Fueling Conservation — Clay Farms
A Legacy of Conservation on Clay Farms
In #AgriReady Moniteau County near Jamestown, Andy Clay stays busy during a hot, dry Missouri summer constantly refueling center pivots that water his traditional corn and soybean crops. Andy adds value to those trips by making stops around the farm to plant food plots, set up hunting blinds, and check game cameras in preparation for a successful fall hunting season.
Andy and Kacey Clay manage the daily operations of Clay Farms in partnership with Andy’s parents, John and DaLana Clay. The diversified farm grows row crops and utilizes cover crops to protect their soil in the off-season. They maintain a commercial cow-calf herd and market their animals at the local sale barn. The Clays do custom dirt-work - building drainage solutions such as terraces and ponds - and they board retired racing horses.
Andy developed his own love of hunting and the outdoors through countless hunting memories with his grandfather and father. He has taken that love to the next level by building it into the farm’s sustainability plan. Each fall Andy hosts deer hunters on Clay Farms through his outfitting business to utilize and maintain a healthy deer population. He works hard to best manage the deer population on his farm, but grants that Mother Nature always has the last say. Repeat customers keep the outfitting business healthy and the outfitting business keeps the farm healthy by diversifying the farm income. Diversification is something the Clay family has long valued.
“As a kid, I was told over and over and over not to count on just one crop and that diversification is the key to surviving as a farmer,” Andy said.
Hunting is not the first or only conservation effort on Clay Farms. The Clays protect natural resources, believing that native habitats and traditional farming can complement each other. Field edges can be hard to access with large equipment and the ground there can be less fertile, so the Clays have developed quail habitat or enrolled those areas in programs to sustain the monarch butterfly. Generations of Clays have managed their family farm with conservation in mind; Clay Farms was honored in 2021 as a Bicentennial Farm. This heritage and long-term perspective guide farm decisions today.
“It is important to me to protect what we have for our next generation,” Andy said.
When they are not running the farm and its diversified businesses, Andy and Kacey and their three kids all love to hunt Missouri wildlife. They enjoy their harvested game and donate to local families in need. The Clays are members of Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Soybean Association, and Missouri Farm Bureau where Andy is currently serving as a member of the State Board of Directors. All these organizations are partners of Missouri Farmers Care.