Matt Perrier always knew he wanted to return to the family ranch. But first he wanted to get an education and broaden his business and industry experience by working off the ranch. Once those personal objectives were met, Perrier returned home to help guide an operation rich in history and tradition toward modern and progressive goals.
Dalebanks Angus, Eureka, Kan., traces its history back to 1867, when Perrier’s great-great-grandparents, Robert and Alice Loy, homesteaded a farm in the Kansas Flint Hills 3 miles northeast of Eureka. His great-grandfather, E.L. “Bert” Barrier, purchased what was to become the foundation of the Dalebanks Angus herd in 1904.
Perrier’s parents, Tom and Carolyn, were the first generation to continue the Perrier family name at Dalebanks, and were instrumental in implementing technologies such as performance recordkeeping, artificial insemination, EPD use and ultrasound evaluation since their arrival in 1969. They continue to manage this real-world farming and ranching operation and are majority owners of Dalebanks Angus, Inc. Although the Perriers eagerly utilize new information and modern production practices, they insist that for 109 years “the Dalebanks program has not wavered from E.L. ‘Bert’ Barrier’s vision: to produce balanced-trait bulls that profit their owners through their production.”
Despite the ranch’s long history, Perrier, the fifth generation of the family to operate the ranch and its current manager, believes the ranch’s success is tied to adapting to a changing business environment, utilizing technology and providing first-class customer service. Matt and wife Amy (who live on the ranch with children Ava, Lyle, Hannah and Henry) are both graduates of Kansas State University, and they credit their education and contacts made while at KSU as a boost to their careers and business.
“Amy and I both learned an immense amount at Kansas State,” Perrier says. “The faculty and course materials did a very good job conveying facts and knowledge, but where KSU really shined was in terms of the experience and contacts gained through extracurricular activities such as competition teams, clubs and organized living groups.”
Perrier says he sees many of his KSU contacts and friends at events across the nation. His exposure to diverse groups during college helped him learn how to meet and work with different people, and he believes his employment after graduation at the American Angus Association was invaluable.
“Working for the AAA exposed me to areas of the beef industry that I would have never seen. I gathered new ideas about cattle breeding, marketing and management. Plus I learned a tremendous amount about using the many tools that the Angus Association and Certified Angus Beef offer to breeders and commercial customers using registered Angus genetics.”
Perrier says current students planning on returning to the family farm should consider working off the farm first to gain experience.
“I believe that holding a full-time job away from your family’s farm or ranch immediately after college is a very good idea. I realize that it seems difficult or even impossible to delay a return to the family business, but a couple more years away can be as good of an education as the four years spent receiving the degree. It not only exposes you to new ideas in business, it also helps you appreciate the benefits of a family business once you return home.”
As one who has deep roots in agriculture and the cattle industry, Perrier believes the outlook is bright.
“We are in a tremendous time in production agriculture,” he says. “Technologies that improve our efficiency are rapidly developing, and world population continues to demand higher-quality food. So U.S. farmers and ranchers should be in a very solid position globally for the foreseeable future.
“In order for my children to have an equally bright future in agriculture, we must do a better job conveying our ‘story’ to the consuming public — NOW. Ranchers are great story-tellers; suburban folks are searching for a ‘story’ about everything they purchase right now. All we need to do is make sure we are heard in a positive, thoughtful way. And if we don’t tell our story, those who want to cease animal agriculture in the United States will be happy to tell theirs.”