by Katie Navarra
When the 2013 National Angus Conference and Tour descends on Albany, NY, this Aug. 28-30, it will be a proud moment for Phil Trowbridge of Ghent, NY.
As the current President and Chairman of the Board for the American Angus Association and owner of the Trowbridge Angus Farms in Ghent, NY, he has the opportunity to showcase the proud tradition of agriculture in New York State.
“A lot of people don’t realize there is so much agriculture in New York,” he said. During the three-day National Conference, participants will learn about topics facing the Angus industry including understanding the importance of transparency, marketing genetics, business issues and preparing for the future. The three-day event also includes tours of local farms.
Following a day of seminars and workshops, Phil has the honor of hosting Convention attendees for dinner and a special sale organized as part of the National Tour at his farm in Ghent. “There will be 100 cows sold in 70 lots,” he said. Sellers and buyers will come from across New York, Pennsylvania and the entire Northeast.
A lifelong involvement
Phil’s involvement in agriculture, specifically in the Angus industry, began in Corfu, a rural Western New York town. His father, Paul Sr. purchased the family’s first cow in 1957, the daughter of Prince Sunbeam of Shadoe Isle 78. Paul Sr. was hopeful this cow could impart a love for agriculture in his eight children. Today, Phil is one of three siblings actively involved in agriculture. Phil’s eldest brother, Paul Jr., “P.J.” operates the original farm in Corfu. His youngest brother, Patrick and his wife Mary, run an Arabian Horse farm in Connecticut.
Phil, his wife Annie, and their family raise 300 Angus cattle on a 900 acre farm in Ghent. His lifelong career in raising cattle began the day after graduating from Alfred State College with an Animal Science degree. He reported to work as a herdsman at Gallagher’s Angus Farm in Ghent.
The fledgling business was owned by entrepreneur and restaurateur, Jerome, “Jerry”, Brody. After working for Brody and learning the business, Phil struck out on his own.
Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to elevating the Angus breed to new heights of greatness. Known for his sharp instincts and keen eye, he has a track record of recognizing a calf’s potential and spotting the breed’s most valued individuals.
“Cattle 20 years ago took 7 pounds of feed to gain 1 pound in weight,” he explained, “we’ve got it down to about 4.5 pounds of feed to gain 1 pound in weight. I have worked my entire life to improve efficiency.”
“People like our genetics,” he explained, “our bulls are able to move weanling rates up between 40-60 pounds compared with other producers. That makes a big difference in profit for farms.”
Trowbridge Angus Farms cattle have been sold all over the United States. A few have been sold to farmers in Argentina.
“We’re pretty proud of what we’ve done,” Phil said, “we’re selling our genetics.”
A focus on family
Family is integral to the farm’s success. “The most important part of our operation is our family,” he said.
Phil’s wife, Annie, their two children P.J. and Amy and spouses, and now their grandchildren are an essential part of the operation. After graduating from SUNY Cobleskill, P.J. joined Phil in the business and works in the business fulltime.
Family encompasses more than blood relatives at Trowbridge Angus Farms. The farm welcomes newcomers, especially youth and introduces them to all facets agriculture. “4-H is a big deal for us,” Phil said, “if you show up here at four in the afternoon, we are mobbed with kids,” he laughed.
Each year, Phil houses sheep, hogs and cattle on the farm for 4-Hers interested in competing at the County Fair. The 4-H members care for, groom and work with the animals on a daily basis. “If the kid has a market animal, we finance it for them until they sell it at the County Fair,” he said.
In addition to hosting a 4-H club, Trowbridge Angus Farms supports a successful internship program. Founded in 1982, the farm has hosted over 100 college students.
“We think this summer’s intern was the 112th,” Phil said, “we really think it is an important part of the industry to teach them the different parts of the industry and to give them the hands-on experience.”
Interns come from local schools like SUNY Cobleskill as well as across the country including Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M and Auburn to name a few.
For more information about Trowbridge Angus Farms call 518-369-6584 or visit www.trowbridgeangusfarms.com
To learn more about the upcoming National Angus Conference or to register call 816-383-5100 or visit www.angus.org.
by Katie Navarra