Jeff Metz figures he’s been farming and ranching for close to 35 of his 47 years. He grew up near Bridgeport in Morrill County in western Nebraska and lives there still – the fourth generation of his family. His great grandfather homesteaded part of what is now Metz Farm and Ranch.
Jeff was still in grade school when he bought his first calf for a 4-H project. He’d buy a few calves here and there and by the time he was a senior in high school, he had 50 cows and was well on his way to being a cattle rancher.
Today he has a mostly Black Angus commercial herd and also grows winter wheat. What Jeff likes about working with cattle depends on the day.
“I like the independent decisions you make on a day-to-day basis – it’s up to you and the way you run your program. It’s great to see the hard work all year pay off in the end: You know you’ve put a good product on the market at the end of the year.”
Jeff ’s wife Kim teaches second grade in Bridgeport. They have two sons: Dillon, 8, and Logan, 5 – who both have bought 4-H bucket calves and are continuing the family tradition. This is Dillon’s third year of cattle-raising and he’s already made more than $800 on his calves, after expenses.
Jeff is active in Farm Bureau and served six years on the state Farm Bureau board. More recently he’s been president of Morrill County Farm Bureau and worked with other local leaders to have Morrill County proclaimed as the state’s first Livestock Friendly County in 2005.
He helped his then-State Sen. Phil Erdman write the language for the legislative bill that established the livestock-friendly program and Morrill County Farm Bureau leaders met with the county commissioners soon after the legislation became law.
“We visited with the county board and jumped through more hoops than were probably necessary, such as holding more public hearings than were probably needed, but we wanted to be certain there weren’t any questions out there” about the program and the support for livestock production that it expresses.
Since then, nearly all of the other counties in the Nebraska Panhandle have received the LFC designation. Jeff was elected as a Morrill County commissioner two years ago and he’s met with his counterparts in all of the other counties to explain the process involved in obtaining the Livestock Friendly County designation and its significance.
“Nebraska takes pride in raising the best food in the world,” he says. “If you eat, you should thank a farmer or rancher.”
Continue to check back to the blog each Thursday to get to know more farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska as they share their everyday stories. And to read past farmer and rancher profiles, click here.