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Bishop Farms

Meeting Demand for Homegrown Beef

In 2020, Bishop Farms’ business model adapted to accommodate consumer desires for farm fresh beef and supply chain disruptions created by COVID-19-related shutdowns.

The Leesburg, Indiana, family farm produces corn, soybeans and seed corn, raises cattle and operates a small trucking company. Until last year, beef production was a small part of the farm’s business.

“With the pandemic everybody all of a sudden wanted freezer beef,” Bob Bishop says. “After buying from us, our customers have told us those were the best steaks of their lives. Once they try our beef, they come back for more.”

A lot of people want beef fresh off the farm instead of from the store, says Bishop.

Normally, the Bishops feed out calves from their cow-calf operation to supply family, employees and a few neighbors or friends with meat. Last year, interest in their beef grew so much that, for the first time, they had to buy some feeder cattle to satisfy demand.

That demand remains strong, Bishop says. Several people have asked to make sure they are on the 2022 list for beef.

“I think there’s a movement within our country –for whatever reason, some people like to know where their food comes from,” he says.

“I don’t inject my cattle with any growth promoters of any kind, Bishop says. “The only time they are ever injected is if they are sick, and we have very little of that because we breed and raise them ourselves.”

Bishops’ marketing strategy is built on word-of-mouth. “Word just kind of spreads around,” he says.

Bishop Farms also give 4-H members a good deal on show calves and livestock feed as a way of giving back to the community.

For about 20 years, Bishop worked at the Indiana State Fair as manager of the cattle barn and chaired the Hoosier Beef Congress. He was also named Man of the Year in Kosciusko County in 2018, is active in the Kosciusko County Community Foundation, is chairman of the township advisory board and serves on the Grace College Board of Trustees.

“A few years ago, the president of Grace College was interested in my farming operation, and I convinced him to start an agricultural business school at the college. They did. As a farmer, I look at that as a seed I planted that then started to grow,” he says.

Bishop says he believes it is important to give back to your community.

“I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to the youth of Indiana, and our grandchildren are actively involved in 4-H in Hancock County,” he says.

Bishop Farms was founded in 1833 with one 80-acre tract that has never been farmed by anyone but the Bishop family.

Today, several family members are involved with the farm, including, Bob and his wife, Waneta, their daughter and son-in-law, Sonja and Randy Hesser, and grandson, Scott Hesser. Also integral to the operation are crop specialists Steven Hall, and his father, Jeff Hall, a longtime employee.

“I depend on Jeff, Steven and all employees to get everything done, Jeff has been with us since 1987,” says Bishop. “Sonja does our bookkeeping and Waneta does all of our running around.”

Other family members include Bob and Waneta’s son, Jim and his wife, Nicole, and grandchildren, Kevin, Owen, Claire, Everett, Brynne and Emory.

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