Hill Creek’s Rogers recognized as 2021 S.C. Cattleman of the Year
John Rogers, owner and operator of Hill Creek Farms in Hartsville was named the S.C. Cattleman’s Association Cattleman of the Year during the organization’s recent annual membership meeting in Clemson.
Hill Creek Farms has been in operation since 2002, producing grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Its products are sold under the Hill Creek Farms Grass Fed Beef Brand. Its USDA-inspected beef has no added hormones and is antibiotic free.
Although he has been raising grass-fed beef for 18 years, being a cattleman was not always Rogers’ plan. He grew up on a dairy farm, and his job was to take care of the calves. Even after his family quit the dairy business when he was 12, they still had a family milk cow that was milked twice a day. “I said I didn’t even want to see a cow after that,” said Rogers. “I guess I couldn’t stay away from them forever.”
In 1975, Rogers started farming row crops with his brother. They also raised conventional beef cows from 1991 to 1998. At the end of 2002, he got out of row crops and started with cows again in 2003.
“I read an article in the Progressive Farmer magazine about a Georgia farmer raising grass-fed beef,” said Rogers. “I had been doing it the commercial way, but I liked what I saw about how theanimals were raised and the meat they produced.”
After selling his first grass-fed beef to a woman in Hartsville, Rogers started selling to restaurants and at farmers markets through Ovis Hill Farm in Timmonsville. Now he sells through Maypop Farm, which took over for Ovis Hill, Florence and Myrtle Beach.
Rogers recently increased his focus on selling directly to consumers. He has increased his presence on Facebook and Instagram in order to reach more people. “It’s been great to build relationships with customers and learn more about what kind of product they want,” said Rogers. “Most of our customers are health conscious and looking for something they can’t find in the grocery store. We get folks with allergies to things like corn who can’t eat conventional beef but can eat grass-fed beef. Also, some people want the superior taste. It’s rewarding when the customers tell me it’s the best meat they’ve ever eaten.
” Although he does a lot himself, Rogers has a team of hard workers who help him. Rogers’ wife, Lynn, has done everything from baling hay to picking up parts and supplies. He said Rebecca Cantey has worked part-time for almost ten years helping with tasks, including bookkeeping and selling meat. Also, his daughter Laurie Truett, has helped at the farm since 2002. She started working full time in March. David Nichols also helps around the farm part time.
“I used to try to do it by myself, but I realized I couldn’t, so they have been a big help,” said Rogers. “The hard work and long hours can take their toll, but there are also rewards for the life of a farmer. It’s not easy. It’s seven days a week. I don’t get many vacations or days off. I’m not looking for sympathy, because it’s what I decided to do, but it’s good for folks to remember what it takes. It’s worth it, though, because I’m able to feel like I’m doing a good job and treating the cows like they’re supposed to be treated.
" For additional information, visit www.sccattlemen.wildapricot.org/ SC-Cattlemens-Foundation, or www. hillcreekgrassfedbeef.com.