A familiar face recently rejoined USDA’s Indiana Farm Service Agency (FSA). ABGA member Julia Wickard is their new State Executive Director.
“Agriculture runs deep in my roots, and I am a proud fourth generation producer on our 176-year-old Hoosier homestead,” Julia said. “It is an honor, duty, and pleasure to live and take care of the land that was founded by my ancestors decades ago.”
Julia, who held the same position from 2009 to 2017, sees her role in the public policy arena as a caretaker of the agricultural sector.
“I have so much respect for the American farmer who works every day – sunup to sundown – to produce food, feed, fuel, and fiber for Americans and global consumers,” she explained. “During my professional career, I have always gravitated to public service positions.”
Before rejoining the Indiana FSA, she served in the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for more than five years. There, she led a team as the Assistant Commissioner and Agricultural Liaison.
But Julia said she missed “working 24/7/365” for American agriculture.
“As I live on our family farm that was homesteaded in 1846, I am reminded daily and am truly thankful to professionally serve agriculture every day and then to go home to it every night,” she added. “I enjoy agricultural policy, public and government affairs, and advocating for the greatest industry in America.”
Her new position allows her to do all of the above. When she’s not in the office, you will find Julia at Wickard Livestock, which is in eastern rural Hancock County about 30 minutes east of Indianapolis in Indiana.
There they have registered Boer Goats and raise registered Angus cattle. “The farm prides itself on quality animals that are going to be functional producing females for both the breeding and exhibition industries,” Julia said. “We have learned so much from breeders from across the country, and we are excited to take our operation to the next level.”
Wickard Livestock joined the ABGA six years ago, and Julia, her husband Chris, son Jacob and daughter Jordyn are all members.
“We knew there were choices for different organizations in the Boer goat industry, but after researching and talking to other ABGA members, we decided ABGA was the organization that worked best for our operation, our son’s herd, and our developing Boer goat operation,” she explained.
Their herd consists of fullblood traditional, dapple, and percentage does. Julia said they are focusing on color and quality for their herd, because they know diversity is important. They flushed their first donor doe in 2021 and have been happy with the outcome of this new foundational female’s offspring.
“We have learned a lot about the goat health, breeding, and general care over the years,” Julia said. “We feel with the foundation does we have, we are building our herd to satisfy customers from many different parts of the industry and country. Look for consignments from Wickard Livestock in upcoming sales later this year. We look forward to serving your needs in the future.”
Julia said her family has found their home for registrations with the ABGA.
“We are thankful to so many Indiana and Midwestern breeders for their support and assistance as we have grown our operation,” she explained. “Our farm Wickard Livestock is excited to be a part of the American Boer goat industry and to do our part in moving the Boer goat species forward in our great country.”
It's also something Julia and Chris are passing down to their kids.
Their daughter showed market lambs, beef cattle, and meat goats during her 4-H career. After graduating from high school in May 2021, Jordyn was elected as a full-time Indiana FFA State Officer. She will complete her term in June 2022.
In the fall, she will follow in her parents’ footsteps and attend Purdue University. Jordyn will major in agricultural communications.
While their son is utilizing his herd as his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) for Indiana and National FFA, he plans to attend Purdue as well and major in veterinary science and/or agribusiness management. If Jacob is not at school participating in FFA activities or varsity football, he is most likely in the barn caring for his goats and cattle.
“Our son Jacob started his goat herd to add diversity to our livestock operation and is the one I credit for bringing the goat into our farm logo,” Julia said. “Our farm has raised registered Angus cattle since 1946, and Boer goats were a natural addition to our beef cattle operation.”
When asked why agriculture is important to her, Julia quoted Thomas Jefferson: "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness."