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NACOGDOCHES, March 6, 2014-- 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."
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