Compeer Financial names 2024 GroundBreaker of the Year

A central Illinois rancher says diversifying his first-generation operation to meet consumer demand is growing his business.

Sawyer Cottrell started Legacy Ranch in Eureka, Illinois in 2021, and says he found a market in Wagyu beef…

“I wasn’t really making any money selling commercial cattle to the sale barn, and one thing that I’ve learned is that the money is made where the relationship is at.”  He says, “So if I have a meat store, people are coming to me because they trust me, and they trust that we have a good product. You know, I get the largest percentage of that margin.”

He says he also found a passion for raising Wagyu beef…

I’ve always loved a good steak, and I realized that Wagyu was by far the best way to get that on a consistent basis.”  He says, “I knew that as long as I did my job right and raised them well, and give them what they needed, they were going to perform the way God made them. They marble better than any other breed on the planet.”

In addition to selling Wagyu beef direct to consumers, Cottrell also operates a weed removal service for organic farmers.  

He says the Central Illinois Beanwalkers, which employs around 100 local youth each summer, were born from a local necessity…

We have a lot of organic producers in our area.”  He says, “There’s just a continued need for manual labor and there’s only so much that they can do with their equipment. You know, really the most efficient way to manage those weeds is just good old fashioned bean walking. So, I started to realize, ‘Hey, there’s actually a really big opportunity here.’”

Cottrell, who’s also a high school FFA teacher, was named the 2024 Compeer Financial “GroundBreaker of the Year.”  Compeer’s Dana Wiegand, who nominated Sawyer, tells Brownfield…

“We kind of think of someone who’s doing things differently, or doing things outside the box, and just with the many ventures that Sawyer has going on, he’s just a great embodiment of what Compeer’s GroundBreaker of the Year award looks for,” he says.

Nominations for the 2025 GroundBreaker of the Year Award open this summer.

Nominees must be actively involved in farming in Illinois, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, and meet other criteria. 

More information can be found HERE.

AUDIO: Sawyer Cottrell – Legacy Ranch, Eureka, IL

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