Young North Iowa Farmers Take Beef Herd to New Heights
Laura and Aaron Cunningham have been taking care of calves and helping with chores since they were young. The two grew up just five miles apart, but it wasn’t until their senior year of high school that they met in an ag class.
With sights set on careers in agriculture, Aaron set off for North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) for a two-year degree in Ag Operations Management while Laura attended Iowa State University and majored in Agricultural Business. The couple married in 2010 and established SkyView Farms Inc.
“One of the most common questions we’re asked is, ‘Where did you name SkyView Farms?’ Our farm name stems from Aaron’s love of flying,” says Laura. “When he’s not caring for the crops or feeding cattle, you’ll find Aaron in the clouds. We look forward to jetting out on new adventures.”
The Cunninghams care for a herd of Angus cow/calves and also feed out all the calves born on the farm each year. They began direct marketing their beef to end users and through local food hubs about seven years ago because it allows them to focus on producing a high-quality product to consumers who appreciate locally produced beef.
Laura had already booked locker appointments before the COVID-19 pandemic closed packing plants and created more demand than local lockers can handle. Her phone was ringing off the hook in March and April, so Laura helped connect consumers with fellow beef producers. She also helped producers who had been interested in direct sales understand what steps to take.
In addition to the SkyView Farms beef enterprise, the couple raises corn, soybeans, rye and alfalfa. They operate a custom application business, and a custom forage chopping and grain harvesting business. Laura also serves as marketing director for Latham Hi-Tech Seeds where she started as a college marketing intern and has continued to accept new responsibilities for more than a decade.
Laura shares her love of agriculture by advocating online at SkyView Farms on Facebook and @SkyViewBeef on Twitter. She enjoys any opportunity to share agriculture in the classroom through virtual spring farm tours during calving season, or visiting STEM classrooms to talk about careers and technology in agriculture.
Recently, Aaron and Laura made a very special announcement that their “herd is expanding.” We couldn’t be more excited for them. The Latham Team looks forward to hosting a baby shower where we’ll celebrate the special occasion with beef, of course!
There’s a cut of beef to celebrate every occasion and every day of the week! It’s no surprise the Cunningham’s favorite recipes feature beef. It’s been a rainy week across the Upper Midwest, so Laura is sharing a fool-proof recipe for Beef Stew. She likes this recipe because it uses staple ingredients most people already would have on hand be it frozen, canned or fresh they will all work. It’s also a great way to bring out the flavor in some of the lower-priced cuts in your quarter beef.
- 1 lb. Stew meat, a roast or ground hamburger (whatever is on hand)
- Three large potatoes
- 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn)
- 1 can of petite diced tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp Chopped Onion
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 16 oz. beef broth
Cook on low in the crock pot for four hours, or cook all together on the stove until the beef is cooked through and potatoes are soft (approx.. 30 min on medium heat.)