Mark & Mauna Shipley
Shipley Livestock, Shipley Farms
Grain & Beef Producers
Customer since 1981
Why I chose agriculture
My senior year of high school I went half-days and farmed the rest of the time. At that time, I didn’t have the financial ability to own a lot of real estate, so I got in the feedlot business backgrounding calves. My dad was a good farmer and taught me to farm, but my real love is livestock.
How I prepared ourselves for agricultural business
I learned from my dad and I learned by doing. I surrounded myself with intelligent people in my field of business. I asked people for their thoughts on the markets and then made up my own mind on what to do. I wanted to learn how other people made decisions that led them to be successful.
To start with, I was custom-feeding cattle and running a few grass cattle of my own. My goal was to build a big enough feedyard to sustain my backgrounding operation and what I wanted to take out to grass. When you custom-feed cattle, you are really marketing your feed. The real money, however, is when you’re marketing your feed through your own livestock, but you have to build equity in order to own the cattle. It’s taken me 30 years to be able to fill the feedyard myself.
My business approach
My philosophy is to be cautious and not plunge into any given market. I’m sustaining a long-term operation. I don’t come in when it looks good or get out when it looks bad.
I’m a firm believer that to make sound decisions, I need to surround myself with good, intelligent people. I talk over everything with my accountant and financial officer. I have open books with them because they are people I can trust. We weigh the pros and cons of an opportunity to see how much risk I can afford to take on so that I’m not asking for things outside my capability. I secure my finances and do not jeopardize my base for a new excursion.
My vision for the operation
Long term, I hope my operation lives beyond me and doesn’t get torn up and sold in the end. That said, I know no one can live my dream. I have two daughters, and if one or both would want to come back, I would do everything in my power to make it possible. They would have to start on the ground and make it a priority in their life. If they weren’t committed, they should let someone else farm it and feed cattle.
What I enjoy most about farming
I have a huge compassion for cattle. I want to keep them out of the wind. I want to doctor them when they’re sick. I might have to ride sick call three times a day, but if I take care of them, they take care of me and I reap the benefits.
Why I work with FCSAmerica
I started with FCSAmerica in 1980 when I was still in high school. Over the years I’ve worked with a few loan officers. My last financial officer I worked with for a number of years, and she was outstanding. She was as competent as a financial adviser could be and we could talk about anything. My current financial officer is just as sharp and is very accommodating. She comes out to my place so I don’t have to worry about making it to an appointment at a certain time.