Ronald F. Eustice became the owner of his first bovine at the age of 15 months when his parents purchased a Brown Swiss heifer by cashing in a savings bond that his great-grandfather had given him. Since then, Ron’s interest in the cattle business and his commitment to agriculture have never wavered. Whether on the family farm in Steele County, in the jungles of Java, the mountains of Mexico or the pampas of Paysandu, he has never missed an opportunity to be an ambassador for US agriculture and to serve as a credible spokesman for the beef and dairy industries.
Like many of us, Ron was not born into wealth or fame. He learned at an early age that the road to success is paved by hard work, perseverance, strong personal relationships and an occasional stroke of good luck. He also learned that there are a few cobblestones and an occasional detour along life’s journey. He has been blessed by the strong support from his loving wife of 25 years, Margaret McAndrews.
Ron and Margaret have 3 children, Kevin and AnnMarie. Kevin works at Google. He is married to Alison Walker and has a daughter Sabine. AnnMarie is a buyer for Target Corporation in Minneapolis.
Born at Waseca, Minnesota, Ron was the oldest of four children of Donald & Alice Mae (Perron) Eustice. He grew up in Deerfield Township, Steele County, attended a one-room country school through 8th grade and graduated from Owatonna High School. Early involvement in 4-H activities helped create a continuing interest in livestock. He participated in dairy, swine, lamb and junior leadership projects during his 4-H career. Newly arrived Steele County Extension Educator Larry Tande helped keep Ron on the right track in those formative years. In high school, he participated in FFA and was a member of the Minnesota State Fair Champion Dairy Judging team. That taste of victory was an incentive to continue participation in judging activities. Later, under the guidance of Dr. Garth Miller, Ron was a member of a national champion intercollegiate dairy cattle judging team and placed 8th at the national contest in Waterloo, IA. Fellow judging team members, Floyd Marti and Dave Pierson made sure that Ron placed the classes right and that his reasons were on target. That same year, when Dr. Chuck Christians was short of judges for his first University of Minnesota’s General Livestock Judging Team, Ron answered the call. That hastily put together team placed a respectable 8th at the National Western Livestock Show.
It was during Ron’s years at the University of Minnesota that he took an interest in Red & White Holsteins. He began to purchase a few well-bred Red & White calves from respected Minnesota herds including Apple Acres and Orbit Farms and from other prominent herds in the US and Canada. Several of these animals including Color Crest Miss Scarlet (bred by Wayne & Harriet Brown) had a major impact on the Red & White Holstein breed. Color Crest Miss Scarlet was Reserve Champion at the first National Red & White Show held at the World Dairy Expo and topped the national sale. Ron served on the board of directors of the Red & White Dairy Cattle Association for several years and managed the First National Red & White Sale in 1970. In the 1970’s Ron and Margaret developed a high quality herd of purebred Simmental cattle in California.
Following graduation from the University of Minnesota, Ron’s love of cattle and interest in geography and history quickly steered him toward a career in international marketing. He has represented US agricultural companies and cooperatives in over 80 countries. His ability to quickly learn and speak foreign languages has made him a valuable asset to his employers and created unique to opportunities to develop long lasting friendships throughout the world. Ron is fluent in Spanish, German and Indonesian and can communicate effectively in French, Italian and Portuguese.
Ron’s first overseas experience was as an International 4-H Youth Exchange (IFYE) delegate to Uruguay, South America. He continues to stay in contact with some of his Uruguayan host families more than 30 years later. The Carnation Company soon became aware of his talents and offered him employment as AI Product Manager for Carnation de Mexico. For two years, he trained Mexican cattlemen and veterinarians in artificial insemination and cattle genetics programs from Chiapas to Coahuila. Ron spent a total of 7 years with Carnation serving in various management capacities in Wisconsin and California as well as Mexico. He joined American Breeders Service in 1977 and made a significant contribution to ABS’s worldwide marketing efforts. He was a frequent speaker and lecturer at international cattle functions in Europe and Latin America including the Osnabruecker Schwarzbunttage on about a half dozen occasions. Ron helped ABS win the Department of Commerce’s coveted “E Award” for excellence in exporting.
In 1981, Ron and Margaret brought their family back to Minnesota when he became Executive Secretary of the Minnesota Holstein Association. While at Minnesota Holstein Association, he initiated a highly successful private treaty sales service called “Marketplace” and selected cattle for some of Minnesota’s most successful state sales. Minnesota Holstein Association membership increased significantly.
In 1983, Ron joined Land 0’Lakes where he spent six years in international marketing activities. The highlight of his career at Land 0’ Lakes was a three year assignment in Indonesia where he provided training to extension staff and farmers involved in a 12,000 head Holstein dairy project. In January 1987, Ron and Margaret packed up their belongings in 22 suitcases and took their three young children on the experience of their lives in the jungles of Java. At that time, this project located at Salatiga, Central Java, was one of the world’s largest dairy farms.
Since 1990, Ron has been executive director of the Minnesota Beef Council. Under his leadership the Minnesota Beef Council has become a model for commodity promotion programs. Here are just a few of the success stories: