Zachary Yanta – Runge, Texas
Meet this month’s featured Texas beef producer, Zachary Yanta, from Runge. This small town about half-way between San Antonio and the Texas Gulf Coast is home base for the approximate 11,000-acre ranch and farm that sprawls across eight Texas counties. Here, Yanta runs about 1000 head of cattle and produces other agricultural commodities including cotton, corn, grain sorghum, turfgrass and pecans.
It’s a true family business, with each member doing their share, in some way, to constantly improve the quality and productivity of their ranch and farm. Yanta manages overall operations, and in the early days, his wife Linda of 40 years worked at Runge ISD in order for the family to have access to health insurance. Today, his son, Zach II, provides extensive help with the day-to-day details of running the business and is being transitioned into more of a leadership role. Yanta mentions that he hopes to slow down and have more time to spend in the near future with his daughter, Yvonne, and grandchildren who live four hours away.
No one will argue that agriculture work is easy of for those who “aren’t willing to work however long it takes to get the task done.” But Yanta mentions there have been many rewards reaped over the years, including “working with family, seeing our children learning the value of a strong work ethic and watching our operation grow and succeed despite many obstacles we encountered over the years. Knowing that we help feed and clothe people with wholesome, safe and affordable food is very gratifying. We are always looking for a better way to produce our products, not willing to be satisfied with the status quo.”
Another factor that Yanta appreciates about working in the agricultural community is that most producers still “Ride for the Brand.” Meaning “they are proud to honor their word with a handshake in these days of corporate business contracts,” explains. Yanta.
Read on to find out more about Zach Yanta, an interesting guy who also likes to hunt, fish and stay up-to-date on the latest agricultural research and scientific findings (like space!):
Interesting Fact: I have fifth generation Polish-Czech heritage. We are twelve miles from Panna Maria, Texas, the oldest Polish settlement in the United States (1854). My family came here in 1855 from Silesia, Poland. Many locals still speak Polish. My Dad spoke it and Mother spoke Czech.
Education: BS in Agronomy, 1980, TAMU and Master in Agriculture (Crops), 1983, TAMU
Hardest Aspect of Agriculture Life: Dealing with persistent, extended droughts that are periodically interrupted by heavy rains! Another great difficulty is dealing with market volatility.
Funniest Ranch Life Story: When I was very young, my family raised about 700 hogs in pens not far from our house. My older brother and I played barefoot in the hog pens daily in the summertime. One day, he dared me to hold onto a pig tail and “ski” in the sandy pen. I grabbed a large hog’s tail and began skiing…until I got clotheslined by a water pipe suspended at my head level that dumped water into the hog wallow! That ended my hog skiing adventures after that.
Favorite Cuts: T-bone and Strip steak
Favorite Recipe: Grilled steak with Perini Steak Rub
Favorite Method: Mesquite Wood Charcoals
Favorite Burger Place: Zack’s back patio while hunting doves in the fall!