Hannah Baker attributes her love of cattle to one moment as a child.
“My great-grandfather took us out to see twin calves that had been born from one of his mama cows,” said Baker, who was raised in Adel, Georgia. “That was when I knew I loved and wanted to be a part of the cattle industry. Starting with the twin calves, it was a series of moments that all played a part in placing me in this career.”
This week, Baker starts her new position as the UF/IFAS statewide specialized Extension agent for beef cattle economics, having just earned her master’s in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University.
She’s stationed at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center (RCREC) in Hardee County. In her new position, Baker will work with UF/IFAS scientists, Extension agents and ranchers across Florida.
Cattle are a major economic driver in Florida. Nearly half of Florida’s agricultural land is involved in cattle production, which contributes more than $670 million a year to Florida’s economy.
Baker is eager to convey science-based data to ranchers. She plans to use historical data to show producers what was done before and also tell them what can be done now to potentially counter and prevent setbacks on their operations.
Ranchers need to know the state of the market because that tells them how to manage their operations to remain profitable. For example, ranchers need to know when to buy and sell cattle. Cattle prices and the cost to maintain them fluctuate, often unexpectedly.
“I will have the opportunity to relay research results to aid producers in decision-making processes that involve economical management practices,” Baker said. “If producers are aware of market changes and improved management practices, then consumers benefit from the beef products that cattle producers are able to provide.”
Producers are able to plan and prepare to adjust if they are aware of what is going on in the market, she said.
“Additionally, we’re always seeing new research on best-management practices for producers to provide alternative methods to running a profitable operation,” Baker said.
She developed her interest in the business side of cattle working as a fast-food restaurant manager during high school. There, she learned the numbers and management side of a business. Her interest in business management grew as she worked with ranch managers during her summer internships on working-cattle operations.
It’s also why she pursued a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) in Tifton, Georgia.
She envisions her new job as an opportunity to build relationships with cattle producers, UF/IFAS Extension agents and research faculty.
“With a trustworthy relationship with producers, I can do my job, which is to help them face issues affecting the industry,” she said. “Relationships and reputation are vital to the success of Extension work,” Baker said. “So, in my first year, I plan to start building a reputation that producers, agents and UF/IFAS can count on.”
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.
WHY FOOD IS OUR MIDDLE NAME
Feeding a hungry world takes effort. Nearly everything we do comes back to food: from growing it and getting it to consumers, to conserving natural resources and supporting agricultural efforts. Explore all the reasons why at ifas.ufl.edu/food or follow #FoodIsOurMiddleName.