As the sole managing partner of Goodknight Farms, Cody Goodknight actively supports the local ag industry while striving to produce quality crops and cattle his customers know to trust.
“When I was a little kid, I wanted to stay on the farm and help my dad,” he said. Goodknight found himself “watching Dad plant a crop, watch it grow and turn into a harvest several months later. And on the cattle ranching side, seeing a calf being born and raising it into something that will feed multiple people,” he said.
With his lifelong farming experience, the education he received through Chattanooga, and its FFA chapter as well as his time at Oklahoma State University, Goodknight manages the farm's day-to-day production of certified and registered seed wheat as well as cotton, sorghum, and sunflowers. Goodknight Farms’ fluctuating commercial Angus-based cattle operations is mainly overseen by his wife Kara, he added.
“People sometimes refer to commercial agriculture as chicken houses and feed-lots, but those large-scale operations didn’t come up overnight,” said Goodknight. “My great-grandfather came over here from Kentucky and homesteaded just a mile northwest of our headquarters in about 1907.”
Since statehood, the family's farming operations have grown to 7,000 acres, of which 4,500 acres are setup for crops, and 2,500 for cattle, he said.
In high school, Goodknight served as the Chapter FFA president, showed cattle, and participated in speech. He also enjoyed sports and forming relationships with area students while competing in different events.
After graduating as valedictorian of Chattanooga High School’s Class of 2004, Goodknight then went to Oklahoma State University to earn his degree in agri-business. At OSU he and Kara began dating, he said.
“Kara and I are very similar,” he said. “We’re both independent, driven people with career goals and things we want to accomplish. We like the same things, we're outgoing and enjoy animals, agriculture, and visiting with our agriculture friends.”
To help the industry thrive, Goodknight is a member of the Tri-County Cattlemen’s Association and the Tri-County Gin. Strong proponents of Farm Bureau, he and Kara co-chair Oklahoma Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee for District 4, an organization the Goodknights support.
“Farm Bureau advocates on our behalf,” he said.“People in rural America needed a voice in state and federal legislative levels, and the only way to ensure that was to form a group of like-minded, grassroots-oriented people to come together and develop policies that we’re able to support.”
At the state level, Goodknight is a member of the Oklahoma Crop Improvement Association and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association. He represented the OCA at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association’s Spring Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
“With 7 billion people in the world, there is a need for feedlots, chickens houses, and things like that,” he said. “There is a common misconception that farmers and ranchers don’t care for their animals like they would our dogs, cats or horses. But we understand that beef and dairy cattle, pigs, and chickens have a purpose, and their purpose is to nourish and feed people. But we certainly care for them. We put ourselves in harm’s way to take care of them in inclement weather, heat, cold as well [or]rescuing a calf stranded on the other side of a flooding creek. We must ensure the animals’ safety.”
Awarded to young, innovative, and successful farmers and ranchers, The Progressive Farmer magazine named Goodknight as America's 2016 Best Young Farmers and Ranchers for his contributions to agriculture and the community. He and Kara were also presented with the 2019 State Achievement Award from Young Farmers and Ranchers.
Highlighting his business sense in “farming, marketing, finance, family and employee relations, technology and environmental stewardship”, Top Producer magazine awarded him the 2017 Horizon Award.
As the coronavirus pandemic affected markets, Goodknight explained that it wasn’t so much a problem of supply, but the way consumers needed beef packaged.
“It was like you took a well-oiled machine that producing beef to two sectors and shut off one sector,” he said. “What goes to the foodservice industry is boxed beef. They’re getting half of every animal; they're not getting the packaging you're seeing in your local grocery stores. Even though they come from the same animal, the way that they're processed is completely different.
“We had cattle that were unsold on the wheat pasture that brought roughly $200 a head under what they were worth at the first of March,” he said.
Goodknight supports southwest Oklahoma’s commitment to improve on three key topics: producing an educated workforce, improving access to internet, and healthcare.
By creating “an educated workforce that can be focused on at the career-tech level, as far as different trade skills that are taught to high school-age juniors and seniors, [it gets] them ready to enter the work-force,” said Goodknight.
Secondly, he would like high-speed internet more accessible to southwestern Oklahoma, which could connect friends, family and coworkers; help with education, and could be detrimental in emergency situations, including access to telehealth.
“We’re fortunate that we're pretty close to Lawton over here,” he said. “But a big part of southwest Oklahoma is more than an hour away from any urgent-care facilities.”