One of the industry's all-time great leaders and innovators passed away this week. W.D. Farr, the patriarch of an internationally known family cattle-feeding enterprise recognized for many years as one of the most technically advanced in the world, was 97 years old when he died Monday at his home in Greeley, CO. He was one of those amazing people who seemed to have fit two or three lifetimes into one life.
Farr was known for helping bring commercial cattle feeding to the state of Colorado. He pioneered year-round cattle feeding, the feeding of high-moisture corn and many other feeding innovations. But he was likewise considered a giant in the water area, being a leading driver behind water-development projects in the West, understanding early on that water was the region's lifeblood. An example of his dedication is that Farr served as president of the Greeley Water Board for 39 of its first 40 years.
He was also a tremendously successful banker, in addition to being a cattle feeder. And he served three different U.S. presidents as an advisor for agriculture. A Denver Post article this week relates how in 1973, President Nixon appointed Farr to a new 12-member commission called the Environmental Protection Agency.
"In his three-year appointment, Farr scolded cities such as Honolulu and New York for dumping sewage in the ocean, which would then wash up on beaches. He helped clean up the Great Lakes and fill them with fish after massive dumping by Midwest manufacturers," the article says.
"I don't know if I'd call myself an environmentalist," Farr said at that time. "But you have to take care of the environment."
He gave back so much to this industry. He was a director and founding member of the Colorado Cattle Feeders Association, and active National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) member, and a past president of the old American National Cattlemen's Association, a predecessor organization to NCBA. He was cited among BEEF magazine's "Top 40" in 2004 (see beefmagazine.com/mag/beef_beef_top_2/index.html).
But perhaps the most amazing thing this week was to hear the stories from all the industry leaders who described how they were helped or mentored in some way by Farr over the years. And he was a pretty good parent as well, helping to raise four sons, who are all leaders in their own right. A Greeley Tribune column even mentioned that three of the four sons had earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
Heroes, visionaries, and brilliant men are truly rare, and W.D. Farr fit all of those categories. Someone said this week that he was a man who wasn't afraid to plant trees for future generations. His legacy in the cattle business and in Northeastern Colorado will live on for quite some time.
For more on this amazing man's life, visit: