Meet Cheryl Foster, President of California CattleWomen

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Cheryl Foster is the President of the California CattleWomen and a sixth generation rancher. Her operation ranch house is in Siskiyou County, about seven miles from the Oregon border. It’s a cow-calf operation on deeded ground, as well as forest service leased ground.

“It all started back in 1871, with a livery stable in Yreka, and then when that burned down, my family went out and bought the ranch land. My grandfather, John Foster is the one who really expanded the ranch,” Foster said.

The cattle breed on the ranch is predominantly Hereford and Red Angus cross. “That cross helps a lot with the fertility and longevity of the cow,” Foster said. “It’s Northern California and pretty tough country, with hillsides and lots of rocks. You put cattle where you can’t have row crops, so it’s rough!”

Foster’s husband is a CPA; she runs the cattle operation with her brother. “My brother is responsible for equipment, and I’m responsible for the cattle and the irrigating our 450 acres of hay, so we have it divvied up well,” she said.

Foster focuses on the primary tasks of California CattleWomen. “We are trying to get the women to be engaged with the truth about the industry and keep pushing, because it’s a very, very important industry,” she said.

“We get out and tell a positive story, because I think sometimes we are afraid of what to say to counteract when people come in with wrong information. So, real important to get good information out and get the ladies confident to get out and say that we are doing a good thing for the land,” Foster noted.

Foster explained the traditional roles of the men and the women in the California cattle industry. “The men’s organization has been going for a 100 years and the women have been going for 65 years,” she said.

“Initially, the men and their organization were more on the production, and the genetics of the herd. The women started being the beef promoters, to get out there and say, ‘It’s not just about the production. People need to eat our product,’ ” Foster explained.

The CattleWomen are out and about wherever they can spread the positive word on the beef industry. They go to fairs and trade shows and participate in the California Agriculture in the Classroom, where they engage in K-12 audiences and improve agricultural literacy.