I'm a Drover: One generation at a time

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Mark and Kim Harms will readily tell you they are living their dream — raising cattle and their family in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

“We’ve been blessed in many ways,” Mark says.

Currently serving a term as president of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA), Mark’s profile may be a little higher than his wife’s at the moment, but he is quick to point out that their successful seedstock operation wouldn’t have been possible without Kim.

“Kim has always been super optimistic and very supportive,” Mark says. “We’re partners in every sense of the word.”

Indeed, Harms Plainview Ranch traces its history back to Kim’s side of the family.

“The ranch headquarters is on land that has been in my family for 120 years,” Kim says. “It was originally named Plainview Stock Farm in 1885.”

Mark and Kim Harms, with their children, Cade, Taylor and Payton, who are fifth-generation producers.

Kim left the farm to attend Kansas State University, where she met Mark, a Nebraska boy who had come south to study animal science. They married in 1990 and started graduate school at Kansas State, but their shared dream of running a ranch came soon after when Kim’s parents decided to retire. Mark and Kim purchased the ranch and renamed it Harms Plainview Ranch. Their children — Taylor, Cade and Payton — are the fifth generation to raise cattle and horses on the ranch.

The Harms launched their seedstock operation in 1993 when they purchased a group of Angus cows from former Kansas State department of animal science head Don Good and his wife Jane. Today they offer Angus, Red Angus and Charolais bulls, Angus cow-calf pairs, and females and embryos. The Harms say their goal as a seedstock operation is to offer genetics that meet the demands of commercial cattlemen. Each year they market about 200 bulls through private treaty.

“We have always viewed breeding seedstock as a lifetime achievement… pursuing excellence one generation at a time,” Kim says. “The goal of our efforts has always been to increase the profitability of our valued customers. That focus has not and will never change.”

Despite their devotion to their ranch business, the Harms also believe it is important to play an active role in their community and the beef industry. Mark has served as a member and leader in both the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the KLA. His term as KLA president has taken him away from the ranch on many occasions, and he is quick to recognize the extra burden that has placed on Kim. But they both believe strongly in the value of contributions from producer members.

“The purpose of the association, whether it’s state or national, is to create a sustainable future for those who have an interest in what we do. That includes my family and explains why our industry involvement goes hand-inhand with preserving the viability of this business for future generations,” Marks says.

Mark also believes it is imperative that the industry remain engaged in policy supporting proven methods of production, free markets and free enterprise.

“As producers we can prepare ourselves to bridge the gap in understanding by communicating our involvement in programs that include best management practices, such as beef quality assurance. The key to becoming effective is to share it with those who need to hear the message,” Mark says.

The outlook for the future of agriculture, Mark believes, is bright, and over the past 20 years he has witnessed a drive for agriculture to become increasingly consumer-driven.

“The ability to remain focused on the consumer is essential to our future success.”


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