Missouri Ruralist logo

Responsibilities may have changed over the years, but one cattle producer finds a way to balance being a woman in agriculture.

March 28, 2023

4 Min Read
DeEtta Murphy looks over a set of beef cows at her farm
NO LIMITS: DeEtta Murphy looks over a set of beef cows at her farm. The third-generation female farmer credits good family role models for instilling in her a passion for the agriculture industry.Photos courtesy of DeEtta Murphy

by Olivia Loges

USDA farm statistics show 56% of all farms have at least one female decision-maker. DeEtta Murphy is one of those women.

Her passion for the agriculture industry runs deep, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, who also worked on the farm full time driving tractors and doing whatever was needed in the Saline County, Mo., operation. DeEtta grew up seeing industrious women on the farm as the norm.

“Being a woman in agriculture is a very natural thing for me,” DeEtta says. “I never thought of doing it any other way.”

Growing up on the farm in central Missouri, she showed steers through 4-H and FFA, and learned the ins and outs of her family’s row crop operation. Fast-forward a handful of years — a lady never tells her age, after all — and now she operates Murphy Cattle Co. alongside her husband, Brent Murphy, and their two sons, Cole and Ty.

Michael and DeEtta Viets showing steers

Balancing being a full-time mom, wife and career professional while also helping run the farm operation, overseeing the finances and managing a livestock show schedule — along with a spring baseball schedule — can be a juggling act at times. And while it may seem like a lot, DeEtta still enjoys the everyday tasks like coming home after work to help AI cows, walk pigs or fill feed buckets. She says she has the best of both worlds.

After marriage, Brent and DeEtta established Murphy Cattle Co. in 1997 and started buying cattle to build their own cow herd. Over the years, through smart purchases and money saving, the couple was able to buy a farm in DeEtta’s hometown.

Still residing on that farm today, they operate a 250-cow herd of registered Angus, Simmental and crossbred club calf cows.

DeEtta says her favorite thing about their operation is getting to do it as a family. Raising their kids on the farm — whether working show goats, attending track meets or practicing a set of reasons while checking cows in the Kubota — keeps the Murphys close-knit, no matter what project they are tackling. Instilling values such as honesty and hard work in her children, just like her parents and grandparents did in her, is an important part of these interactions.

DeEtta, Brent, Cole and Ty Murphy with grand champion market goat at the Missouri State Fair

As a mom, a wife and a woman in agriculture, DeEtta proudly says, “I need to and can be very involved in the operation,” but adds, “having an off-the-farm career is extremely important to me.”

DeEtta serves local farmers as a customer service team leader with FCS Financial. She credits part of her successful 20-year tenure with the company to living and working on a farm. Being able to understand what this livelihood is about makes it easier to connect to those farmers she works with.

Finding time to give back

DeEtta and her husband encourage their sons to be a part of 4-H, FFA and livestock showing. She knows firsthand the importance of these experiences and the life lessons they teach.

Volunteering and being involved in different youth organizations, DeEtta supports the next generation and provides value for them, just as previous generations did for her. Whether it be helping select scholarship and award winners, assisting with the county fair youth premium auction, or serving on the Youth in Ag Committee for the Missouri State Fair, DeEtta says, “Anything dealing with youth in agriculture is important to me.”

young girl poses at halter of steer with group of people behind them

DeEtta continues to invest time in youth and the ag industry, all while building a farming operation that she hopes will make her family proud for generations to come.

Loges writes from Higginsville, Mo.

Read more about:

Women In Agriculture
Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like