|Stephen Donaldson, a board member of the Cullman County Farmers Federation, says his feed business has continued to grow even in troubled economic times.
-- Photo by Matthew Durdin
Alfa Member Since:
Current Office or Board:
Board member, Cullman County Farmers Federation
Other Farming Activities:
Past chairman, Cullman Regional Medical Center, Cullman Cattlemen's Association and Alabama Feed and Grain Board
Stephen and his brother, Tim, raise about 125 cross-breed cows and have operated the North Alabama Bull Test Station for Auburn University on a contract basis for the past 21 years, feeding, evaluating and performance testing bulls for the annual sale the second Saturday in December.
The brothers also operate a 2,400-head sow farm in Calhoun County, generating the genetics used in some large-scale commercial operations in North Carolina.
They also own J&R Feeds in Cullman, where they produce about 600 tons of feed per week for horses, cattle, hogs and sheep.
What I Like About Agriculture:
"I love the fact that I get to work outdoors and with people who are the salt of the Earth," says Stephen. "It's a daily challenge, but it allows me to feel like I'm contributing to society by producing quality food and fiber."
The Biggest Challenge Facing Agriculture:
"We need to do a better job of promoting agriculture as a business," says Stephen. "We need to show our pride in our industry because it feeds and clothes the world."
I'm Proud Of:
"We have expanded our business, J&R Feeds, even in tough economic times and continued to grow what my father started," says Stephen, adding that his Dad and a partner purchased the business in 1986.
Stephen and his wife, Jackie, appear to have been destined for the farm. They met on the front steps of Comer Hall at Auburn University where he was majoring in animal science and she was in ag communications. Today, they've been married 23 yrs and have five children: Bethany 23, Leslie 20, Stephanie 17, Seth 14 and Kacie 12.
Jackie now teaches biology at Cullman High School. Bethany has an ag communications degree from AU and is working on a master's in special education. Leslie is attending the University of Alabama where she is majoring in accounting pre-law. Stephanie is headed for Auburn this fall to pursue an animal science degree. Seth is attending Cullman Middle School, and Kacie is attending West Elementary.
Lifelong member of Cullman Church of Christ
Stephen is a 1987 graduate of Auburn University with a bachelor's degree in animal science. He earned a master's in animal science from the University of Georgia in 1989.
A Good Day/Bad Day Is ...
"A good day is waking up to a busy day," says Stephen. "A bad day is waking up wondering what am I going to do today."
You May Not Know This About Me:
Stephen is also an avid NASCAR fan and enjoys hunting when time permits.
But the thing many people may not know that, for one year, Stephen was a pre-med major at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. "I had a full-ride pre-med scholarship, but I hated it," he said. "I couldn't shake my love for agriculture. Now, I'm not saying that there aren't times when it's raining and cold and I'm out there feeding cows that I think I should've stayed. But I could see real fast that I wouldn't like sitting in a hospital all day. My Dad supported my decision because we had grown up showing cattle and Tim and I were very active in the farming operation. So, he didn't have many regrets. Now, Mother probably had more reservations than he did. Any time I talk about farming being rough, she's there to remind me, 'You should've been a doctor.' She's my sounding board."
-- Compiled by Darryal Ray