Yow Farm – Eddie Yow

subject: Livestock

In this interview, Mr. Eddie Yow discusses his life, reflecting on the many changes to farming and livestock raising in the North Carolina Piedmont region. Mr. Yow was born local to the area in 1952. and has lived in Stanfield, NC for over 30 years. During this interview, Mr. Yow details exactly what work he does raising livestock, why his methods differ from other farmers, and gives anecdotes from his past of examples of the many changes that have taken place since his childhood, including those in selling his product. Mr. Yow also discusses how he envisions farming in the region changing in the future, and the challenges that newcomers to farming will face.

Tape Log

0:01:13Explanation of past work
0:02:09How Mr. Yow got into his line of work
0:03:07Row Croppers change Mr. Yow’s work
0:03:31Diffences in types of feed for cows
0:08:27Why Mr. Yow discusses why he grinds his own cow feed
0:10:14Mr. Yow talks about his birthplace and home
0:11:16Mr. Yow explains why farmers work part time
0:12:28Raising hens
0:14:16Mr. Yow talks about his traditional lifestyle
0:16:17Changes in perserving food and personal growing
0:18:10Family lineage and growing up with hogs
0:20:42Importance of self-reliance to Mr. Yow and lessons from his father
0:24:07Transition from gardening to livestock raising and neighborly farming
0:25:55Vanishing orchards and pulling weeds
0:28:07Mr. Yow talks about agribusiness and no till regulations
0:32:32Common processes for Mr. Yow and diseased crops
0:35:17Mr. Yow talks about livestock slaughtering and regulations behind it
0:38:12Mr. Yow discusses changes to the rural country and benefits of regulations
0:42:13Discussion about Farmers Markets and changes over time with them
0:46:47Outside labor for farmwork
0:48:27Why do people shop at Farmers Markets? Trust.
0:52:07How the growth of cities affects new farmers
0:56:02Differences between farming in the north and farming in the south and pooling resources
0:57:35Lessons learned from farming and maintaing traditions
0:59:30The future of Yow Farm and the future of farming in the Piedmont
1:03:32Mr. Yow discusses how trust is the most important aspect of farming



>> Bradley Holt: Good afternoon, my name is Bradley Holt with UNC Charlotte in the graduate history program, part of the Public History Department. Today I am conducting an interview under the Queen’s Garden Oral History Project, histories of the Piedmont food shed. And today, I am sitting down with Eddie Yao, and the date is April 9th, 2019.


So just real briefly, if you wanna introduce yourself, and what sort of work you do.

>> Eddie Yao: My name is Eddie Yao. I’ve raised beef or packaged beef sales. I have done this now for probably ten years. Before that, I sold half and whole animals Most felt they were there for the first time.


I had worked public work during that time up until about four years ago when I retired.

>> Eddie Yao: My background is maintenance, technical.

>> Bradley Holt: So you say you’ve been doing this for about ten years?

>> Eddie Yao: The packaged beef sales.

>> Bradley Holt: The packaged beef sales?

>> Eddie Yao: Mm-hm.

>> Bradley Holt: And before that, what do you mean by the selling selling of-


>> Eddie Yao: A lot of folks, that’s kind of faded away. But a lot of folks used to buy halves and whole beefs. And I would haul them to the processing plant for them. And they would give them their instructions. And they would put them in their freezer and have them processed.


I was selling live animals. First it’s packaged beef.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay so, before you were handling the live ones first. And now you’ve moved on to kind of the whole process.

>> Eddie Yao: I’ve been raising beef for a long time. It’s just changed in the forms. I had a market management, Piedmont Market approached me to, back in the day before they had anybody selling packaged beef, if I would do that.


So I got the meat handler’s license and proceeded to go into the packaged beef business. I still occasionally will sell one. I just sold one to a guy that does packaged beef.

>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah, I remember you telling me about that on Saturday.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.


>> Bradley Holt: So what made you make that switch over into packaging it yourself?

>> Eddie Yao: Well, once the market manager talked me into that and I got started, it was just a joy dealing with the people. And I like being able to sell folks beef that don’t have freezer capacity.


But yet you wanna buy local and you wanna buy from somebody that just doing it on a small scale.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, how many animals do you have at the moment in terms of your lifestyle?

>> Eddie Yao: Normally, I’m gonna have right now, and that has changed in the last ten years.


At one time I ran a commercial herd, about 60 animals. And I would take calves off those cows once they were weaned, and I’d raise them on my own. And I would sell whole or halves, or packaged beef, okay? When corn prices shot up at about five years ago, I was leasing quite a bit of land, a little over 200 acres maybe.


And I lost it to the road croppers. Pastures became fields, quarter of acre fields. So, I brought back of what I had did many, many years ago. I buy baby calves from dairies, the bull calves, and I raised those out model ‘ and raise them up.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.


>> Eddie Yao: And I can tell you that dairy beef is a much better selection. I’ve done both than beef type. The reason that the type is popular is because they can survive on grass for a while when they’re young. And once you turn them out on pasture if you’re willing to wait about two years, which is why grass fed beef is so tough.


They will eventually get the size with the dairy animals. Grass alone just won’t quite cut it. They’ve got to be fed and with me doing what I’m doing, taking baby calves, they’ve got to have feed and grass from the time they start eating. Because they’re not staying on their mama until they weight about 4 or 500 pound, but yeah.


>> Bradley Holt: So, what sort of feed then the-

>> Eddie Yao: I run a high percentage of barley. I won’t give out all my secrets because I’ve been doing this for years, and a lot of folks don’t know how. I run a high percentage of barley, I run a much, much smaller percentage of corn.


That is the non GMO that, I mean the GMO that I will have in the feed also incorporates a substantial amount of hay in with the feed. I run a very light feed compared to what you could purchase, okay? By doing that, I’m able to free choice those animals.


Horse or cow, a lot of folks don’t know this, but you can’t just put feed out there. They will eat til they literally bloat, okay? Which is a serious problem. However, if you lighten up the feed to a point, that they’re full, but they’re not full off heavy feed, you can do that.


So what I’ve done, and that’s the change I’ve made from the way old folks used to do it. Old folks used to feed in the morning, feed in the evening. My feed’s out there in the pasture, with the grass all day long. And they’ll pick grass, that’ll fill up on that feed, which has a high percentage of hay.


And they do really well.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: They’re not on any kind of feed schedule.

>> Bradley Holt: So they’re just able to eat when they please?

>> Eddie Yao: Yes.

>> Bradley Holt: Basically.

>> Eddie Yao: And I won’t get my check ratios on the hay.

>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH] If not, you’re good.

>> Eddie Yao: You can’t do that on a big scale because feed companies couldn’t make enough money selling that kind of food.


Well, they could but then I couldn’t afford to sell beef at that price.

>> Bradley Holt: I got it. So basically, kind of like those old happy cow cheese commercials, the happy cows make the better beef here.

>> Eddie Yao: That’s right, let them eat when they’re hungry. Another thing is, the biggest reason I started grinding my own feed was because, to be able to control exactly what was in the feed.


All of new commercial operations, and I’ve worked in businesses not in grain but in minerals that used conveyor systems.

>> Bradley Holt: Mm-hm.

>> Eddie Yao: I don’t know if you ever been around the augers, the big augers and the belt conveyors with the buckets, bucket elevators.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah, I know what they look like.


>> Eddie Yao: Okay. So, you take a big bucket that’s grinding feed for the public, I won’t call any names cuz I don’t wanna be sued, okay?

>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]

>> Eddie Yao: But let’s say they have ran a batch of chicken feed, okay? When they convey it out of the grinder, it’s gonna come out in auger.


It’s gonna dump into a bucket elevator or some sort, it’s gonna go into some more augers, and they’re gonna fill the trucks up. Or they’re gonna go into a bagging operation to go back. They may run 1,000 ton, okay? Then they’re gonna switch over and they’re going to do hog feed, okay?


Typical way that they do that is they’ll do a purge. And what that means is the first ton or two of feed that comes through those augers after they went into their new grinding menu. They’ll waste that or they’ll mix in something that don’t matter. And they’re saying they cleaned it out.


But I can tell you, that when you’re dealing with augers and belt conveyors, they don’t get it all. I mean, once you put meat meal, which is a big thing in hog feed, chicken feed. They’re not vegetarians like cows are. Then they switch over and they do cow feed.


So they can say they haven’t put meat mill, and they haven’t.

>> Bradley Holt: It’s just cross contamination.

>> Eddie Yao: That’s exactly right. So I was telling people, I was going to local feed mills and having my grain ground and what have you. And I was saying, no meat mill, and I got to thinking about that thing.


And I thought well, the only way that you can legitimately say and be true to yourself is grind it yourself. So I got hammer mills, I got a couple hammer mills. And I don’t grind chicken feed, and I don’t grind hog feed. I grind cow feed.

>> Bradley Holt: Exclusively for cows, thereby-


>> Eddie Yao: They’re vegetarians. Chickens and hogs aren’t. People don’t realize that, too. You see the advertisements on TV of Eggland’s Best, and they’ll say a strictly vegetarian diet. That’s not normal for a chick. I can tell you that is absolutely not normal for chicken, but maybe the egg’s better, I don’t know.



>> Bradley Holt: So, what led you to that switch, then? How did you learn about, or what made you make that switch from buying it as opposed to grinding it up yourself?

>> Eddie Yao: Well, I have never bought it.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: Okay, but I was having somebody else grind it for me.


That’s been around for years. As a child in the 50s, if you went in, I was born in 52, so my earliest memories will be like 60, early 60s, but if you went to a local feed mill and you asked them, you brought most of those farmers back then brought their own grain, and we did, too.


They would ask you any supplements for the feed, they were talking about meat mill and bone mill, okay? Been around for a long time. Folks just been hearing about it, it was just this cheap source of protein.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah.

>> Eddie Yao: Okay?

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, now you said you were born in 52.


Were you born in this area?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, about, I was born on Rocky, well, Stemmick Herring Hospital, but I grew up my first years was on a small farm on Rocky River.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, and just for the record cuz I don’t think I stated it at the beginning, we are in Stanfield, North Carolina.


>> Eddie Yao: Yes.

>> Bradley Holt: Stanfield and how long have you been here, in Stanfield?

>> Eddie Yao: In this house here for 30 years.

>> Bradley Holt: 30 years, okay.

>> Eddie Yao: Yes.

>> Bradley Holt: And as for your farmland itself, where your livestock are, how long?

>> Eddie Yao: I’m on Yow Road, that particular portion of land has been in the family since 90.


And I had a cousin that owned it, was fixing to lose it, my dad stepped in and bought that at the time, I inherited it from him.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, and so you’ve-

>> Eddie Yao: We sold the farm on Rocky River back years ago.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, yeah, so you mentioned your father was into farming as well, was it?


>> Eddie Yao: Part time.

>> Bradley Holt: Part time, okay.

>> Eddie Yao: That’s something else that’s changed. When I was growing up, there were very few people, we talking in the 60s that farmed full time. And you had maybe in the area I knew one guy that farmed big enough that he did it full time, he also ran a feed mill business.


Most of your folks had anywhere from 60 to 80 acres. And they would farm that and would work public work, too. Things changed, back in the day, 60, 80 acres was probably all one guy could handle when you were talking horses and old tractors. But things changed, and that no longer took up their time and they could no longer make a living doing that, so he worked the farm, too.


>> Bradley Holt: So your father, part time farmer and then-

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, we raised our own hogs, and most folks back in the early 60s, out in the country did that. General hogs, we had a milk cow when I was a smaller.

>> Eddie Yao: We raised our own chickens, eggs forever.


I can’t ever remember buying eggs, never remember that.

>> Bradley Holt: Does that still continue today?

>> Eddie Yao: It does, I still have hens. I have ten laying hens, these haven’t been washed. I kind of furnish the family, ten hens will. Those haven’t been washed, wash them. That’s another thing, a lot of folks don’t understand that.


When an egg is laid, some folks call it a coupon or a bouquet, but it’s got this like film over it. If you don’t wash it, I think it’s like four or five weeks, I can’t testify to that because I don’t keep them that long. But I can tell you that a hen can lay out here in the woods if it’s a broody type hen and they have a clutch, so many eggs they’ll lay out at a time.


It’s about 12 to 16. They’ll lay there in the hot summer sun when the hen decides to brood on them when she’s laid out, so to speak. And those eggs will hatch. An egg is a living organism, it’s totally different from meats, a lot of folks wouldn’t understand that.


>> Bradley Holt: Yeah, I think I’ve read that over in England, they don’t wash their eggs, which is why they don’t have to be refrigerated.

>> Eddie Yao: They come with a built in protection.

>> Bradley Holt: Exactly.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: So you kind of adopt the more-

>> Eddie Yao: When I wash them, I let that bucket get full.


I just gave my brother in law a dozen eggs this morning, and he’s gonna have to wash those, but once I wash them, I put them in the refrigerator.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: I still live country, we still can all of our vegetables, I could show you jars of green beans, freezers full of peas, squash, okra.


Yeah, I still live basically like I grew up and the reason behind that, it’s not that I just super enjoy it. I do, I do. I can’t live, find that standard by going in a grocery store. Okay, I like being able to, that sort of thing. I like what I get from that garden, from what I get.


>> Bradley Holt: So growing up, did you end up kind of the same way you’re doing it now in terms of growing all of your own food and not really going to buy it?

>> Eddie Yao: We never bought anything.

>> Bradley Holt: Same way then?

>> Eddie Yao: Yes, now I’ll buy some things.

>> Eddie Yao: I love ice cream.


>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]

>> Eddie Yao: But I’ll buy some things, like maybe a pork loin. And then I just bought one this morning. I’ll buy things like that. Or we’re barbecuing, we’ll put in an order for a bunch of shoulders or Boston butts. We’ll do that. We do that at Christmas as a family thing.


If I can get my hands on it, my brother will still kill hogs every once in a while. I love the salt cured streaking in fat back, but I know where it’s come from. I really like that one that doesn’t have the seasoning put to it and some that you buy in the store do.


>> Bradley Holt: You gotta do it yourself to make it taste good.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, I’ve got quarts of green beans in the pantry. We just, that’s-

>> Bradley Holt: Do you grow those?

>> Eddie Yao: I’ll show you [INAUDIBLE] just a second.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, we grow everything.. I’ve got, sometimes I go at it too big, stay, stay, stay.


I forgot about the dog, [INAUDIBLE].

>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]

>> Bradley Holt: Stay.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah.

>> Eddie Yao: That’s mustard greens-

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: That’s string beans. We got packages of corn. The thing that has changed for me, the biggest thing in putting back vegetables, the thing that has changed is the food saver, best thing that’s came along for anybody gardening or into food preserving.


The old style was if you took stuff that you didn’t normally can, like peas, peas are better frozen than they are canned, corn, same way. Was that you blanched it, you brought your water to a hot simmer. Okay, and that helped it keep its freshness. With the food preserver, you package it fresh and freeze it immediately.


It’s the closest thing to fresh that you’ll ever eat.

>> Bradley Holt: So how much produce or plants do you also work with? Do you personally grow them?

>> Eddie Yao: I don’t sell anything. What produce that we do is for our own use.

>> Bradley Holt: Personal use?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, we got, maybe a half acre, three-quarters.


Okay, we spaghetti sauce, we do all of that. Wife does all of that.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: She’s listening. She does most of it. [LAUGH]

>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH] So you do at least have that mix of you’re doing livestock and then selling. But then you’re personally growing for yourself [INAUDIBLE] as well.


>> Eddie Yao: Eggs, produce we buy practically nothing in the line of vegetables at the grocery store.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, just the ice cream is what you needed.

>> Eddie Yao: Just the ice cream and I like Breyers.

>> Bradley Holt: Breyers, okay?

>> Eddie Yao: [LAUGH]

>> Bradley Holt: Do you make your own ever?

>> Eddie Yao: I have, I have a freezer, but I stay too busy.


I’ve already taken on too many projects, okay?

>> Bradley Holt: Mm-hm, okay, so you mentioned a little bit before we started the interview, how far back can you trace your family to this area of doing farming?

>> Eddie Yao: Forever.

>> Eddie Yao: By the geneology, my folks arrived at the time of Rico.


And thinking that that’s what pulled them into the area.

>> Eddie Yao: But that land I’m pretty sure that we got now was an original stake claim.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: Okay, part of a stake claim, it was a couple hundred acres at the time. And between me and my cousins, we’re still on it.


>> Bradley Holt: Yeah-

>> Eddie Yao: Got split up over the years.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah, a few of the other interviews I’ve listened so far that’s relatively common. It just gets split up and the lands gets smaller and smaller.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, but we grew up, we killed, it was always two big hogs a year, always, for family.


And that was my time to stay out of school. I get to keep the fire when I was small-

>> Bradley Holt: What time of year of would this be?

>> Eddie Yao: It’d be always right after Thanksgiving, between that Christmas. They’d wait for the whether to change cold, dry days, yeah.


>> Bradley Holt: And that’s when you would kill the hogs?

>> Eddie Yao: Yes.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, and how long would those last you?

>> Eddie Yao: A year.

>> Bradley Holt: A full year?

>> Eddie Yao: Back in the day that was a staple out in the country was what they called side meat, the country ham.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.


>> Eddie Yao: Your shoulders, the front part of the hog and the back part, the hams, was cured. And that was all called country ham, even though part of it was shoulders. And then the side portions of the hog was the fatback and streaky meat. Country folks call it streaky meat.


But you would salt that down, and what that was was like you didn’t eat a bunch of that stuff. At supper time in the summertime there might be fresh corn, string beans, and a piece or two of that streaky meat. There wasn’t a lot of big meals, big meats cooked during the week out in the country.


It just wasn’t available.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: And folks in the country didn’t trust buying beef and stuff out in stores.

>> Bradley Holt: My grandfather grew up on a tobacco farm and he-

>> Eddie Yao: You understand what I’m trying-

>> Bradley Holt: He was always, don’t bring the chicken into the house. I don’t want raw chicken in this house cuz he didn’t know where it was coming from.


>> Eddie Yao: That’s right.

>> Bradley Holt: I know exactly what you’re talking about there. Yeah, so that’s a really important thing for you is knowing where your food is coming from, right?

>> Eddie Yao: Absolutely, and the other thing is not having somebody do everything for you. And not losing a lot of that knowledge that’s getting lost, how to do things.


>> Bradley Holt: So you learned how to do all this from your?

>> Eddie Yao: Father.

>> Bradley Holt: Father?

>> Eddie Yao: And family.

>> Bradley Holt: And then he would’ve learned it from?

>> Eddie Yao: His father, so on.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, so what was it like growing up learning this?

>> Eddie Yao: I’ve seen lye soap made back in the day when it wasn’t popular to make lye soap.


Saw it made in a wash pot.

>> Bradley Holt: And what is lye soap?

>> Eddie Yao: Lye soap is made from animal fat and lye. And just to give you a little history on that, I asked my dad one time years later. We were talking about him making that lye soap.


And he would use it out around the barn. I can’t remember exactly all the uses he put it to. I mean, you could buy soap at the store it too at that time. But I asked him one time, I said, well, if everybody kinda made it on their own, I said, who they find Red Devil lye to put in lye soap?


And he looked at me like I was stupid. He said, son, he said, they made their own lye. He said everybody had an ash hopper when I was a kid. And he said, like he way he explained it, they took the ashes out of their wood heaters, and they put in a hopper made out of boards.


And as it rained, that leached through into a catch basin underneath. And that’s your lye, so that was the way of doing things, if you knew how to do it, yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: If memory servers, lye soap was fairly harsh, wasn’t it?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, it was strong. It would clean, definitely clean with the lye.


But it was as strong as you made it, I imagine.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: It probably depend on who’s lye soap you were using as to what strength whether their skin would stay on or not, yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: So the lye soap was one of the things that you learned how to make from your-


>> Eddie Yao: Well, I don’t know how to make it. But I’ve seen it made.

>> Bradley Holt: You’ve seen it.

>> Eddie Yao: I’m sure I could figure it out. But I’ve got no use for it. But I just got to see a lot of things. He still had a horse, when I was a kid, that was a trained work horse.


And he would do that when somebody was there just to show them how good that horse was. He would pull the wagon out. He had a old corn. He had pulled the wagon up parallel, out far enough that the horse could maneuver. And then with him standing on the ground and the reigns up in the wagon, he would pull that horse up backward and get her to back that wagon right up to that horse.


>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]

>> Bradley Holt: Like showing off the-

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, she was good, and he would just show them how good she was.

>> Bradley Holt: Did you ever learn how to do that, work a horse?

>> Eddie Yao: I have worked a garden with a horse.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, I have the for cultivation and a plough, and I’ve done that, absolutely.


I’ve driven one with a wagon when I was a child too. A lot of that was just doing it the old way when we had time.

>> Bradley Holt: Keeping the traditions.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: So when did it become clear to you, or let me rephrase this. Was there ever a point where you thought you might not continue the farming tradition of the family?


>> Eddie Yao: It just kind of stays with you.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: There was a period of time in the 70s and 80s when I didn’t do anything but garden. And I can’t remember exactly how it happened. I started leasing pasture land here and there. We always had a beef that we were feeding off ourselves, okay?


I can’t ever remember a time that I didn’t have beef in the freezer from something that I had fed out or raised out to maturity. But I just started just gaining cows, gaining cows and I got back into it in the 80s, and I have just been into it ever since in a bigger sort of way instead of just for myself.


I always liked the fact that I could produce as much beef as what I do, and feed as many people as what I do. It’s a lot to just your own weight. But when you can help carry along somebody else too, and give him something he can’t get anywhere else, kinda a good thing.


I like over producing.

>> Bradley Holt: You like over producing? Yeah, I do remember your freezer was nice and full at the farmer’s market.

>> Eddie Yao: I always plant too many vegetables and give stuff away. I like being able to do that.

>> Bradley Holt: I feel like that’s a really common out in the country.


>> Eddie Yao: It is.

>> Bradley Holt: I mean we’re about 45 minutes out from Concord, I think. Was it always kind of that communal farming?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, everybody, when I was growing up, had a garden, and everybody was always sharing. Need any green beans? Come on over, pick them. They weren’t gonna pick them for you.


>> Bradley Holt: Yeah

>> Eddie Yao: But you come on and that sort of thing. And another thing that’s disappeared is when I was a child, practically every farmer or every small acreage had an orchard of some kind. They would have apple trees or damsels, plums they would make jellies out of, and that’s just gone away.


That has just gone away.

>> Bradley Holt: Do you think there is a reason for that?

>> Eddie Yao: My people, when you work and you’re not there at home a lot, you just don’t have the opportunity, that sort of thing. Putting up stuff takes a lot of extra work and a lot of folks are just not willing to do that.


My neighbor was mowing his orchard with his horses, he was a true farmer. He never did anything but farm. My earliest memory of him he was in his 60s, and he had a nice orchard, a lot of apple trees, some peach trees. And he was out with his two horses, had them hooked up to a horse drawn mower machine.


Just a sickle bar. He had a seat for riding back there. And I asked my dad, I said dad, is that the way you folks did it when you were growing up? [LAUGH] He said no son, he said, back in my day, you pulled up every bit of grass you saw growing.


It was a snake issue, I think. Yeah, yeah. They just, he said your yards were swept. He said, you did not allow grass to grow around your house and in your yard. It’s just hard to imagine, but.

>> Bradley Holt: Now I can’t muster up the motivation sometimes to mow my grass once a week.


>> Eddie Yao: I know it. I know it. And then back in the day, they actually kept the grass pulled up and the yard swept with those old straw brooms, yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: And you said him using the horse and the scythe was in the 1960s?

>> Eddie Yao: When I saw that, that would have been mid-60s, somewhere along that line.


>> Bradley Holt: That’s just a little bit.

>> Eddie Yao: At that time, you still had the folks that had farmed up through the 20s and the 30s and 40s and were still living, and still had their old horses. He would borrow my dad’s horse when they, his cash crop was cotton.


>> Bradley Holt: Cotton?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: Basically back then, see it’s not like now. There wasn’t a lot of market for corn. You didn’t see the big corn fields, you didn’t have the big farmers like you’ve got now that could do a couple of thousand acres. So what corn was grown was for their own use, their animals and their livestock.


The one crop that they could sell, soy beans was almost nonexistent when I was a child around here. I don’t remember the first time I saw a soybean field. But cotton was the one thing that somebody that was the true farmer that was surviving from the farm could grow and sell.


And they had cotton. And he would borrow it, when they were working their cotton, he would borrow my dad’s horse. He had several grown boys that would come in and help him, and cultivate that cotton with horses.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah, I am aware of that. Down by Norwood, I know that they have some really large cotton fields down that way.


>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, and I know that guy, and-

>> Bradley Holt: Is it one guy who owns all that?

>> Eddie Yao: There’s actually two. But, the one that you see if you go Plank Road, if you’ve been that Plank Road going back side of nowhere down through there and saw those huge, that’s Frank Lee.


>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: Okay. Yeah, you got mega farmers now. The people that are in farming now are actually agribusiness. It’s not like it used to be.

>> Bradley Holt: So when you say agribusiness, what do you mean by that?

>> Eddie Yao: He’s growing several different crops to sell. The cottons not that, that’s totally for sale.


The beans are totally for sale, and the corn is totally for sale. Most of them of your row croppers now it’s not true in all of them, they’re the row croppers. They’re not raising livestock and that sort of thing.

>> Bradley Holt: So it’s road cropper?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, it’s row crops, corn-


>> Bradley Holt: Row.

>> Eddie Yao: Bean, that’s what he’s calling it.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, okay, row cropper.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, a lot of folks, I’ll put this in there, they don’t understand how the GMOs happened. Before GMOs, everything was cultivated, okay? That meant going in there with either horse or tractors and taking the grass out of it after it got so high after it germinated.


That’s not done anymore, and the reason is they were able to go in there and spray and kill all the grass. And it came about for a good reason. It wasn’t that, I’m not a GMO fan either, but the no till program is what started all of that.


Erosion was a real issue, okay? When you planted, what you did, you come in and you turn the soil over first thing. Exposed it, okay? Comes the rains, a lot of your top soil washed away. When they went to the no till, they come in there now, they spray the top of the ground, they kill everything, okay?


They’ve got no till machines that plant the seed right on top of the ground without turning off, you don’t have the problem with erosion that you once had. But since you can’t cultivate once you do no till, there is no cultivation, you can’t cultivate. They started using pre-emergents, and it worked okay on the beans but not so much on the corn.


>> Bradley Holt: When did that start?

>> Eddie Yao: I don’t wanna tell you wrong, but the first I remember of it was when it really got big. It would’ve been sometime in the late 70s, early 80s.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: Your agricultural park was actually encouraging and had incentives for you to go no till.


They were really fighting the erosion thing. And so that’s how your GMOs happened. It wasn’t from a necessarily bad standpoint. What happens always is not good, you kind of trade off one for the other, yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah, you try to pick the lesser of two evils.

>> Eddie Yao: That’s right.


>> Bradley Holt: So today, do you have like a standard day or is just every day a different-

>> Eddie Yao: Every day is different.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, what are some of the common processes you kinda have to work through?

>> Eddie Yao: Grinding grain. Finding grain. I don’t raise any grain, sometimes I might do a little barley.


I buy from neighbors.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: Watching out for the pitfalls. I may have told you about getting a load of bad corn and having it tested and the guy came and got it back. I know it didn’t cost anything except my time. A lot of folks worry about GMOs.


With corn, or peanuts, there are much bigger issue that you gotta be concerned about and that’s the aflatoxins. It happens in those two crops. And you’ll have all kinda explanation of why it happens and when it happens. But everybody wants to talk about stress, maybe that’s it. A little bit dryer than usual, but it’s carcinogen.


>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: And it can be passed on. Luckily, I had heard that it was prevalent in some people’s crops. And I had just got the load in and I took it to a fairly large farmer, a really large farmer that lives close to me, he’s got a testing lamp.


And it was out the roof. Yeah so I called the guy I got it from. He come and got it and I talked to another guy, another neighbor. And he said, well you come and get some of mine, it looks really good he said, and you have it tested if you want, so I did.


It was out the bottom so I got a load of that. But you you’re gotta watch for, just because it’s non-GMO corn that was used, that wouldn’t be the big issue for me. I can tell you. There’s other things out there that’ll get you. You just gotta know and you gotta be careful.


And I try to be careful.

>> Bradley Holt: Mm-hm.

>> Eddie Yao: I don’t wanna eat anything like that, let alone sell anything like that.

>> Bradley Holt: And when did you start selling?

>> Eddie Yao: Maybe, I’m just gonna guess.

>> Bradley Holt: Mm-hm.

>> Eddie Yao: 15 years ago maybe.

>> Bradley Holt: 15 years ago?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, now, I’ve raised some cows and was selling calves, but I’m talking about the individuals.


>> Bradley Holt: Yeah

>> Eddie Yao: When I had the commercial heard most of what I raised went to the stockyard. I would pull caves out of that, that I would go on out and sell to people that wanted.

>> Bradley Holt: And so today I think you mentioned earlier you kind of do that yourself the stockade and the slaughtering and all that?


>> Eddie Yao: No, no, I can’t do the slaughtering by state law.

>> Bradley Holt: State law?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, yeah. I take it to Cruze’s. That’s at Rommertown, the other side of Mount Pleasant. He did have a state inspector. Now he’s got federal. But if you sell within the state it really is not an issue.


And I am not going to say that one is more particular than the other as far as these judgement calls. I can’t see a big difference. They package it, put the weights to price and they vacuum seal, they do the vacuum seal, which best thing [INAUDIBLE] ever come along.


Just like the food saver with the, yeah, I can tell you. Gives whole new meaning to that frozen beef or meats, yeah. You can’t tell the difference when you open a package fresh, just looking at it you can tell the difference

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, so has there always been the state law on having to have the inspector at the slaughterhouse, or when did, do you know if-


>> Eddie Yao: I don’t know, I can tell you that growing up, well, it’s like things have changed so much. You didn’t eat sausage year round, and pork. You only ate it in the fall of the year when you killed hogs. Beef was a little different. You ate beef, a lot of folk had milk cows.


And when the milk cow would have a [INAUDIBLE] you didn’t see the commercial herds like you see around here now. You just didn’t see that. Pasture might have a few Herefords in it, but the Black Angus was nonexistent. So folks will have a milk cow and have a milk cow, you’ve got to keep her bred.


It’s not like she starts giving milk and that’s for the rest of her life. So they would have a like a male calf. Well, most farmers were not going to keep the male calf doesn’t give any milk. So when that calf got up about 4 or 500 pounds, they go around, they’d slaughter it themselves.


And they’d go around, most of it being beef, cut up chunks, and they would sell it out. That was the only time that you ever got beef.

>> Bradley Holt: So it was seasonally, it wasn’t year round.

>> Eddie Yao: Occasionally would be the word for it. You just didn’t eat beef that often.


It just wasn’t available. Most country people, they’d heard the tales of horse meat and stuff like that. They just weren’t gonna buy it, and you didn’t have the major supermarkets around in our area like you’ve got now. Wasn’t available. You’d go to Concord or you go to you had to travel, okay?


>> Bradley Holt: Okay, so how

>> Bradley Holt: How often did you go into like Concord or Charlotte like some of the-

>> Eddie Yao: To buy meats and stuff? Never.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah buy anything just anything in general.

>> Eddie Yao: Well now if it was closed, you’d go to Concord or. And this area is situated between Charlotte and Concord Monroe so you have a selection.


But typically you’d go to town to buy clothes for school and that sort of thing. It was far and few between.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay so for the most part you were-

>> Eddie Yao: Here.

>> Bradley Holt: Self-sufficent out here.

>> Eddie Yao: Absolutely.

>> Bradley Holt: And I don’t think of this as the country in a way becuase-


>> Eddie Yao: It’s not.

>> Bradley Holt: The highways have been built and everything now.

>> Eddie Yao: It’s not anymore. I can remember when a lot of roads around here weren’t even paved. And there was a time when I knew everybody that lived in the Stanfield area. Basically, that’s not true anymore. The country is disappearing fast, really fast.


>> Bradley Holt: So kind of building off of that a little bit, how, over the past 15 years, have your operations changed? Are there any major changes that come to mind?

>> Eddie Yao: There are no more small feed mills around feed ground. Those are gone.

>> Eddie Yao: And that’s a big thing.


>> Eddie Yao: Luckily, they’ve tightened up on the regulations. Just because somebody’s from the country doesn’t mean there are scruples of what they should be, and They do tests, ever so often they’ll come in and take samples of the meat hanging at the processing houses. And they’re testing for stuff like cattle wormer that has a withdrawal period, antibiotics that have a withdrawal period, so they do test that.


I’ve never had a problem with that and mine has been tested. The other thing is the packing used to take animals in that were call downers. And what that meant was, especially dairy cattle in particular, can get down in their back, but it wouldn’t matter. It could be broken leg or whatever.


And you had folks that would come around with trailers and a winch and they would winch those animals up onto the truck. And there were packing houses that would process them. And now the rule is he walks in under his own power or it doesn’t get slaughtered. And they have other regulations, too, about different things that they didn’t used to have ten years ago on what they could slaughter.


>> Bradley Holt: So they’re tightening up a lot of this.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, that mad cow thing opened up a lot of people’s eyes and it caused them to look at other things, too, okay?

>> Bradley Holt: So you view these regulations as a positive, for the most part?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, yeah, from that standpoint, yeah, yeah.


A lot of people that would come around selling the beef like I was telling you. They didn’t let it get mature because most people wouldn’t have figured it out. But they were folks in the country that would come around selling beef out that we knew that my folks wouldn’t buy meat from.


>> Eddie Yao: Okay, people’s standards are just different than what yours are.

>> Bradley Holt: Mm-hm.

>> Eddie Yao: Okay.

>> Bradley Holt: So moving on a little bit now to the actual selling of the product, I’m aware you do sell at the Winecoff Farmers Market. I personally bought a couple steaks from you, and I overdid them a little bit cuz they were bigger than what I’m used to cooking them from the store.


>> Eddie Yao: I used to sell at the one in Morrisville. And I used to sell at one south of Concord up there, Afton Village, I think was the name of it.


>> Bradley Holt: Yeah.

>> Eddie Yao: But that market, I just didn’t do enough. And there was some traffic issues getting in and out at Afton Village. And Morrisville was just too far. So now I’m basically, now I sold at Harrisburg for a while.

>> Bradley Holt: Harrisburg.

>> Eddie Yao: But I’m getting older and and this running down the road don’t suit me, and preparing the sale like it did.


Got a little store up in Morrisville and got one down toward, it’s on Badin Lake. It’s actually in Montgomery County, there’s a resort, a gated community down there. I’m trying to think of the name of it. But anyway, got one there that sells for me. This guy that’s in the same business I’m in, he’s more pork than he is beef.


I’ll sell to people like that they want something they can sell.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, so you kind of act as a supplement to other sellers as well as personally selling for yourself?

>> Eddie Yao: Yes.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: If I have extra.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah, so have you always been selling at these farmers markets?


When you said you started kind of 15 years ago, was it to farmers markets or who were you selling to at the outset?

>> Eddie Yao: I got up to three farmers markets about four years ago. And I cut all that out about two years ago. I did it for about two years.


But it was just keeping me away from doing what I needed to do. And they were during the week, and they were after 12 o’clock.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: And I wasn’t getting home till like 7:30. And then I had animals to tend to. So it just didn’t work out.


It just didn’t mesh with what I was doing.

>> Bradley Holt: So, when you get going at these farmer’s markets, did you reach out to them or did they reach out to you to sell?

>> Eddie Yao: They came to me.

>> Bradley Holt: They go to you?

>> Eddie Yao: At that time, they were just getting into the protein.


They weren’t selling eggs.

>> Bradley Holt: And we’re talking about Winecoff, right?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, and you’re talking about, this would’ve been 2007, 2006, maybe, that’s how fast this has come along. By the time I could get my license and get set up with, at that time the nearest place that was doing this, made it legal, putting the weight, the package labeling was at City.


And I was having to haul an hour and half to get them done. But they came to me, and by the time I got to the market, it took me not quite a year, and folks were there, too. And I don’t think anybody was selling eggs, even at that time.


And that’s really came along big time in the last five, six years, let’s say, folks getting into that.

>> Bradley Holt: Selling eggs at the farmers market?

>> Eddie Yao: Mm-hm, mm-hm.

>> Bradley Holt: What other ways have things changed at the farmers markets over the year?

>> Eddie Yao: Less small timers, folks that are farming just say a half acre or so, come in with potatoes or whatever is coming off, onions, peas.


But now, it’s more the folks that are into even a little bit bigger scale.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: That do the raised beds, and they’re doing things like a raised bed that’s probably about 20 to 24 inches. They’ll have three rows of peas or green beans close together. And got help picking them, that sort of thing, that has changed.


>> Bradley Holt: Do you have any outside labor force that helps you, or is everything-

>> Eddie Yao: Just occasionally.

>> Bradley Holt: Occasionally?

>> Eddie Yao: Occasionally, like with the hay, I’ve got a guy that I raise the hay. He comes in and he’ll cut it and bale it for me. And I get it out of the field.


When I have trouble, I need some help, I’ve got several folks I can call on to come in and help me. But mostly I’m a one man show. And I’m trying I, well, I know I’m gonna keep it that way. My age, I will keep it that way.


>> Bradley Holt: So before you retired, did you rely on more labor as you were working in public fields?

>> Eddie Yao: Yes, yes. Yeah, I had a young guy who helped me for several years.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: So in terms of the farmers market changing, it’s most likely the small timers are kind of getting pushed out a little bit now?


>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, yeah. You don’t see the folks a little bit older than myself that were going there, about my age. That just had a big garden and would plant extra tomato plants, and were selling tomatoes, squash. It’s people that’s more or less making a living at it. It’s still local.


>> Bradley Holt: Yeah.

>> Eddie Yao: They’re still growing it. But it’s more commercial, what I would call commercial, even though it’s local. They’re not as big as the big growers, the Armani and folks like that. But they’re doing five, ten acres, which is huge when you’re talking produce gardening. Yeah, they’re doing irrigation with the drip lines and that sort of thing.


>> Bradley Holt: So why do you believe that people choose the farmers’ markets over grocery stores? Cuz I feel like there’s been an increased interest in farmers’ markets recently.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, it’s a trust issue.

>> Bradley Holt: Trust?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, when you go into a supermarket, you don’t know where the vegetables come from.


I mean, I’m talking countries, you don’t know where the beef comes from. Basically, you don’t have a clue. You don’t know their standards of cleanliness, just handling stuff.

>> Eddie Yao: I think it’s a trust issue. I think everybody’s seen the horror stories on TV news. And it’s not all bad, I mean, it’s not.


But you’re losing control, is what it boils down to.

>> Bradley Holt: So you think people are trying to kind of reclaim a little bit of that control over their food again?

>> Eddie Yao: I think so. I’ve always been like that.

>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]

>> Eddie Yao: But I think it’s just beginning to realize it’s like anything else, you can’t have everything done for you and expect it to be the way you would do it.


That just doesn’t happen. My mother, I’ll just give you this example, I bought a can of greens, just like you see setting up there on the table that we canned. And I bought them, I told her I had done that, and she said I can’t believe you’d buy some.


There’s no way I’m gonna eat anything like that. Well, she said they just can’t be as careful looking, that’s what she called them, preparing it, looking it and preparing it. I bought another can shortly after there and I had emptied them out and there was a half a cricket.


>> Bradley Holt: Ugh.

>> Eddie Yao: Not a cricket but a grasshopper, I guess the machinery just couldn’t, it was just absolutely rank. You could put it in a big batch and wash it, but it’s not the same thing as somebody there looking at it. Or you looking at it, preparing it.


It’s just not the same thing.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah, I-

>> Eddie Yao: I don’t think I bought any since.

>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH] I work in grocery, and I’ve dealt with produce and grocery, and I remember just recently the big romaine e-coli scare.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: And we had to pull everything because none of the romaine was source.


We had no clue where any of it came from. And so that’s exactly what you’re talking about right there.

>> Eddie Yao: And the big thing I remember with Meeks was when they had the, that was Cargill, and I don’t know how many years ago that was, but they had the contaminated.


And their statement was, I think they were doing it, they just did to have it banned. Their statement was that it had been mixed together, and it was from nine different locations. And I think they’ve changed the laws on that now, they should have. But I think they was just playing the game to keep from having, not being able to take it from their farms in whatever country and bring it in here, yeah.


But why would your Pa ever do something like that? Nix, just from a standpoint of control and being able to, I think that’s it.

>> Bradley Holt: Reclaiming that control. So, you’re a bit outside of the Charlotte metro area. Like I said, about 45 minutes outside of Concord probably, 90 minutes, maybe, outside of Charlotte, maybe a little bit less.


>> Eddie Yao: Less than that, about 50 minutes, it’s actually, you go down 2427 and be in Charlotte probably as quick as I can be in Concord.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay, okay, I try not to drive into Charlotte if I can help it.

>> Eddie Yao: I don’t drive in Charlotte. If we go, I’ve got a driver.


>> Bradley Holt: So Charlotte’s continuing to expand as well as a lot of the other little cities, Concord, Kannapolis, Monroe maybe even. Has that sort of growth affected you in any way even though you’re a little bit outside here?

>> Eddie Yao: Not really, I tell you who it would affect, it really would affect anybody that’s wanting to get in with this sort of thing or continue on.


>> Eddie Yao: One thing that has helped in this state to a point is the land use laws. Before that happened back in the 80s, I think that was in the 80s, real estate value would force the sale of most farms whenever the heirs, not the heirs, but the folks died off, and there was a bunch of children involved.


Now, you can get a special tax status on the land. But somebody going out to purchase land that wasn’t under that person, it’d be kind of tough to get started. We’re not rural, there’s a term for it. What do you call it when you’re not rural but you’re not urban?


>> Bradley Holt: Suburban.

>> Eddie Yao: No, they say something. I saw something come on. It was pretty accurate the way it was stated, but that’s what’s happening around here. Servicing programs are going in and buying up or buying, doing the contract thing, where the land has to stay in farming. And that’s a great thing.


And that’s happened with a lot of places around here. But this was all mostly down in the little town of Stanfield. But it was all the small farms. Yeah, all the small farms.

>> Bradley Holt: So just those farms as far as the eye can see but now it’s just?


>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: A lot of it’s dormant or-

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: Underdeveloped.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: Okay.

>> Bradley Holt: So are you?

>> Eddie Yao: It’s gonna get more so.

>> Bradley Holt: You think so?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, Charlotte’s growing. And farm land is not valued in this country cuz it’s more of it than we need to feed ourselves.


It’s not like I understand in Europe where it don’t matter if you own it or not, you’re not gonna build on it. And it’ll come to that one day here if the population continues to grow. It’ll have to, it’ll have to.

>> Bradley Holt: So are you part of any local cooperative farming organizations?


>> Eddie Yao: No.

>> Bradley Holt: So it sounds to me like a lot of your organization is more informal, just kind of working with other people and less of a more of a institutional type organization?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: And is that kind of something that’s just traditional, just every one has always kind of helped out each other?


>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, yeah, wasn’t uncommon when I was growing up, somebody was harvesting one thing, and other ones wasn’t ready for them to help out. If nothing but driving a truck, or whatever, but In this area, now if I’m understanding, I’ve had friends up north. Up north you have the co-ops, but down here it was basically small farm, okay?


And somebody in the area would have a new version of a combine that was combining for everybody in the area. So it wasn’t like you had to own a big combine or stay abreast about that.

>> Eddie Yao: I don’t know when it actually started happening. But you couldn’t go anywhere and buy.


You could have a few meals round your shop, but there was no place I know right here in this area where you could go and buy cow feed or horse feed. They just didn’t exist. Our old work horse got corn on the ear and trust me, she could eat it too.


>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]

>> Eddie Yao: And the hogs were the same way. My folks didn’t want anything but corn fed hogs. I have toted many a five gallon bucket to those two hogs that I have every year, put it out, and a hog don’t waste it, trust me. If a grain popped off he can find it.


>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]

>> Eddie Yao: But things have just changed

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: So I guess, wrapping things up a little bit here, what sort of lessons has your experience working in farming and livestock raising taught you over the years?

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah, first of all, you gotta like doing it or you’re not gonna be in it.


I don’t make a lot of money doing what I’m doing. I make a little but I enjoy it. And in the process, I raise my own food too. So, it kind of gives me an avenue. I stay in it. I just produce more than what I need. And I’ve got a market for it


>> Eddie Yao: I’m able to still live the life that I kinda grew up with, to a point. The one thing that’s difficult with me is, I’m trying to be funny, is that unlike the farmers in my day, I’m pickup poor. I’ve got three pickups. It’s a long story.

>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]


>> Eddie Yao: Farmers, in my day, very few of them own pickup trucks. It’s hard for folks to imagine how they did it. Well, tractor and trailer behind it going to the field. They didn’t have to go long distances. I know a guy that’s in dairy business that he would carry his bull calves that he wasn’t gonna keep to the sale barn.


There’s a market for day old calves. In the trunk of his car, a baby calf will travel real well if you tie his feet, you hobbled him and just lay him down. But that’s a big change. Folks don’t realize that most farmers, in this area anyway, didn’t own pickup trucks.


They might have a old, big truck of some sort, but it’s a huge change. But, I like the pick-ups-

>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]

>> Eddie Yao: As far as getting work done, yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: Very helpful for you, I’m sure.

>> Eddie Yao: Absolutely.

>> Bradley Holt: So looking to the future a little bit, do you envision your business continuing-


>> Eddie Yao: For a while.

>> Bradley Holt: Through your family taking over?

>> Eddie Yao: Not really. They may continue to raise some cows and sell it to keep the farm going but most of them are tied up in what they’re doing that they just would not have the time. But they’ll keep the animals on the farm and that sort of thing.


>> Bradley Holt: Okay

>> Eddie Yao: They’ll do that.

>> Bradley Holt: So how do you envision local farming will look in the future? You kinda brought it up a little bit with the land usage. What other things do you think will change in the future looking forward?

>> Eddie Yao: I think much to your small farmers.


Let me put it to you this way, I do enough business that it didn’t really affect me but, think just recently, in a farm bill, it’s been within the last couple years, changed the qualifications for tax exemption on farm animals. When I started at this, I think it was $1000 of revenue, okay?


For you to be able to qualify for tax exemption on stuff like fertilizer, seeds, animal feed, anything agricultural. It was recently changed to $10,000. Now what that does is, your small truck farmers that got a half acre out here, he can no longer compete, not really. Because everything he’s got, he’s gonna pay more for than the guy that’s doing the five to ten acres, more in a commercial scale.


It’s the same thing like some guy holding onto five, ten acres of land. And he goes and buys some calves in the springtime. Push them out there, gets them good and fat. Takes them to the market and sells them. He’s not gonna clear that $10,000. So if he buys fertilizer and put on his pasture, it’s a lot harder to be competitive.


Now, it didn’t affect me because my revenue was such that. But things like that really hurt somebody that’s got 100 chickens and they’re cashing on them and selling eggs. There are feed that they’re buying for them, they can’t get the tax exemption on that now. But little things like that can have an impact.


But cost of land is probably the biggest.

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah. [LAUGH]

>> Eddie Yao: By far.

>> Bradley Holt: Especially out this direction where they’re trying to expand everything it feels like.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah. It’s just hard. Just like the guys with the five, ten acres doing it. I got a guy that sells besides me up there and he’s just close to organic.


He just won’t go to the aggravation and the problem of getting the testing of it. But what I was gonna say was, there is no way that the guy with five to ten acres can be as close to organic natural-

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah

>> Eddie Yao: As say, a small guy with a small patch.


>> Bradley Holt: I actually did speak with someone who sells a lot of farmer’s organic products. But he was telling me, a lot of it’s organically grown but they can’t go through the certification process just due to the costs and the regulations behind it.

>> Eddie Yao: Right.

>> Bradley Holt: So I guess my final question for the day, what do you want people to take away the most about farming?


What’s the most important thing someone should know about what you do?

>> Eddie Yao: Especially with meats,

>> Eddie Yao: Everybody has a sales pitch, okay? Most imported thing, when you’re buying eggs, fish Beef, pork, lamb, especially on the meats, is that you just got to find somebody you could trust because folks would tell you anything.


You got to find somebody that’s particular about what they eat to begin with, cuz if they’ll eat anything, they’ll sell you anything, okay?

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah.

>> Eddie Yao: It’s hugely a matter of trust finding somebody that you believe shoots straight, and is not gonna do anything to endanger themselves, let alone endanger you.


Yeah, yeah, I think it’s a matter of trust.

>> Bradley Holt: And that kind of goes back to why people are kind of shifting to those farmers’ markets again?

>> Eddie Yao: Now if I thought you were selling something to somebody that’s gonna kill them, I’d speak out, but it’s like the pasture raised beef.


I don’t look at it. But I know that if I was a shopper, knowing what I know, they probably don’t know, and I saw white fat on a pasteurized beef, I would know that somebody was not telling it like it was. That does not happen with pasture raised beef.


The other thing that I would point out to people is to know the questions to ask. Grass doesn’t grow year round here. So if somebody tells you, they’re totally grass-fed, what are they feeding those animals in the winter? And how old are the animals when they’re slaughtered?

>> Eddie Yao: A steer is like a young person.


His mama can sit there and eat grass and hay, and as long as she gets about 2% of her body weight during the day, it don’t matter what it is, she’ll maintain and she’ll do just fine. But that steer is like a young person. He’s growing muscle, he’s growing bone.


Once mama weans him off or he gets to a size that the milk is no longer enough to propel him on, if his genetics tell him in his body that he’s gonna weigh 1400 pounds at maturity, then what you’re doing is you’re delaying his growth if he doesn’t get what he needs.


So I can tell you that a typical steer at 16 months of age, if he gets what he wants and needs to eat, will weigh about between 12 and 1400 pounds, okay? Now, if he doesn’t get what he needs, that same steer would take 22 to 24 months, so what’s the point in that?


What’s the health benefit in that? There is none. There is none. All that’s telling you is he can reach his mature, marbled, hopefully perfectly marbled, weight in 16 months. So if you don’t supplement, grass is great and I’m glad I got plenty of it for mine. I think they need a balanced diet, it’s like anything else.


But to say that grain is bad, typically it’s because of corn and the GMOs, but in the Bible it says, with Solomon, he grained fat and cattle. I know there weren’t any corn in there cuz corn was over here in the Americas, but feeding an animal is not bad.



>> Bradley Holt: Yeah.

>> Eddie Yao: Yeah.

>> Bradley Holt: So, it sounds like-

>> Eddie Yao: I’m saying that,

>> Eddie Yao: Reading the book on how to build a rocket to the moon doesn’t empower you to do that. It gives you a general knowledge. And folks need just read between the lines and look at it in a deeper sense.


Everybody knows that GMOs are not well liked. I’m not a fan of them either. But you can’t let yourself get zeroed in on just one particular thing and forget about, not being able to see the forest for the trees so to speak.

>> Bradley Holt: [LAUGH]

>> Eddie Yao: Okay?

>> Bradley Holt: Yeah.


>> Eddie Yao: There’s just a lot out there and if you’re buying produce or beef, or meats, or eggs from somebody, you just gotta know that they know what they’re doing, and that they’re not an unscrupulous sorta person, they’re gonna do it right.

>> Bradley Holt: Going back to that trust thing.


>> Eddie Yao: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.

>> Bradley Holt: Well thank you for sitting down with me today. Are there any final remarks you’d like to make?

>> Eddie Yao: I think we’ve talked a little bit about everything. If there is something else you want to ask me then feel free.

>> Bradley Holt: I think we hit on just about everything.


>> Eddie Yao: Okay, if you’ve got what you needed,

>> Bradley Holt: Thank you again.

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