Quentin, Logan, Hayden, Kristin and Kinley Shieldknight
Faces of Cotton: Quentin Shieldknight
April 8, 2021
Quentin Shieldknight was in the worst shape of his life — or so he thought. “Man,” he said looking at one of his field hands while working in the grain bins, “There’s got to be something wrong here. I can’t breathe.”
Tomorrow I’m hitting the gym, he thought as he struggled to distract himself from the pain in his legs. He finds the auger plugged up at the bottom of the grain bin and he and his team begin kicking it and hitting it with a long rod trying to break up the clog. He starts panting, then panicking as he struggles to bring breath into his lungs. “Quentin, man, you got to get out of here,” the hands yelled at him. He slowly makes his way to his pickup holding his head in his hands, willing himself to calm down so he can breathe normally. He sits there for two hours. Something’s not right.
Shieldknight Land and Cattle: It’s a Family Affair
Quentin Shieldknight, a fourth-generation farmer, runs a family business planting corn and cotton while raising commercial and registered Red Angus cattle in Spearman, Texas. His dad, Fred, still shows up to work every day. “I’ve told him to go enjoy his grandkids and semi-retire,” Quentin said. “But he’s still boss and shows up every morning to run the show.”
His sister, Kelly Jack and her husband Ty are both heavily involved in the operation. Kelly is the accountant and office manager, while Ty handles maintenance and manages cattle. Quentin’s cousin, Colby, also works on the farm helping run the cattle side of the business, while aunt Marcia takes care of life insurance and generational succession planning.
His younger sister Clara developed the farm’s website and her husband, Chris, manages the farm’s security and information technology operations. They live and work in Borger, Texas, but have two boys, Cy, and Cal, who love coming to help at the farm, while simultaneously throwing dirt and calling coyotes.
Quentin went to Texas A&M University where he met his wife, Kristin. “Literally sat on the bus next to her on the way to ‘fish camp’ as incoming freshmen,” he added. They will be celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary this year and have three children: Kinley (14), Hayden (11) and Logan (8). Kristin is the director of innovation and technology for Spearman Independent School District, and their children are heavily involved in FFA, 4-H, athletics and, of course, the family farm.
April 9, 2021
After going to bed with a fever, Quentin gets up the next day to work cattle. However, he finally gives up at lunch and heads to the hospital. They run some tests and he lets the nurse know he can’t breathe. Pulse oxygen reading is questionable so they take an X-ray of his chest. It’s probably because I’ve been in a grain bin for two days, he thinks to himself, that’s why my lungs don’t sound right. After the X-ray, hospital staff decide to do a CT scan and tell Quentin to go home and keep his phone close — they’ll call in four to five hours when they get the results. They end up calling him 10 minutes later before he’s even left the hospital.
From Corn to Cotton
After earning his bachelor’s degree in agronomy and plant and soil science, Shieldknight became a certified crop adviser. He provided crop consulting in the Spearman area through a private company, an experience that enhanced his success in his own farming operation. Shieldknight Land and Cattle farms 10,000 acres and has 650 cows in the herd (not including calves and bulls).
Cotton is up in the rotation for this crop season, having planted mainly corn and milo last year. In May, Quentin and company planted 2,800 acres of irrigated cotton and about 3,000 acres of dryland. “We had our first circle of cotton in 2011, and it fared better than the corn did,” he said. “In preparation for this year, we are planting more cotton than corn hoping to make a decent crop.”
The Shieldknight farm engaged in conventional tillage practices until 2003. “I think my degree helped me bring some conservation practices back to the farm,” Shieldknight added. “When I came back, we started strip-tilling and we’re now a strip-till, minimum-till farm.” They also implemented cover crops into their operation in the last three years. “We’re still learning on that, but I think we’ll eventually get it figured out and reap the benefits,” he said.
Learning to apply cover crops in a low rainfall area has its challenges. So far, the Shieldknights have tried tillage radish, rapeseed, cow peas and winter peas. This summer, they’ll be planting some millet blends in combination with cow peas, working with Jeff Miller, owner of ForeFront Agronomy LLC. Since they planted corn and milo last year, they left the stalks up for cover this spring. “We’ve had fields blow out so many times and really don’t want that to happen this year,” he added. “I guess you could call us trashy cotton farmers.”
April 9, 2021
All of a sudden, everyone is in the emergency room lobby looking for him. A nurse grabbed his arm, saying, “Mr. Shieldknight, you need to go back to your room right now and I suggest you call your wife.” He lays down only to feel a huge needle immediately jabbed into his stomach. His primary care physician was driving in from out of town, battling 65 mile-per-hour winds to get to the hospital.
The emergency department attending physician walks into Quentin’s room. “You have blood clots in your lungs, Mr. Shieldknight,” he said. “They’re really bad — I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a set of lungs with this many clots in them, ever.”
All he could think of was, are you kidding me? And then it hit him. His uncle died from a blood clot in 2011. This is serious. The nurse places an oxygen mask over his face.
From Beef to Compost
Not only does Shieldknight run the family business, but last fall, he co-founded a gypsum and compost business with Caleb Patterson, serving Spearman, Perryton, and Gruver areas. He said they don’t really have an official business name, adding, “We’re the crap spreaders — that’s the nicest way to say it anyway.”
Summertime is also beef time. Shieldknight Land and Cattle sells beef from Spearman all the way down to south of Houston, making them a state-wide beef operation.
They project to sell 80 whole beefs this year — they also sell quarters and half-sides. “We’re blessed to be able to feed people,” Shieldknight added. “And it’s important that we do it the right way and help communities.”
To advance this effort, Shieldknight Land and Cattle will be opening beef stores where small towns have lost their grocers. They opened their first one in Shelby’s Bridge Gift & Thrift Shop in Sudan, Texas, this May. They are in talks with other small communities to help them bridge gaps in their meat supply as well.
April 9, 2021
While he’s trying to gather his composure, his aunt Marcia bursts into the room. Everyone is trying to talk to him, but she says, “Stop! I’m going to pray.” Everyone stops. And she prays, “Father God, please heal Quentin’s lungs, dissolve the clots, and be with the doctors and nurses as they care for him. Please heal him in Jesus’ name.” As a community pastor joins his aunt in prayer, the care team is calling an ambulance — though they wish it were a helicopter. “I have medivac insurance,” he tells them, giving a nurse his insurance card. The doctor calls the helicopter staff who say, “We can’t get there in this wind.” The doctor decides to send Quentin’s scans to the helicopter staff. They call back. “We’ll be there in 10 minutes.”
They transport him from Hansford Hospital to BSA Hospital in Amarillo, Texas. As he’s in flight, his labored breathing begins to ease to the point where he no longer needs the oxygen mask. A calm comes over him during the helicopter ride. I’m going to be OK, he says to himself. I’m going to be OK.
To this day, Quentin’s hematologist can’t believe he’s still alive. Every time, he walks into a follow-up appointment, the doctor says, “I’ve never seen that many clots in a set of lungs ever and the patient survive.”
Quentin has Factor V Leiden Thrombophilia, an inherited blood clotting disorder. He will be on blood thinners for the rest of his life. While farming is tough, staring death in the face can shift your perspective.
“How do you survive if you don’t have faith in the farming industry?” he asked. “I don’t know how you do it without faith. Besides 2011, I don’t know if it’s ever been this hard to just get going, get the crop in and stay motivated.
“But every day, I’m still breathing. Every day, I still have something to look forward to. I used to be in the worst mood every evening when I came home — made my family miserable. But lying in a hospital bed thinking that I was about to meet my Maker woke me up. This life is hard. It’s unfair. But the reward is just around the corner if we just keep going. It’s going to be a great year, one way or another.”
Top 10 Takeaways from FSA/RMA Call on ERP
The Southwest Council of Agribusiness met with a number of staff from USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency on Wednesday to address the many Emergency Relief Program-related questions agents are receiving.
Below are the key takeaways from the call.
- Phase 1 only includes producers who received an indemnity on their MPCI policy. Shallow losses and losses on endorsement policies (SCO, ECO, STAX, HIP, etc.) were not included in the pre-filled applications sent under Phase 1. Such cases will be addressed in Phase 2.
- The cause of loss listed on an insurance claim was not considered when applications were pre-filled for Phase 1. Therefore, the D2 drought for eight weeks requrement and the maps we previously reported are no longer relevant. There is no need for insurance agents to change the cause of loss on a previous claim to align with a covered loss under ERP. Producers need to simply certify that the production loss in question falls under a cause of loss listed for ERP (like excessive heat). Producers would be wise to note this covered cause of loss on their FSA-520. Please note this could also apply, for example, to hail losses that might also be attributed to “excessive moisture” and “related conditions”.
- The share portion (column 13) of the ERP application should be filled out according to the crop insurance policy. This was included on the application to reconcile differences between RMA and FSA share reporting. This is not a place to re-certify FSA shares.
- ERP is not designed to cover grazing losses under Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) and Annual Forage (AF). RMA was able to delineate PRF policies, and only include qualifying policies intended for haying and exclude grazing. RMA was unable to delineate the difference on AF policies. AF policies intended for forage or hay should be submitted to FSA. AF policies intended solely for grazing were covered under ELRP and should have received a LFP top-up payment and should not be reported under ERP. (Please note we are seeking further clarification on this).
- Socially disadvantaged, beginning, and veteran farmers and ranchers qualify for a 15% increase in their ERP payment — but their initial payment will still be subject to the 25% adjustment. For an entity to qualify for socially disadvantaged, beginning, or veteran status at least 50% of the interest must qualify under the intended category. Meaning a 50%/50% husband and wife joint venture can qualify as socially disadvantaged if they so certify. The form can be found here.
- Phase 1 will be paid at 75% of the calculated amount on the pre-filled application. The reduction is not incorporated into the calculation (column 11) on the pre-filled applications received by producers.
- Phase 1 currently only includes insurance claims that have a loss date from 1/1/2020 to 12/31/2021. If the loss date falls at the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2022 no pre-filled application will be received. FSA is currently looking into this issue regarding producers who had a cause of loss that started in late 2019 and continued into 2020 causing a prevent plant claim on a 2020 crop.
- Phase 2 is designed to be a catch all for any producer who is not covered in Phase 1. FSA does not currently have a date for the roll out of Phase 2. Phase 2 would cover scenarios including: shallow losses, losses on endorsements, no crop insurance purchased, and other producers not included in Phase 1.
- Entities can certify by Form 510 that 75% or more of their income comes from farming and receive a higher payment limit.
- Producers with an indemnity on a 2021 policy that had STAX, SCO, ECO, MP, or ARPI will not receive a pre-filled application until a later date when data is available. This will not be Phase 2 but a separate mailing under Phase 1 expected late summer.
We have been including the formula from the FSA/RMA fact sheets, but we agree it is confusing. Here is another way of stating it that we believe is clearer.
Estimated ERP Payment (Box 11) = Target Revenue minus (-) calculated revenue
Target revenue is the “Expected Value of the Crop” (APH x Price Guarantee) multiplied by the relevant “ERP factor”.
Calculated revenue is the sum of “Actual Value” (realized production x price) plus any “Crop Insurance Proceeds” (MPCI, SCO, ECO, STAX, etc.) less or minus “Producer Premiums and Administration Fees”.
The “Estimated ERP Payment” in Box 11 of the FSA Form 520 is the difference between this target revenue and calculated revenue.
USDA officials will continue to update ERP’s frequently asked questions website which can be found here.
The CS&A cheat sheet is also updated to take out the maps and deemphasize the importance of county designations. It can be accessed here.
Additionally, the previously shared packet from RMA can be accessed here.
-Information Provided by the Southwest Council of Agribusiness.
U.S. Cotton Consumption Increased
Results from the most recent economic evaluation of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program found strong, positive returns for cotton producers and importers as a result of the Program. The study shows that consumption of cotton products has increased by about 14 percent thanks to the program. That is approximately 2.47 million bales more annually. The full report is available here.
In the News
Farm Bill Field Hearing Scheduled in Arkansas – The Senate Agriculture Committee has scheduled its second farm bill field hearing in the home state of the committee’s top Republican, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.). The hearing will be held on June 16 in Jonesboro, Arkansas and will be livestreamed here.
USDA Announces Signup for the Commodity Container Assistance Program – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA will begin accepting applications for the Commodity Container Assistance Program (CCAP). USDA’s Farm Service Agency will make payments to eligible owners or designated marketing agents of U.S. agricultural commodities based on the number of eligible shipping containers utilized from March 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022, from the Port of Oakland or the Northwest Seaport Alliance to ship agricultural commodities to their designated markets on container ships. Eligible commodities include agricultural commodities (other than tobacco) which are grown or produced in the United States for food, feed, or fiber, and products made from those commodities, including certain forestry products. Read more here.
Chinese Interest in U.S. Ag Assets Could Pose Security Risks, Federal Report Says –A report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission warns China could gain further leverage over U.S. supply chains by purchasing agribusinesses and land in the United States, reduce U.S. competitiveness by stealing intellectual property, and create bioweapons using DNA from genetically modified American crops. Read more here.
New Heat Unit Calculator Available
An all-inclusive heat unit calculator has been brought back to the High Plains. “We’ve felt the absence of this tool for the last few years, and are excited that it has been brought back,” said Kody Bessent, PCG CEO. “It’s a unique tool that will be valuable as we move into the fall.”
To view the heat unit calculator, please visit: