Darin Mann – Working With Consumers’ Perceptions
Posted on November 9, 2012 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
Darin Mann is a co-owner of M & M Feedlot, a 13,000-head heifer feedlot on the border of Oregon and Idaho. This feedlot is unique because, not only does it house 13,000 animals, but it also does it right next to a river and U.S. fish and game ponds.
M&M Feedlot has been in the family since 1947, and the feedlot has been operating since 1972 when Mann’s father came back to the farm after working out of the industry for a number of years. Mann described his dad as being “very aware of people’s perception,” which is a main factor in their success today.
At M&M Feedlot, the team strives to go above and beyond what needs to be done for their land, neighbors, animals and consumers. Over the past few years, whenever they heard negative feedback from their neighbors, they addressed the issues as soon as possible. For example, a neighbor had a concern with the dust around the feedlot. Mann invited him out to the farm and discussed how they thought they could resolve the issue. Shortly after the neighbor’s visit, the feedlot made an enclosed dumping bay for the feed to be dumped and mixed into the mixer, eliminating the dust.
Going beyond what is necessary is important at M&M. That point is demonstrated by a lagoon that can hold 400 percent more than what is needed for the farm’s area.
“Dress up your place and be proud to invite your neighbors to it,” says Mann.
Every year, M&M hosts three major tours for legislators, teachers, and government officials. Along with the major tours, the farm always offers tours to anyone that would like to check out the facility.
The Mann family is very proud of what it has. The farm even includes a unique park with a shelter right in the middle of the feedlot. The shelter looks inviting and visitors say the view makes it a good place to be. Every year, the Manns use the park to host a big barbecue dinner for all of their family, friends and surrounding neighbors to show they are grateful for their support.
Mann, who has a degree in Chinese, described his thankfulness for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Having traveled to many different foreign countries, he said he is “grateful for the EPA because our social obligation as farmers is to be good environmentalists and be thankful for what we have in this country.”
As proud environmentalists, the folks at M&M manage the only farm that has been granted a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit in the county for the last 10 years. This permit will allow M&M Feedlot to expand its operation to include 10,000 wet calves starting this fall.
Lastly, Mann shared a story that showed his enthusiasm and concern with consumer perception. A woman named Claudia attended every environmental hearing in the neighborhood, including Mann’s CAFO permit hearings. Claudia tended to be against everything new that was to be built in her community and the surrounding area. She was very much against the addition of the 10,000 wet calves to M&M Feedlot.
One day, Mann decided to call Claudia and see if she would like some compost from the farm for her garden because he knew she loved to garden, which she accepted. A few months later Mann called Claudia again and invited her to the feedlot to give her a tour and teach her some of the values they have for agriculture. She said people didn’t generally let her visit their farms because she relays so much negative feedback to some of her other animal activist friends. After a tour of the feedlot, she fell in love with the place, realizing that the CAFO wasn’t a bad place to be. At the final hearing for the CAFO permit, Claudia testified in support of M&M Feedlot and has been very supportive since.
“Be a good neighbor,” Mann said. “Reach out to the Claudia’s in your community.”
Starting Strong - Calf Care