Success Stories Margarita Munoz Making a Difference in Agriculture
Margarita Munoz Making a Difference in Agriculture
Margarita Munoz currently owns and farms 700 acres of her own, and partners with a neighbor to farm an additional 100 acres. When Margarita was 18 years old, she left Mexico and moved to the United States. She started farming 11 years ago, after retiring from Mercury Marine Manufacturing Company. After retiring she worked on a dairy, and ran a farming operation on her first farm.
Margarita is part of a growing trend to the changing faces of agriculture producers. In Oklahoma there is a steady trend of more women managing and running farming operations. Women have always been a part of farming operations, but a national trend shows that more and more women are becoming the primary decision makers in farming operations.
When she bought her first farm, it was covered with cedar trees. She said, "I wore out two chain saws trying to cut them all down". Cutting the trees by hand wasn't getting her anywhere, so she had to hire a tree cutter who used special equipment. She started improving her grazing lands by sprigging Bermuda grass a little bit each year. Upon hearing about cost share assistance through the government, Margarita contacted the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office to find out more about the programs.
After qualifying for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), Margarita entered into a contract with the NRCS office in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The contract included grass planting, a grade stabilization structure, a pond, riparian fencing, and a filter strip. Margarita related, "The NRCS has been very helpful to work with. They really try to understand what you want to do on the farm and they stand behind you and encourage you. It has been good to work the NRCS people in the Stillwater Office".
Margarita operates three different farms and partners with a neighbor on another one for baling hay. She gets one farm the way she likes it and buys another one and starts all over. She also does some custom haying. She grows some wheat for haying, and her son bales it for her each year. Cattle are the center of Margarita's operation. She runs 150-head of mixed breed cattle, and she stated she would like to expand the numbers a little more in the future. The cattle are her primary source of income, but she also uses them to manage her forage production for optimum benefits.
She works with the NRCS to improve her forage production through proper grazing management that includes rotational grazing and developing a water supply. She utilizes a combination of improved pastures and native grass pastures for her livestock. The conservation plan she developed with the help of NRCS is working well, and she stated it has proven to be a valuable tool for her.
After completing her first EQIP in 2006, Margarita applied for and qualified for a second contract on another farm. She has already completed over two miles of cross fencing with plans to complete 136 acres of eastern red cedar control, grass planting, and water facilities with pipelines. Her aggressive approach to land improvement continues to make her a champion in the conservation arena.
Margarita said, "I planted pecan trees 13 years ago and I was told it would take 25 years to have a pecan orchard and I wouldn't be around to see it. I replied, I wasn't going anywhere, and the trees started producing some pecans in the tenth year".
One of Margarita's next projects she wants to undertake is to have a large vegetable garden with an irrigation system. She stated, "I would love to raise my own vegetables and market them locally, but that is something I will plan for in the near future when I get some other things completed".
She still works part-time at an equipment manufacturing company in Perkins, Oklahoma. She enjoys this job because they build farm equipment. During the winter months, Margarita says she enjoys walking every acre of her property and clipping all of the cedar seedlings she encounters. She enjoys taking care of the land, and is constantly thinking of ways to improve it.
Written by Jasper T. Parker, Public Affairs Specialist, 10-30-07