Photo: Stanley Jones at a show in Little Rock Arkansas. (Photo contributed by Belle Brook Farms)
Stanley Jones named Ag Pioneer of the Year
By Kelly Daniel
The Nacogdoches County Agribusiness Committee names Stanley Jones, Belle Brook Farms, as the Pete Smith Agricultural Pioneer of the Year. He will be honored at the 14th Annual Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet for producing, marketing and supplying a new breed of beef cattle to the U.S. market.
Jones grew up with dairy cows and began raising his own dairy replacement cows, then dairy beef cross cows for beef cattle. It was around 1985 that a friend handed Jones an article from a medical journal that would set his vision on a different beef product.
"He read about a breed of cattle that would offer higher muscle and lower fat and cholesterol content," said Ed Pool, Charles Pool Real Estate and Jones family relative. "He literally searched the world and found Belgian Blue."
In 1989 Jones made a substantial investment in his vision and traveled to England where he chose fifteen animals. The cows went into quarantine for 60 days in England, flew to New York City on a 747, and were quarantined again for 30 days before Jones could take possession. On his way back to Nacogdoches, he dropped off eight presold cows to other farms and kept seven.
Those Belgian Blue cows were the base for his herd and were "strictly embryo donors. I placed the embryos in surrogate mothers," Jones said. "Holsteins were used at first, and then later, other cows in the pasture were used as surrogates." The process was the beginning of the farm's Belgian Blue beef production.
The idea to cross his Belgian Blue bull with Brahman-Holstein mix cows came to Jones about a decade ago. The product was one-half Belgian Blue, one-quarter Brahman and one-quarter Holstein, and it still offered the consumer a high-protein meat that is lower in fat and cholesterol than chicken. The farm has since progressed into crossing with Charolais and Limousin cattle.
Pool said that he was lucky to be a part of the starting up of the production and the marketing. "Stanley found co-ops that existed throughout the nation. People buying in bulk, looking for natural product that has no antibiotics or added hormones," he said.
According to Jones, at that time he faced the challenge of educating the consumer that there is a healthier choice for beef. Travelling and attending trade shows, supplying cooked samples of his beef successfully opened the doors to first, Tree of Life that supplies the east coast, and then to Food for Health for the west coast market.
Jones also made a name for himself in the industry as one of the founders of the American Belgian Blue Association. He served on the board of directors and as president of the association for three terms. The association is now named American Blue Breeders Association. He was one of the first to be trained in Belgium to judge Belgian Blue cattle, and he has trained about 20 more to judge in shows across the nation.
Belle Brook Farms continues to offer a natural beef product, and distribution is now "selling 90% directly to the end user," Jones said. Consumers may buy direct through the farm's online mail order found at www.bellebrook.com. The site states, "We carry a full line of all natural meat, (raised with no animal by-products), sauces and seasonings as well as smoked products."
About the Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet
The 14th annual Nacogdoches County Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet is Monday, March 31 at the Nacogdoches County Exposition & Civic Center . A social hour begins at 6 p.m., and the program starts at 7 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.
Keynote speaker is Leroy Shafer, Chief Operating Officer, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.
Four awards will be presented:
• Farm Family of the Year: Peggy & Campbell Cox, Sr. Family (Sponsor: Tipton Ford);
• Agriculture Pioneer: Stanley Jones – Belle Brook Farms (Sponsor: Heritage Land Bank);
• Agribusiness of the Year: Eastex Veterinarian Clinic – Dr. James Weatherly
(Sponsor: First Bank & Trust East Texas);
• Ag Educator of the Year: Ted Thompson - Ag. Teacher, Central Heights HS
(Sponsor: Citizens 1st Bank).
Banquet tickets are $28 each or $300 per table of eight and are available now at the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, 2516 North St., or call 936-560-5533, or go to www.nacogdoches.org.
The Nacogdoches Agribusiness committee consists of representatives from Nacogdoches County Farm Bureau, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau, Nacogdoches Economic Development Corp., Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Cooperative Extension Program, Pineywoods RC&D, Stephen F. Austin State University - Agriculture Department and the Texas Forest Service.
The group has organized farm tours of the county for media and business representatives on Friday, April 4. Contact Jamie Sugg at 560-7711 for tour information.