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Women in Agriculture

By: Nicole Schrock, Miss Rodeo Oregon

Growing up, agriculture and farming had a huge influence on me. Farming was a family affair. Both my parents came from farming families, so that lifestyle was the only one I knew. Being the daughter of farmers taught me to have a lot of respect for the land and our way of life. As I grew older, I had no desire to leave that way of life, and I chose to pursue a higher education in a field that would keep me close to the agriculture lifestyle that I had grown up loving.

During my travels as Miss Rodeo Oregon, one of the organizations I worked with was my local Oregon Women for Agriculture chapter. I have so much respect for these women, not only because of their involvement on their own farms, but for their passion for agriculture and their willingness to take extra time out of their schedules to promote that way of life to the public. They support other women in agriculture through fundraisers and scholarships for youth, and they work to educate through public events such as fairs and ag day celebrations. Women for Ag and Miss Rodeo Oregon walked parallel paths and so it was an honor and pleasure when I got to work side by side with them — working toward a common goal of promoting agriculture in our area.

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Another thing that I noticed in my travels as Miss Rodeo Oregon is the common misconception among the general public that farming and ranching are all-male vocations. Growing up on a farm, I know firsthand that farming is not just for men and boys. In our house, everyone had a role to play. Whether it was in the office or the field, everyone contributed to the success of the harvest — man or woman, adult or child, we all helped out.

As a woman in agriculture, I think the most challenging obstacle to overcome is stereotyping from outside people. Because agriculture is generally viewed as a male-dominated industry, I’ve found that women often have to work harder than their male counterparts to prove their worth and knowledge in the industry. But women are slowly making their presence known, and I look forward to a future where women and men are recognized equally as they work toward promoting and making innovative leaps in techniques, practices and technology for the industry.

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I love being a woman in agriculture… getting to work outside and admire nature’s beauty while giving back to my community. On my family’s farm, summer is the busiest time of year — the same time that rodeo season hits full swing in the Northwest. So, like clockwork every year, I find myself dividing my time between the two loves of my life… and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Whether I am driving my Massey Ferguson tractor in the fields or galloping my horse in the rodeo arena — you can bet I’ll have a smile on my face!

The Massey Ferguson 4610 Low-Profile Tractor

Savdeep Sran was so impressed with the new MF4610LP utility tractor from Massey Ferguson that he bought eight of them. Used in the almond and pistachio operation Sran owns with his father and brother, the rugged, low-profile machines were purchased to replace several John Deere tractors.



According to Sran, the family had always run Deere in the past, but after experiencing a few frustrating problems, they decided it was time for a change at their Diamond West Farming Co. in Kerman, Calif. “One of the things we liked about the 4610LP was the simpler Tier 4i emissions control system,” he says.

“Some of the other brands have a lot more that can go wrong. The 4610LP meets emissions standards without a diesel particulate filter that has to be regenerated, and without the need for extra maintenance. We also considered the reputation for service from Quinn Company, which is the Massey Ferguson dealer in our area.

“We’ve had no complaints at all with the tractors,” Sran continues. “They’re pretty fuel efficient, have good lift capacity and are easy to operate.”

Based on the extremely popular MF4600 Series utility tractors, the MF4610LP features several unique alterations to help it achieve a lower overall profile. Among them is a new ROPS design with a lower folding point, which permits an overall tractor height of 69.8 inches when folded. New, smaller tire offerings also reduce the overall height of the tractor.

“Other unique features include steel rear fenders that hug the tires so branches and vegetation slide past without damage to trees … or the tires,” says Warren Morris, AGCO advanced product marketing manager for under-150-HP tractors. “The 4610LP also features a horizontal exhaust that emits to the side of the tractor and away from the operator. The controls for the PTO, hydraulic remotes and 3-point hitch have been relocated just below the fender to the right of the operator’s seat, still within easy reach, while reducing the overall height of the tractor.”

Available in a 4WD ROPS configuration only, the MF4610LP is rated at 99 engine HP and 80 PTO HP, which is the same as the standard MF4610. It also features the same 3.3-liter, 3-cylinder diesel engine and 12×12 power shuttle transmission with an optional creeper.

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Dairyman’s Digest

It’s tough being a pioneer, but John Fiscalini comes from a long line of them. Scale his family tree, and you’ll find innovation in the Fiscalini DNA going back centuries.

The dairy business is the taproot of that family tree. But the mountains around the Fiscalinis’ ancestral Swiss homeland—the tiny town of Lionza—often made the transport of fresh milk treacherous or impossible, particularly during the harsh winters. So the family turned to cheesemaking as more than added value; it was a way to avoid wasting the work of the family dairy.

“I have milk in my blood,” says John, who with son Brian runs the 1,500-cow Fiscalini Farms at Modesto, Calif., in the San Joaquin Valley. “Going generations back, it’s all dairy, dairy, dairy.” Still, John didn’t bring cheese back into the family business until the turn of the 21st century, this time less as necessity than as craft. At the suggestion of the California Milk Advisory Board, John began attending farmstead cheesemaking seminars and “got roped into the sexiness of it,” he says.

The execution was less than sexy. Cheesemaking was new to California, so even finding the equipment proved a challenge, as did finding the right cheesemaker, an essential partner in the process. But John had the dairy part down pat. Attention to cleanliness and comfort of his cows give John’s renowned cheesemaker, Mariano Gonzales, a blank canvas to “work magic,” as John puts it.

“The milk that John produces—it’s very, very clean,” says Gonzales. “There is nothing in there to interfere with the bacteria I use to create the cheese.” After a dozen years working with that clean milk—the blank canvas—the awards have piled up. Fiscalini’s cloth-bound cheddar has won best cheddar in the world twice at the World Cheese Awards in London—very rare for an American cheesemaker. The dairy’s signature San Joaquin Gold, a smoky, Italian-style cheese aged 16 months, took gold at the World Cheese Awards as well.

Keeping It Genuine

To run their award-winning and innovative dairy, the Fiscalinis rely heavily on their tractors. “Well, we don’t baby these things,” John says of his Massey Ferguson® equipment—all utility tractors in the 80- to 90-hp range. From the newest, the MF491, to the vintage MF285, these are tractors already known for longevity and durability; but John and his dealer Rick Gray from Stanislaus Implement and Hardware still offer tips to keeping hard-working equipment up and running:

Genuine AGCO Parts. “Our guys [at the dairy] do a lot of the maintenance and service, but if something breaks down, we don’t want to put an aftermarket part on there or something that’s gonna be defective or not the high quality we expect from AGCO,” says John.
Good relationship with the dealer. “I’ve known John and his family for more than 30 years,” says Rick. “He is more than a customer. He is part of the family.”
John says the relationship with Stanislaus Implement is generational. “Rick’s father took care of my father,” he says. “They take care of you. The value of these tractors is the support behind them, end of conversation.”

Read the full story, watch the video about the Fiscalini’s digester, access recipes from Fiscalini Farms, and more at

Biltmore: Ritzy Home, Real Farm

Biltmore offers what is arguably the finest view of 19th-century American grandeur. The crowning achievement of George W. Vanderbilt—a grandson of 19th-century railroad and shipping magnate Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt—the French Renaissance chateau-style mansion was completed in 1895 just outside Asheville, N.C. It is the largest privately owned home in the U.S. and annually attracts more than 1 million visitors.

A growing number of those visitors, however, come to experience Biltmore’s farming operations. The estate’s winery is the most visited in the U.S., while a demonstration farm pays homage to Biltmore’s past, when the property, which was originally 125,000 acres, was self-sustaining.

Kevin Payne, Biltmore’s farm manager, is on the cover of the Winter issue of the Massey Ferguson customer magazine, FarmLife.

Kevin Payne, Biltmore’s farm manager, is on the cover of the Winter issue of the Massey Ferguson customer magazine, FarmLife.

What’s not as well known is that Biltmore, which today encompasses 8,000 acres, is home to a variety of other farming enterprises, including cattle and sheep operations totaling some 1,500 animals. Though most of the estate’s acres are forested, crops such as corn, soybeans, canola, sunflowers and sudangrass are grown in any given year.

This is the realm overseen by Kevin Payne, Biltmore’s farm manager, who has worked on the property for 35 years. He understands the need to work the farm—but do it knowing that tens of thousands of paying guests are watching.

This attention to visual detail, though, doesn’t shortchange their efforts to farm with an eye toward a cutting-edge, sustainable ethos. For example, this spring and summer, 50 acres along hiking and biking trails were planted to canola, then sunflower crops. No doubt the bright yellow blooms of both were a treat for guests.

The plantings, though, were not all for show. The canola is processed on the farm (in a renovated 100-plus-year-old barn) into biodiesel used to fuel the businesses’ pickups and farm equipment. Livestock raised on the grounds—including some 700 head of Angus cattle and 800 White Dorper sheep—are used in the estate’s highly regarded restaurants.

Payne and his wife, Becky, have had the privilege of living on the estate for nearly 30 years. Their 100-year-old house is tucked just off a hilly road near the barn where livestock feed is stored. Becky homeschooled their three sons here, while their dad would have the boys measure out feed as part of their math lessons.

“It’s not so much work as it is a lifestyle to us,” says Payne. “The boys grew up here, staying in the woods all day.” One son, Carson, now works full time with Kevin—and lives on the property as well. “He’s never really left Biltmore,” says Payne. “We’ve been blessed.” Millions of visitors here would be inclined to agree.

Guess which brand of tractor is used to help care for this national treasure. Read why Massey Ferguson gets the nod at You can also see the entire Winter issue of FarmLife by browsing the digital edition at

Tough-As-Nails Paint

Bill Seto, owner of Suwannee Equipment in Live Oak, Fla., will be one of the first to admit that abundant sunshine might be good for Florida tourism, but it’s hard on paint. Equipment, he says, “starts fading the minute you park it outside.”

AGCO has built a new $40 million, 200,000-square-foot paint facility at its plant in Hesston, Kan.

AGCO has built a new $40 million, 200,000-square-foot paint facility at its plant in Hesston, Kan.

Paint damage effects appearance, performance and equipment value. Now AGCO has built a new $40 million, 200,000-square-foot paint facility at its plant in Hesston, Kan.

The new E-coat and powder paint system is the first of its kind for the farm equipment manufacturing industry, and will improve performance and longevity for the full offering of equipment manufactured at Hesston.

Nearly 75% of components go through the 17-step E-coat process by passing through 15 different dip tanks to remove all rust, scale and laser oxides. The remaining 25% of parts are painted using a liquid coating system.

The process takes approximately 41/2 hours and results in a finish with increased resistance to corrosion, ultraviolet light and weathering. The new system is efficient and more environmentally friendly than older paint processes also, reducing VOCs (volatile organic compounds) by approximately 75% and recovering nearly all the paint that doesn’t transfer to the component.

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