Cody and Kara Goodknight of Chattanooga were named Oklahoma Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award Winners at the 2019 Oklahoma Farm Bureau annual meeting on Saturday, Nov. 9 in Oklahoma City.
The Goodknights grow wheat, cotton, grain sorghum, sesame, soybeans, oats and hay alongside their cow/calf and stocker cattle operation.
Working in the Comanche and Tillman County fields where he grew up is the fulfillment a lifelong dream of Cody’s, who now manages the family farm.
“I knew at an early age when I was a young boy – only five or six years old – that I wanted to farm,” Cody said. “When I was at school, I couldn’t think about anything else but getting back and helping dad on the farm.”
Upon returning to the farm after college, Cody focused on transitioning the family operation from a wheat and cattle farm and selling calves at market to a diversified crop operation that focuses on selling replacement heifers and adding value to their crops.
Kara, who was raised on a Hereford cattle ranch in northeast Oklahoma, now enjoys the opportunity to raise cattle and crops, continuing on in agriculture.
“Coming back to the farm was something that I feel like is just bred into you,” Kara said. “You want to see the livestock survive and thrive. Being proud of the animals you raise is something that I always knew that I wanted to be able to do. It’s definitely a way of life.”
Today, the couple focuses on diversity as they work to add value to their crops and livestock, allowing them to sell their products at a premium.
“I learned from my dad that to be financially successful, simply growing crops and selling on a commodity market wasn’t feasible,” Cody said. “We needed to use our land to raise a premium-quality crop in a niche market. He’s done that with certified seed wheat over the last 30 years, and I try to do the same thing with replacement heifers. We are building up repeat customers who are coming back year after year.”
As the Goodknights work to differentiate the crops and livestock they grow and raise, they are conscious environmental stewards, working to improve their land by improving soil health. The Goodknights use no-till practices, plant cover crops and more.
“We do all this to protect the soil, prevent water and wind erosion, and also increase the water quality on our farms,” Cody said.
Beyond the day-to-day farming and ranching, the Goodknights focus on serving the customers who purchase cattle or seed wheat as well as taking care of the employees who work on their farm.
“We strive to make sure our customers get a fair deal whether they’re buying seed wheat from us or replacement cattle or hay,” Cody said. “Whatever they’re buying from us we want to make sure they’re happy with what they buy.”
“When we talk about sustainability, we want this operation to be able to continue” Kara said. “We need good hands for that. We very much value our employees.”
The Goodknights’ goals of growing their farm, taking care of the land and their animals, serving their customers and taking care of their employees all stem from their passion for agriculture and their commitment to growing and raising food and fiber.
“It’s just very rewarding to see a product that you have started from the very beginning go through all stages of its life, whether it be a calf or whether it be a seed,” Kara said. “To be able to raise that product and know that you’re sending that out – you’re helping feed the world – it’s just a way of life. We are excited and proud of the work that we do. That’s why we continue on.”
As Achievement Award winners, the Goodknights received a John Deere Gator XUV courtesy of the OKFB YF&R state committee and the Oklahoma Pork Council. The Goodknights also will receive an expense-paid trip to Austin, Texas, for the 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in January. The Goodknights will compete on a national level for the AFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award during the AFBF Annual Meeting.
The Farm Bureau Achievement Award recognizes Young Farmers & Ranchers who have excelled in their farm or ranch and have honed their leadership abilities through Farm Bureau and other activities and organizations.
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau Annual Meeting is the organization’s largest yearly gathering of farmers and ranchers. At the event, members vote on grassroots policy, elect leaders and award outstanding individuals. OKFB has a presence in all 77 Oklahoma counties and serves as the voice of agriculture and the rural way of life. To learn more, visit www.okfarmbureau.org.