Gara and Brad Webb raise miniature Scottish Highland cattle for a booming niche market
“Every spare moment we had, went to our Angus crossbred cattle operation,” said Brad. “And one day Gara said that if we were going to continue with cows, she was going to get some of her own.”
So, in 2019, she bought five Scottish Highland cows from a breeder in Georgia.
With a smile, Gara said, “Yeah, it just snowballed from there.”
The Webb Cattle Company transformed its Angus operation into a miniature Scottish Highland cattle venture that has rocketed into the specialized market.
The oldest registered breed in the world, Highland cattle originated in the remote and rugged Scottish Highlands and the western islands of Scotland. Known for their long, curved horns and shaggy coat, the breed is hardy and can withstand harsh temperatures and terrain.
Why Scottish Highlands for a farm located in the rolling hills of Ludlow, Missouri?
“Well, she’s always wanted Highlands,” Brad replied.
“I guess I liked them or wanted them, I don’t know,” countered Gara. “I just know that when I decided I was going to get my own cows, that’s what I started . . . .
With USDA’s Climate Smart Commodities program investing more than $3.1 billion for 140 projects with many different partners in multiple states, it can be hard to follow the money to opportunities that fit farms in MFA territory.
Here’s a good place to start—the Missouri Climate-Resilient Crop and Livestock (CRCL) Project—which offers eight incentive payment programs for implementing environmentally friendly practices on both row-crop and livestock farms. MFA is one of the key partners in this multifaceted initiative, which is being spearheaded by the University of Missouri’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture.
“USDA asked for proposals that spanned the breadth of American agriculture—not just row crops but also livestock and forestry and small farms,” said the center’s director, Rob Myers. “We really tried to touch on all those things with a program that would be relevant for the many different types of farms and ranches we have here in Missouri.”
The CRCL project received $25 million in Climate Smart Commodities funding, the largest federal grant in MU’s history. Project partners quickly rolled out four cover crop programs, with “interest exceeding expectations,” Myers said. Some 440 farmers are participating in this initial funding pool, which closed in August but will reopen in June 2024.
Four other programs opened in November and will accept applications through January:
• Nutrient Management and 4R Approach — $20 per acre (up to 500 acres) for corn producers to implement precision nutrient management practices that include the use of split-nitrogen applications and the 4R principles of right source, right rate, right time and right place.
• Regenerative Grazing — $50 per acre to implement practices such as planting biodiverse forage species, managing intensive grazing, and using low-cost watering and fencing approaches.
• Silvopasture — $250 per acre for livestock producers to plant trees on pastures to expand Missouri woodland area and provide shade for livestock.
“These are all great programs for growers . . .
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