance your commercial feedyard operation under the use of short-term credit. 

    We have advised you of this numerous times, and formally, as early as January 9, 1969. We further advise you that whatever reckless steps you take toward using short-term credit arrangements will affect your credit capacity through the Grant County Agricultural Credit Corporation.

    In the meantime, your real estate note to our bank in the principal amount of $23,500 will be due on March 13, 1969 and we will be expecting you to pay this note as you agreed. 

    We can not over emphasize the need for you to seek long-term capital funds and we offer our bank reference to anybody or any party to which you may request funds to finance your commercial feedyard. 

    Thank you for your courtesy and business. 

    Very truly yours, 
    John Doe

    Vice President 
    Grant County State Bank
    Ulysses, KS

    Call him persistent, or stubborn, he continued to apply for loans at banks from Liberal to Topeka, Kan., before he was finally given a loan from the People’s National Bank in Liberal. 

    The banker only issued the loan because his wife had been Grandpa’s violin instructor when he was in 5th grade and had considered him a star pupil. He learned later that the banker also knew what it was like to start at the bottom, as he had worked his way up the ladder from a janitor at the bank to the president. 

    The banker retired shortly after he issued the loan to finance Miller Feedyard, however, the People’s National Bank of Liberal would continue to finance the expansions to the yard every time Grandpa applied. 

    In it’s nearly 40 years in business, Grandpa and my two uncles – Red and Lee – grew the commercial feedyard to a 17,000-head yard, feeding a little more than 42,000 head per year.

    With the profits from the feedyard, Grandpa also purchased four ranches – one in Kansas and three in New Mexico – with a combined acreage of more than 100,000. Between the four ranches, he runs 1,000 to 1,500 cow-calf pairs and 1,200 yearlings each year. 

    Today, the feedyard is used to feed the Red Angus-Gelbvieh cross calves raised by Grandpa and Red on their ranches, as well as calves bought from other sources. 

    As for the letter received from the Grant County State Bank in 1969, it is fittingly framed and hanging in Grandpa’s den to remind him of the blood, sweat and tears it took to build his success.

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