‘Meat’ your Rancher: FEATURE INTERVIEW- Connie Hatfield

Doc and Connie Hatfield Photo Courtesy: Beef Magazine 2009
{Photo: Beef Magazine 2009}

I had the honor of speaking with Connie Hatfield for a little over an hour on the phone this past week. Connie has been a mentor and a longtime friend to many of us here at Desert Mountain Grass Fed Beef.

Connie Hatfield and her late husband Doc are known to many in the ranching community as visionaries in the landscape of the natural beef market. They formed and operated Country Natural Beef (CNB) www.oregoncountrybeef.com in 1986 as a cooperative of 14 original Oregon ranch families, and moving to over 100+ ranch cooperative by 2010.

The spry 77 year old was a delight to get to know! We did play a bout of phone tag, as she was busy driving an hour both ways from her home in Sisters, Oregon to deliver Meals on Wheels. What a true testament of her character!

She made me feel as if I had known her for years, she was extremely knowledgeable about her field, and ever so warm and friendly! It was a challenge to keep my pencil writing as fast as the stories and advice came! She highlighted the conversation with numerous experiences that have shaped her outlook and beliefs in regards to ranching and life, peppered in was her infectious giggle. Thank you for your time Connie! It was a pleasure!

Enjoy the interview below!

Connie Hatfield

Tell us a little bit about your upbringing:

I was raised on a 40 acre ranch in a suburb of Denver Colorado. From an early age I was involved in every 4-H project that I could find. I did not do very well in school, and did not find out until years down the road that I am very dyslexic. I bloomed in 4-H, as they did not give me grades. I found my passion with animals in 4-H!

Where did your story begin with cattle ranching?

I met Doc at Colorado State University where he was studying to be a veterinarian. He was from Oregon originally. Our life then went into large animal veterinarian. We went to Montana for 10 years with our veterinary practice. After years of being in the Banana belt/ Bitterroot valley of Montana, where disease and illness seemed to follow the animals, Doc said, ‘I wonder if we can find a place where the people, cattle and the environment could all work in harmony together.’ Doc was treating animals all the time. It seemed like we were working for our animals, rather than having them be a part of a good environment. We decided after 10 years to try and find a ranch, and we found one in Brothers, OR. The ranch is in a forever trust, and is still ran by my daughter and son-in-law.

What is your passion regarding agriculture:

Selling cattle on the cost of production. My passion is people who are wanting to sell their product for cost of production, return on investment, and a reasonable profit. Working in a market where people get to know who we are, and know the product. The point is when you start asking customers about the product and seeing their excitement about the product, that’s it! I used to go into stores where our beef was, and would see a customer go and buy a package of our ground beef, I would go up and give them a hug, and say “thank you for buying our product! This hug is from the ranchers who have produced this wonderful product!” Owning your animal all the way through, making sure your animal is well taken care of, you are then so proud of your product, and hearing the consumer feedback is what makes me excited! Relationships have also been everything in the cattle business for us. Make sure you are communicating with everyone that touches or has a hand on your product. This is key.

What is the biggest challenge you see with today in the cattle business?:

Hard-headedness! People not wanting to change and move with what the consumer is wanting.

Why are you excited about Desert Mountain Grass Fed Beef?:

I feel my dream is coming true! Your ranchers are working in harmony with the land, the cattle, and the people. And you are involving the farmers into your operation, which is so important! You are proving this is possible!

What is the best piece of advice you can give future generations of cattle ranchers?:

Anytime someone says NO, just don’t tell them and go do it anyways!! Also, to be true to yourself and do what you believe is right.

And to close out our interview: A few fun facts:

What’s your favorite color: Blue

Favorite food: Hamburger ♥

Thank you for the time Connie, it was a pleasure!




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