The state of Montana, known as “Big Sky Country,” is home to the beautiful Stoddard Ranch. With a mountain of ambition, Leonard Stoddard began a lifelong dream of being a rancher. From feeding cattle in the frigid winters to riding his horse or 4-wheeler in the summer heat to check cattle, it was evident Leonard had a true passion for ranching. This week we graze across the open grasslands to learn about Leonard & Steve Stoddard and the Stoddard Ranch story.
Stoddard Ranch began with Leonard Stoddard in the 1950’s and his son, Steve Stoddard, who joined the operation after he graduated from high school in 1972. It was a struggle to support two families and grow the ranch at the same time. Financial constraints combined with the lack of ability to grow in adjacent areas eventually forced Steve to lease land at an alternate location near Colony, Wyoming. Eventually, Steve grew enough equity in his cattle for Leonard to sell their smaller ranch located in Hulett, Wyoming. This sale led to the purchase of a 600-head cattle ranch in Hammond, Montana. It consists of 25,000 acres with an additional 18,000 acres they lease. In 2018, Leonard passed away, but Steve and his partner, Julie Emmons continued to build on to the ranch, adding two lease locations, which allowed them to increase to around 1,100 head of cattle.
Today, Stoddard Ranch partners with IMI Global, a division of Where Food Comes From, Inc., for third-party verification associated with livestock production. Stoddard Ranch qualifies for Source & Age, Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC), Verified Natural Beef and the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) 5-Step Animal Welfare Review Program.
Because consumers are demanding products meet these verification requirements, Stoddard Ranch has received premiums on their cattle. While there is a record keeping aspect that needs to be adhered to, Stoddard Ranch has found that the premium from participating in the program far outweighs the extra paperwork that is required to qualify. Upon closer inspection, they realized that were only a few requirements set forth by the programs that they didn’t already adhere to. For them, it is simply a matter of recording the information and working with the verification specialists that continuously work with them to ensure they are meeting the requirements.
Stoddard Ranch believe most, if not all producers in their area, take pride in what they do and treat their cattle with respect. Stoddard Ranch is excited to share their story and tell consumers where their beef comes from. They feel that connecting consumers directly to their beef producers is critical in today’s marketplace. Now more than ever consumers are asking the right questions and want to know how their food is produced from origin to fork. Stoddard Ranch cares about the product they offer and they stand behind the verification processes provided by Where Food Comes From. These programs give consumers confidence in the product they receive by providing details about the livestock and the production. Stoddard Ranch will continue to work with IMI Global because they see the value in doing so. They take pride in delivering an all-natural, hormone-free product straight from the ranges of Montana. And, they love what we do.