Photo by Savannah Magoteaux.……

As a proud fifth generation cow-calf producer, Kelli Payne is no stranger to the world of agriculture. She took advantage of opportunities in high school and college to travel and experience different facets of the agriculture industry. Internships in Ohio and Montana allowed Kelli to see firsthand the differences in agriculture in other parts of the country before receiving her Animal Science degree from Oklahoma State University later in life. 

She spent a lot of time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards when she was younger, but never imagined she’d be in the position she holds today. She says, “The history here, coupled with the sheer size and volume of the facility, is just amazing. To be able to continue the legacy is very humbling and a position I do not take lightly.”

With such an iconic fixture in OKC, it’s important to maintain the historical integrity of the area, but adapt to changing dynamics and markets. Kelli explains, “Prior to the pandemic, approximately 200,000 ‘tourists’ visited the Stockyards, so we want to be able to continue to tell our unique story but remain one of the best places in the world to market your cattle. We are the last of the original ‘terminal’ markets left that is still a true working yard. We sold over 452,000 head through here in 2021, and we look forward to continuing that tradition as well!”

“If we have learned anything in the last two years, it is to stay positive. Ag folks are resilient people by nature, but sometimes we need to take some time and recharge. Be aware of your mental state, and never hesitate to ask for help. We are all in this together, and there aren’t just a whole lot of us in this industry! Take care of yourselves, and each other!”