Christian. BoyMom. Farmer's Wife. Marathon Runner. Ag Professional. Bourbon Lover.
Advocate for all things agriculture and rural.
Advocate for all things agriculture and rural.
Tunis Sheep Hampshires heed
6/24/2019 119 Comments
Hey Farmer: You are not the farm
I need you to hear something right now. I need you to hear this loud and clear - I’m so sorry for everything this year has thrown at you. I’m so sorry for all the things you cannot control that put so much weight on you. But hear me - YOU are not defined by this year’s crop. Or this year’s income. Or this year’s “success”.
You are not the farm. You are more than the farm.
I saw you leave again this morning, smiling, but still carrying the stress. I know the first thing you did was drive down by the creek to see how much the water has receded. After you do chores in flooded pastures, you’ll sit with your Dad to try and figure out what fields might dry out the fastest and what, if anything, can be done while you wait.
You’ll run the numbers another time or two, to see if it all makes sense. You’ll run through the calendar a few more times, to count down how many days you have left to get caught up on work. We both know you’re never going to be caught up.
You’re standing there, facing wet fields and a crop that may not generate enough income to cover its own expenses, hay fields that can’t be cut, and calves that don’t quit eating just because it’s wet. In your head, you’re hearing the clock - tick, tick, tick - counting down the hours you’ve got to do the work you’re so far behind on.
I know, that even though you keep smiling and laughing, the stress is getting heavier each day. I see it in your eyes. I feel it in the way you toss and turn all night.
So I need you to hear me again - YOU ARE NOT THE FARM.
You are a man who works harder than anyone I know. You are a man who is honest to a fault. You are a man who always finds new ways, better ways. You are a man who can keep the big picture in mind while maintaining laser focus on the details. You are a man who quietly, and humbly, prays for God to help you on the tasks he’s laid before you.
You’re a husband. A father. A son. A brother and an uncle. You are a farmer, a damn good one too, but you are not defined by the farm.
Your family and friends - we love you, regardless of your corn yield or planted acres or the price you sell your calves for.
We will get through this year - one, rainy, wet day at a time. Together, with the strength and guidance of God, we will get through this.
To keep current with the happenings at Uptown Farms, make sure and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
D ear Neighbor,
You pass by our local business daily, even though we don’t have a storefront on Main Street. You drive by our production lines to and from work each day, although you probably just call them fields. You probably don’t give much thought at all to the corn, cattle and soybeans we are raising.
It would probably surprise you to know, that right here in Linn County, MO, a recent economic impact study concluded that $126.6 million in sales is created each year by the local farm families and that 1,173 jobs are supported by those sales. For a rural county, with total population just over 12,000, those numbers are rather significant.
On a national level, the US Grain Council highlights that agriculture accounts for 20% of the US economy and creates more manufacturing jobs than any other sector. In total, more than 21 million jobs are supported by agriculture.
Even with those numbers, we are often left out of the conversations around our economy and local growth and business. That’s on us more than you – we don’t always make ourselves as available as we should. We often struggle to get away from the farm to tell our own stories and sometimes we get aggravated with those who don’t understand our livelihood.
Right now though, we need you to know something. We need you to know that we need NAFTA.
Last fall, I was at the high school football game, where a neighbor was complaining about “grocery store beef”. Like so many others, he seemed surprised when I explained that our beef IS that grocery store beef. Our family is dependent on a much larger market than our local market.
Like most farming communities around the county, we raise more product than could ever be consumed locally, even with the trendiness of it all. Farms tend to be where people are not.
As of 2012 census, we had over 46,000 head of cattle in our county. That’s nearly 4 times our human population. The local crew could never consume all that beef. The same holds true for the corn and soybeans and other products we raise.
Your local farm families – your American farm families – happen to be extremely good at what they do. The best in the world by most measures. NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Agreement, makes trade with some of our largest partners - Canada and Mexico - more efficient. And trade is vital to the success of American agriculture.
US Grains Council points out that the sale of corn to Mexico has went up 847% since the start of NAFTA. Missouri is uniquely at risk. In 2016 alone, 69% of our ag exports went to NAFTA trade partners which makes us the 5th highest state for percentage of exports effected by the agreement. The US Chamber of Commerce estimates that 8.2% of Missouri job are connected to NAFTA trade.
Your local farm families are entering our fourth year of an agriculture downturn. The USDA reports that farm income has decreased 42% over the last three years. Many of your local farmers are not in a financial position to withstand the economic blow that would be delivered from a withdrawal. Young farm families like my own would be hit the hardest.
We love the communities we call home, and we are passionate about helping rural communities thrive. In order for our local business to continue to have strong impact on our rural economies, we need you to know that #NAFTAworks. And we need you to share your support with our elected officials.
Your Local Farm Family
10/30/2017 46 Comments
#My60Acres: Soybean Harvest
#My60Acres is harvested again! This was the second year Matt let me play a leading role in the management of a sixty acre field on our home farm, and my first soybean crop.
I didn't get to start the morning with him because my work schedule has been a little hectic, so I didn't join until late afternoon. But as soon as I got there, he slid over and let me take the wheel.
It might sound odd that he couldn't wait a day or two for my schedule to be better, but soybean harvest is very time sensitive. We have to wait long enough the plants are dry, but not too long.
If the plant isn't dry yet it's very tough to cut and clogs up the combine. Think about breaking a wet stick compared to breaking one that dry and brittle. The dry one snaps while the wet one is very tough to break.
However, if we wait too long, the pods can actually get so dry they bust open, sending the soybeans to the ground where we can no longer harvest them.
So, he went ahead and started harvesting while I finished my week at work and I wrapped up when I get back home.
It was beautiful to combine this year. About a month prior, we had an airplane fly on a cover crop seed that was a mix of turnips, radishes, peas, crimson clover and triticale. That cover is coming up beautifully and will protect my soil all winter and early into the spring. Read more about our cover crops here!
Overall we were surprised and happy with our yields! We had a challenging late growing season with very little rain. Seed genetics - which have advanced tremendously in the last decade - helped us to deal with that lack of water. Additionally, my cover crop was still covering the ground which helps to retain water in the soil longer.
We estimate an average of 40 bushel when making our projections in the spring, so despite a less than ideal season, we still had an above average crop that yielded 49 bushel to the acre! The higher than average yield helps to offset prices that are below where we had projected.
Soybeans are the number one crop for the state of Missouri. Missouri farm families grow so many soybeans because our soils and weather are good for growing them, plus we have established markets to sell them at.
Of the bean itself, 80% is soybean meal and 20% is soybean oil. Nearly all of soybean meal is used in animal feed. Of soybean oil, 68% is used for human food - baking and frying mostly - and another 25% is used for biodiesel and bioheat.
We still have about a week or so left of harvest, so make sure and follow us on Facebook for more #Harvest17 updates!
Two weeks ago, April 23, was the day I had been waiting for since I successfully coerced my farmer husband into letting me take over sixty acres!
To read about #my60Acres from the start, go here and scroll down to the bottom!
It was finally planting day! Picking the right time to plant involves a little bit of planning, some major guessing and hopefully some good luck!
Long before planting however I worked with Matt to figure out exactly what type of corn seed we would use.
There's a lot of Internet myth surrounding seed selection - especially corn seed. The truth is that as farmers, the decision on what seeds to buy, from what companies, is completely up to us!
There are multiple companies - some rather larger, some pretty small, that develop and sell seed.
Each company has numerous varieties - each with different traits, different growing seasons, different soil preferences.
For #My60Acres, I knew I would be using Pfister Seeds. Pfister is a smaller seed company that is owned by Dow Agriscience.
We like doing business with Pfister because we have access to the latest technology while also having benefit of doing business with a smaller company. Everyone we work with is truly engaged in our success as growers - enough so that Matt decided to start selling Pfister seed two years ago.
From there we still had to select what hybrid we would use.
Nearly all corn planted in this country is a hybrid. This means they take two parent lines and cross them for the seed production. The resulting offspring of those crosses is a more effective seed than either parent line. This is a breeding technique done on nearly all corn - conventional, non GMO and organic.
We also knew that we would need "Roundup Ready" corn, which is a GMO developed trait. Because we use no till practices and cover crops to reduce soil erosion, increase soil health and the health of the organisms living within our soils , we rely on glyphosate (Roundup) to control weeds and kill our cover crops.
If we left the cover crop standing and allowed weeds to take over, our corn would have to fight for resources and wouldn't produce a profitable yield. And the reality is we have to be profitable to be sustainable!
We also have a choice on how many days we want the corn to mature in. Most field corn grown in the US ranges from 80+ days to 118+.
We typically grow 108-116 day corn. Because we have a longer growing season in Missouri we can plant corn with longer growing season but this also comes with risk of not drying down quickly enough in the fall - we need the corn to be dry before the first frost.
Corn that hasn't dried down soon enough runs the potential of being damaged in the field or in storage and will not be a quality product.
I also wanted a trait called BT - this is another GMO developed trait. The BT trait (which was taken from a soil bacterium) is deadly to European corn boer - a nasty pest that can reduce a corn field to nothing. The trait eliminates the need for us to use any routine spray insecticide!
BT is actually a very selective trait - it's only deadly to pests within the caterpillar family. Chemical sprays we had to use before BT traits were deadly to nearly all insects, something we now recognize as being harmful to the ecosystem surrounding our farms. The BT trait very much compliments the ecological plan on our farm!
With all that in mind, I selected a popular Pfister Hybrid for our growing area - Pfister 2770.
Selecting the time to plant is a gamble each year. Getting corn in the ground as early as possible allows a farmer to take advantage of early spring rains. But getting in too early can mean corn is washed away from hard rains, flooded out, or it turns off cold and the corn simply doesn't come up.
We have to wait for the soil to reach certain temperatures and also want to do our best to ensure the corn will have adequate moisture during pollination.
With all that in mind, we pulled the trigger and decided to start planting. Matt actually started planting corn a few weeks ago but my 60 acres was the last up.
Matt helped me to navigate the John Deere 8200 with John Deere 1780 split row planter. We have a smaller planter by modern standards - 12 rows at a time. Some farmers today plant with 48 row planters!
Our tractor has several monitors in the cab that help us to make sure the right number of seeds are being planted in the right spot. We also have "automatic row shut off" which uses GPS technology to make sure we do not plant over anywhere we have already planted. When we get to end rows the planter boxes can shut off a single row at a time to ensure we do not use any more seed than necessary!
This was a pretty exciting day for me! Matt is putting a rain gauge up right next to #My60Acres so I can monitor rain fall the rest of the growing season!
Stay tuned to see my corn come out of the ground!
He sprayed #My60acres with CHEMICALS! To be exact, he applied 22 ounces to the acre of glyphosate. This is done in order to kill off my cover crop and any weeds before my corn starts to grow. This greatly reduces stress on growing corn, allowing us to maximize the use of our soil, water and other resources.
Glyphosate is an herbicide, one of the least toxic and most effective herbicides available that is explained well here! But yes, it's a chemical.
Chemical. The word is enough to send any modern mom into instant panic mode, their fear often directing them to Google, which has a way of growing that fear into an obsession. (For basic understanding of chemicals, check out this great resource!)
The unfounded fear is one millions of Americans share. We are adverse to chemicals in our cleaning supplies, in our shampoos, our makeup.
But we are downright terrified of chemicals in our food. And although that fear is unfounded - we are surrounded by chemicals, everything is in fact made up of chemicals- I can still sympathize.
We are also constantly surrounded by advertising encouraging us to pay a premium for "chemical free" or "natural" products.
To be fair, only matter is made up of one or more chemicals. As this website explains, "daydreams aren't chemicals. Neither are light waves or sound waves. But if you can touch it, feel it, taste it - it's made up of one of more chemicals."
I could point to the hundreds of peer reviewed research that proves the chemicals we use in modern agriculture are safer than chemicals used in years past. I will link to this booklet that provides an in depth explanation of the safety of glyphosate.
I could explain that the chemical he is spraying is actually less toxic than your household vinegar, less toxic than the caffeine in my morning coffee It's certainly less toxic than many of the "natural" pesticides routinely used in organic farming. I could explain it's also once of the most tested herbicides available.
I could remind you that if you buy labeled food to avoid pesticides, you're wasting your money. All food can have trace amounts of pesticides present - remember plants even produce pesticides naturally. But that fact has absolutely nothing to do with the safety of your food.
Conventional and organic fresh food, even when testing positive for trace amounts of pesticides, is safe. (Check out what The Farmer's Daughter has to say regarding the now infamous "Dirty Dozen".)
I also know that even when your mind reads, and even understands the science, the mom in you will still question.
Is it necessary?
Is it really safe?
Are the farmers using it the right way?
Do the farmers even care?
The answer to all of those questions is YES!
I am a mom too. I have the same questions and fears about the food that I feed my family that you do. And I can assure you, my family, and all farm families, want to raise safe food in a sustainable way.
Using chemicals like glyphosate is simply ONE of the many tools in our toolbox that we can use to grow safe, sustainable food for the people and livestock of the world.
But to again quote Sharon,
With all due respect to chemicals, the word “chemical” should be commonplace. It shouldn’t carry nearly the power that it does, as its meaning is practically on par with “stuff”.
Some of you may have seen the WHO reclassification of glyphosate as a possible carcinogen. Please read here to better understand what that classification actually means.
To read about obtaining the land I am using for #My60acres, read here. To read about applying nitrogen, read here.
Check back VERY shortly for a planting update!
"Tell your story!" Anyone in the agriculture industry has been hearing it! It is important and I'm the first to boast how much I love to tell my story.
But, if I am honest, I'm usually telling my husband's story. He's the farmer.
Well not this year! Matt is sliding over into the buddy seat and turning me loose on my very own 60 acres! And I'm taking you along for the ride by detailing the entire process of raising corn right here, all season long!
When it comes to land, farmers generally talk in acres. One acre is 43,560 square feet - roughly the size of a football field.
The first step for any crop farmer is the most obvious (and most expensive) one - find some land.
Generally there are two options available for a farmer to obtain land - buy it or rent it.
On a side note- some farmers are given land, most families cannot simply turn over acres to the next generation that wants to come back. That would essentially be taking one family's income and cutting it in half. Generally, when a child comes back to the farm, the farm has to grow - a prime example of why "large farms" do not equal bad farms.
Buying land can be very challenging. Matt farmed for 7 years before we were actually able to buy any land. Land has to be for sale in an area that makes sense for the farmer, it has to be the right type of land for what the farmer wants to use it for, and the farmer has to be able to afford to purchase the land.
For years we kept an eye out for farms that might be for sale in our area. Several times we looked at farms that were either too far away, not the right type of soil for growing crops, or we simply could not afford them.
Just when Matt had all but given up, a couple we rented land from decided to give us the opportunity to buy the farm Matt had his eye on for as long as he could remember!
Owning a farm, instead of renting, is a financial game changer for a young farm family in the same way that owning a home, over renting, is for the average American family!
This farm was in the exact right location, with the mixture of crop and pasture land that matched our family's needs.
Additionally, the sellers were willing to wait on us to obtain funding from the USDA's beginning farmer loan program - which can be a long process. In a market where they could have contacted an investor and had their money in a few weeks, this was unbelievably gracious, a blessing we will never forget.
Traditional farm loans usually require a 30% down payment, at adjustable interest rates higher than a typical home loan. Also unlike home loans, most farm loans are made on 20 year instead of 30 year terms.
The USDA's young and beginning farmer program allowed us to be qualified for a 30 year farm loan - partially from a private bank and partially from the USDA - with only 5% down.
When it comes to a first farm purchase, many young farmers would never have a chance if it wasn't for these programs, funded through the farm bill. Matt and I were no different.
My sixty acres is part of the farm that Matt and I own. So although we do not pay rent, we do have a loan on the farm, which means there is a payment that still has to be made - from crops and calves we raise each year. That payment will be made not only from income off this farm, but from income from the farms Matt rents as well.
Renting land comes in many different forms. Farmers need to find land in the area, that is available for rent, and that can grow the crops they want to grow.
Rent contracts have gotten more creative and unique over the last few decades but most agreements take on one of two general forms - crop shares or cash rents.
Crop shares - or share cropping depending on your location- was the most popular way to rent ground for a long time. This form of rent allows the landowner and farmer to share in the risk, and the reward, of farming.
Many crop shares today are still on a standard 50/50 agreement where the landlord and farmer split the costs of putting in the crop, the land owner provides the land and the farmer the equipment and labor, and they then split whatever crop is raised off the farm half and half, or 50/50.
Another common crop share version is a different split such as an 80/20 or 70/30 share where the farmer covers all costs of the crop and pays the landowner the agreed upon share of the crop as rent.
In the last decades, the cash rent agreements have become more popular. Some of these contracts can become very complex with multiple payments, price averages, yield bonuses and more but the concept of cash renting is largely the same.
The farmer pays the agreed upon rent, sometimes in the fall, sometimes in the spring, and sometimes in two payments in fall and spring, and the farmer keeps 100% of the crop. The farmer takes on all of the risk and all of the reward with growing a crop.
Matt told me that he could probably rent my sixty acres for to another farmer for $100 an acre - so he would agree to rent it to me for $150! (By the time I harvest this crop he will be wishing he charged me more!)
Now that I have my 60 acres "rented", I have some major decisions to make on seed, fertilizers, crop insurance and more before it's time to plant.
“What do you do?” Sometimes I identify myself with a lengthy description of my career in Ag finance, but often I just leave it at, “We farm!”
I also find myself using “We farm” as an explanation as to why I am alone so often at gatherings. But the more people I talk to, the more I realize that not everyone knows what I mean when I say, “We farm”. So I am going to explain exactly what “farming” means to my family.
Our farm consists of our cows, our sheep, and our row crops. I will cover each of these over the next few posts, but will start with our cows.
One of my favorite parts of our farm is our cattle herd. We have what is commonly called a “Cow/Calf operation” – meaning we maintain a group of cows who will raise a baby calf each year, and then sell the baby at weaning time.
When Matt decided he wanted to come back to farm with his dad that meant he was going to have to find additional sources of income. For most farm families it simply isn’t feasible to take a farming operation that supported one family and suddenly expect the same income to support two families.
So for us, the decision was pretty easy to purchase cows! We both love livestock, we actually met at a sheep show! A cow is a fully mature female who has already had babies. We started with 20 older cows, which was considered a little safer investment because of their experience delivering and raising calves, or babies.
Once we became more experienced with our cows, we started adding heifers. A heifer is a young female who has never calved before. We like to purchase heifers because a younger animal can stay with us on our farm for a longer time and we will know more of her complete health history. But the risk is higher and labor greater, because heifers need more assistance in the beginning.
When we first started, we did not own any of our land so we had to rent the land our cows used. We have since been able to purchase a farm, but still have to rent some pasture to make sure we have enough for all of our cows.
The first step is to breed the cows and heifers. On our farm we live breed – meaning we use live bulls, or intact male cattle, that naturally breed the cows. Many farmers are taking advantage of other breeding methods like artificial insemination.
You might hear people refer to “spring calvers” and “fall calvers”. These terms describe the time of year the cow will have her baby. We actually have some of each, so we are typically having babies, or “calving”, in September and October and then again in February and March.
Our cows, like nearly all beef cattle in the United States, have their calves on pasture. They rarely need any help, but we do have to watch the heifers much more closely – remember heifers are the ones who have never had babies before. Usually after one or two calving seasons they have it figured out and will no longer need any help from us!
Once the calves are born, they graze and roam pastures right alongside their mamma for about 8 months. After the group reaches the point they no longer need milk as source of nutrition, they are ready to wean. Because we are a cow/calf operation, this is the time we sell our baby calves, who now weight about 550 pounds!
When our calves are ready, we sell them for the current market price. Prices fluctuate daily on cattle and it’s something we have no control over. Price changes is one of the greatest challenges for any farmer!
Our calves are purchased by other farm families that will “background” them. They will keep the calves, most often on pasture, until they reach 12-16 months of age. We typically separate our calves and sell the heifers (females) to a local farmer who will background them until they are ready to breed, and then sell them as bred heifers to other cow/calf farmers.
The steers (neutered males) then go onto yet another farm family who will finish them at a feedlot. A majority of feedlots are considered small feedlots, with 95% of them having less than 1000 head.
Regardless of size, the families that run feedlots are extremely dedicated to finishing out a high quality and safe product! Once the cattle reach market weight, they will be harvested with their beef sold in stores across the country.
Nearly all beef cattle in the US start on farms just like mine and spend a majority of their lives grazing pastures. The next time you purchase beef from the supermarket, know that you are supporting family farmers just like us!
The next time you purchase beef from the supermarket, know that you are supporting family farmers just like us!
When someone wants to discount my information on modern agriculture, they state that we are just “for profit farmers”. People even protest farmers making a profit, with signs saying things like “people over profit”.
Some people seem to be of the a mindset that those who are trying to make a living farming are in some sort of conspiracy with “Big Ag” that results in nearly all the evils of the world from starvation and obesity to autism and cancer.
Last week, a visitor to my blog asked me to visit a website of a self proclaimed "sustainable farmer". He appeared to be taking full advantage of all the hot buzz words – he was verified organic, labor intense, small, local, natural, non-GMO, hormone free, antibiotic free, gluten free, Monsanto free – but he was not sustainable.
How do I know? On the side bar, of every page on his website, he was asking for donations to be able to continue his farm.
Farmers have to be profitable to be sustainable! And you WANT farmers to be profitable. Here is why.
1. Farming takes a lot of money. And if farmers are going to make long term investments, they must be profitable. The information, technology and equipment available is constantly changing and improving. When farmers can take advantage of these changes they can get better at managing the high demands of the industry with caring for their farms and caring for the environment.
For example, when my father in law made the management decision to switch to no-till farming in 1992, it took money to do that. He had to purchase a new drill and new attachments for his planter. He had to spend time and money learning about the process.
A person can farm on a small scale as a hobby. These types of farms are great for the people running them and the people that are close enough to buy from them! They are are often supplemented by other sources of income and only exist as long as those other sources (like website donations) are available. These small farms are NOT a sustainable model we can duplicate across the country to meet the high demands of modern agriculture.
"These small farms are NOT a sustainable model we can duplicate across the country to meet the high demands of modern agriculture."
2. Farming takes a lot of work with crazy hours. Right now, 93-96% of all farms in the USA are family owned. Farmers, and their families, give up a lot to live this lifestyle. I have never met a farmer who would change a thing, but if they cannot make a living at this they would never be able to justify the hours and sacrifices they make. Farmers have bills to pay and kids to send to summer camps just like you!
3. Farmers need to be experts. Farming is not easy and it requires expertise in a lot of areas. If you want your farmers to be experts in protecting the environment, food safety, technology, soil science, biology, the weather and the countless other areas they need to master – they have to be able to do this for a career. They have to be able to afford to devote the time and money into educating themselves and improving their farming practices.
Someone recently commented on my blog that farmers “just do whatever the experts tell them”. If you have ever met a farmer, you’ll know there probably is not one in existence that just does what someone tells them to do. Farmers take great pride in making management decisions and they need the ability to spend the time and money to make educated choices.
4. Profitable farms can focus on long term planning versus short term cash flow. It’s popular to claim that farmers make management decisions based solely on increasing a single year's yields or increasing a single year’s profits. The truth is some farms are forced to do that.
Farms that have not been profitable in the past and are feeling that pressure can often be forced to make decisions that may lower input costs or increase cash flow in the short run. This can result in some of the devastating stories we hear about mismanagement of animals or food on farms.
Farms that are profitable can make decisions based on what is best for the long term. A farmer’s long term is not his retirement – it’s his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, taking over the farm.
Financial stability allows farmers to make decisions that are best for soil health, animal health, the environments surrounding our farms and consumers. Contrary to what internet activists will tell you, it's not in the industry's best interest to poison consumers.
Sustainability on farms is a process with many steps. The first step, the foundation to any farm being sustainable, is to be profitable. It’s time to stop making profit an evil word and start embracing it for our farmers and the industry!
"It’s time to stop making profit an evil word and start embracing it for our farmers and the industry!"
"If you are in college or heading to college, but want to eventually head back home to a one stop light town, here are some career paths to look into."
In college, when it became obvious my now husband was going nowhere but back to the family farm, I became nervous about finding a career that I would love. His hometown was less than 5,000 people and not within commuting distance of any major city.
I loved him, and I loved the idea of farming. The thought of raising kids on a farm sounded perfect. But there were a few realities that bothered me.
First, I knew we couldn’t both stay on the farm. One of us was going to have to have reliable and steady income to cover our costs and start paying back student loans, not to mention the need for health insurance. .
Second, I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t have a stimulating career that pushed me mentally and forced me to develop as a professional. So, when I landed a job with the largest agriculture lender in the state I thought I felt like I had struck gold (I was right by the way, my job is still a pretty sweet deal!).
The more time I spent in the industry, the more I noticed that the demand is strong in many careers that can take you back home to rural America!
If you are in college or heading to college, but want to eventually head back home to a one stop light town, here are some career paths to look into.
1. Farm Appraiser: This is first for the obvious reason it’s the best career! (Or at least, it’s my career). Actually, there is a great demand for Farm Appraisers in rural America. The average age of Certified General Appraisers (the highest license available and a requirement if you want to appraise farm land), is reflective of the age of farmers – somewhere in the upper 50’s.
As a farm appraiser I spend most my time in the field looking at farms. I visit with farmers and provide services help them manage risk on their operations better. The analytical side of me loves the number crunching and data analysis I do each day. It’s a rewarding and well-paying job, for more information on this career path; visit the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.
2. Farm Manager: Land ownership in our state is following trends seen in many states. We are getting more and more out of the area land owners (either through inheritance or purchase) and these land owners often know very little about agriculture. The demand for Farm Managers, someone to help guide owners in making sound management decisions for their farms, is growing in nearly every rural market.
Farm managers spend a great deal of time networking with farmers, land owners, buyers and sellers. They make arrangements for the operations of farms, they monitor progress and sometimes are even directly involved in farming properties! For information n this career path, also visit the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.
3. Crop Insurance Agent: With more volatile markets and rising input costs, most farmers have to take advantage of any risk management tools they can. A huge one in crop areas is crop insurance.
Insurance agents work with farmers to help guide them through insurance policies, finding which options are best for their farms. They assist them with making claims and other aspects of insurance. For information on this career path, visit National Crop Insurance Services.
4. Crop Insurance Adjuster: Of course with all the crop insurance policies come crop insurance claims. Adjusters work with the agents and farmers to measure any loss that farmers have.
Adjusters spend a lot of time in the field working directly with farmers, mostly on their farms. For information on becoming a crop adjuster, visit the websites of Crop Insurance companies such as Rain and Hail.
5. Land Surveyor: There is a huge need for land surveyors in rural America and that need is anticipated to keep growing! The average age, much like that of appraisers, is estimated at 57..
Land Surveyor’s work with farmers, government institutions, financial institutions, attorney’s and more. They are skilled professionals that spend time in the field and also get to utilize technology. For more information on this career path, please visit All About Surveying!
What other careers are available in your piece of rural America?
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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