Joe Meek grew up on a beef cattle and sheep farm on land that is now the Draper Valley Golf Course. Although he is not sure how many generations of his family have been in the livestock business, Joe is certain that his family farming heritage goes back for several generations. His father came to Pulaski County as an Extension Agent, then became a farmer and a major player in the development of the cattle industry in Virginia and beyond. Because of his love of working outside and with animals, Joe decided to become a farmer himself.
He recalls that his first job off the farm was as a field man for the Virginia Cattlemens Association (VCA). From 1985-1992, he traveled to feeder cattle sales all over the state.
Reflecting on his father’s contribution to farming in the area and to him personally, Joe commented, “My father, Roy A. Meek, Jr., farmed in Draper’s Valley from 1963-1989. Prior to that, he worked as the Pulaski County Extension Ag Agent from the late 1950s to 1963. He was very innovative using different marketing techniques for feeder cattle and lambs, and was active on many national boards including the National Cattlemens Association, Cattlemens Beef Board, and the American Sheep Industry. He was also active on many state and local boards including the Virginia Cattlemens Association and the Dublin Feeder Cattle Association.
“To me personally,” Joe continued, “he taught the value of hard work and integrity.” What greater legacy could a father leave his son, and what greater compliment could a son pay to his father!?!
A graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in Animal Science, Joe and his wife Lisa and their three children Sarah, Allyson, and Jackson are the owners of Meek Farms. All three children have been active in 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America). He began farming on his own by leasing a 100 acre farm near Radford with sheep and stocker cattle. More acreage and a cow herd was added in 2001. The family purchased the farm where they now live in 2003. His farming has continued to grow and expand until now he owns 107 acres and leases an additional 1100 acres in Pulaski, Montgomery, and Wythe Counties. The core leased farms have been leased since the 1990’s.
The major focus of Meek Farms is now beef cattle, a cow/calf and stocker operation. The work of the farm is handled mostly by the family, with a few part time employees to assist with the larger jobs. Hay is grown for animal feed on the farm.
He believes that the key elements to success in the agriculture industry is “hard work, perseverance, and having a marketing game plan.”
Meek is pleased to be located in Pulaski County because “it is a great place to raise a family, and it has a strong agriculture community.”
The biggest change he has seen in the agriculture business is that “cattle marketing is now year round. When I was growing up, cattlemen sold cattle only in the spring and the fall.”
Additional positive changes he has seen is that farmers are taking better care of their cattle with improved health programs, are paying more attention to
marketing, and have better access to market news. One thing that some see as an
improvement while some view as a challenge is that there are now a lot of different ways and places to market feeder cattle in the New River Valley.
Although farming is hard work and time consuming, both Joe and his wife have additional employment away from the farm. Lisa is a registered nurse at Lewis Gale Hospital – Montgomery and Joe is Manager of the Pulaski Livestock Market.
Continuing to discuss the farm-related legacy he received from his father, Joe recalls that he was manager of the Pulaski Livestock Market from 1963 until his death in 1992. His father began selling lambs in the early 1970s via teleauction. He had one of the first feeder cattle teleauctions in the late 1970s. In the early 1980s he began selling lambs over a computer auction, and instituted
computerized record keeping at the market in the early 1980s.
Joe took over as Manager of the Pulaski Livestock Market after the death of his father in 1992. He still serves as an auctioneer for the VCA teleauction sales.
As Manager of the Pulaski Livestock Market he works closely with the Dublin Feeder Cattle Association, Virginia Cattlemens Association, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture.
Most of the Meek Farms’ feeder cattle are sold in tractor trailer load lots via teleauction. The remaining feeder cattle and cull cows are sold at Pulaski Livestock Market.
The Pulaski Livestock Market has a sale at 6:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. They are marketing both state graded feeder cattle as well as slaughter cows and bulls.
Meek Farms “tries to take care of the animals and the land for the next generation. If farming was easy, everybody would be doing it!”
Like most farmers, Joe Meek hopes the next generation will continue farming “if that is what they really enjoy.” It is obvious that he himself enjoys farming very much!