When Push Comes to Shove

A great way to determine your patience and stamina is to stand in the check-out line at the grocery for an extended period of time with 1,000 other things on your to-do list. No one goes to the grocery to stand around, and yet, we seem to do a lot of that once there.

A great way to determine your overall character as a human being is to evaluate how you react at the grocery, wandering the aisles looking for Ovaltine (FYI: it isn’t with the powered drinks, coffee, or tea. It is with the ice cream toppings. Don’t ask me why, but thank me later)  on days before 1) a holiday or 2) a natural disaster.

Right?

Isn’t the absolute worst time to visit the store for ketchup, crackers and Kleenex right before something big is about to happen? That’s why in the days leading up to Hurricanes Harvey & Irma store shelves across America’s southeast began looking like this:

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When push comes to shove, Americans will stock up on absolutely anything and everything to ensure their families don’t go without.

Or will they?

A lady who was raised in our rural trade territory but has since moved to Florida shared this photo online. As we reviewed the details of her observation, we couldn’t help but chuckle.

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This was taken at a Publix in Tampa, Florida

When stock of everything else in the store appears to be depleted, the vegan section remains in order and seemingly untouched.

So this begs the question:

When push comes to shove,

where do consumers really

look for nutrition?

It would appear that when the general consumer believes that their access to food might be limited in the days to follow, they will forgo the fad marketing tactics and purchase what they think will truly provide nutrients in times of need.

It makes you wonder: why does it take a natural disaster for folks to make clear, common sense, affordable choices regarding food? Some people just think better under pressure, I guess. They’re probably the kind that end up on gameshows.

 

 

 

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You Can’t Milk An Almond

One of our employees was at a meeting Wednesday night to help plan an upcoming event to educate consumers on food production. At the table was a beef producer, a dairyman and two large animal veterinarians.

They began visiting about questions that might arise during the “where does my food come from?” conversation with consumers and one person made a simple, humorous, but very valid remark: “We need to make sure they know you can’t milk an almond.”

If you’ve ever seen an almond tree or eaten a almond, that might seem pretty obvious. But what about those consumers who really believe almond “milk” (or soy “milk”, coconut “milk”, rice “milk”, etc.) is actual milk?

It isn’t.

The American Dairy Association of Indiana has a fantastic piece of literature out that explains the differences in milk and plant-based drinks and the phenomenal advantage that cow’s milk offers consumers.

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The nutritional value of cow’s milk, compared to plant-based substitutes, is unparalleled, but let’s talk about the ingredient label of each…..WOW!

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Next time you’re at the grocery and making an effort to keep your family healthy while avoiding all the foodie marketing hype, keep this label in mind. It breaks down the facts: there is no drink with greater nutritional value than real milk. From a cow. Not a plant.

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Photo Friday: 2017 Answer Plot

We had a successful (and hot) 2017 Answer Plot on August 16. There was standing room only in our presentation tents, which told us that despite the growing season we’ve endured this year, there is still a desire to learn for next year.

2017 Answer Plot topics included:

  • Nitrogen Management: Lessons Learned in 2017 for Success in 2018
  • Corn & Beans: Finish Strong in 2017, Start Strong in 2018
  • Why Can’t I Kill Weeds Anymore?: Managing with Resistance
  • Are Traits Still Relevant?: Seed Trait Technology
  • Does YieldPro Still Pay?
  • Your Credit Options
  • Keynote Presenter for those in our Harvest Elite group: King of Corn, Dr. Bob Nielsen 

Many thanks to all who attended. We know you have many places to be and we’re glad you spent the day with us.

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Cultivating Communities: Teri Dunlavy

Often when you contact a Harvest Land location you may not know the person on the other end of the line. Those conversations are typically all business and very transactional. But what if you knew a little more about the person working to serve your from your local farmer-owned cooperative?

Every so often we’d like to introduce you to a Harvest Land employee and tell their cultivating communities story. Today marks the first entry in our Cultivating Communities series.

Our employees continue to find opportunities to cultivate communities in creative ways. We ask every employee (more than 300) to commit 8 hours annually to community service. It’s interesting to hear where employees dedicate their 8 hours and what community groups are special to them once they leave work for the day.

Teri Dunlavy is our Credit Manager and works out of the Richmond administrative office. We’ll let her tell you about what that role entails:

“My role with Harvest Land Co-op Inc., is Credit Manager.  I, along with my staff, Rachel Osborne and Tammy Fox, are responsible for monitoring the collection of our accounts receivable.  With an established account we allow our customers in the agriculture, commercial fuels and home heat portions of our business to charge product they use to an account and pay for it at a later date.  We evaluate new applications, review credit worthiness and set credit limits. If a customer does not pay for the product they have charged, we then have to collect payment.  While we are in the collecting phase, we have to get communication from the customer, find out what is going on that delayed payment and see if we can reach a mutual repayment plan all the while deciding if we can continue to provide goods and services or if we have stop future deliveries of product until we have been paid.  Customers paying for the product they buy from us directly affects our ability to continue to be in business, serve our customers and generate income to be able to pay our bills and our employees.  I also spend some extra time in our agronomy area with getting information out about financing options that allow our growers to spread repayment out to harvest and match their cash flows while at the same time reducing our exposure risk and hopefully providing them with a cost saving benefit.

We spend a large amount of time in front of our computer screens, on the telephone and even out with our customers, more often on the agronomy side, getting to know their needs and becoming familiar with them so that if something does happen to their prompt payments, we can identify problems as quickly as possible and limit our risks of exposure for loss.  We spend time making sure we have accounts set up in the correct names and that the people using products are the people holding the accounts.  Within our department, we sometimes describe what we do in this way:

We are like Walmart or your local grocery store only our groceries are seed, fuel, chemicals and grain.  Our department allows our customers to get their groceries and walk out the door with a promise to pay the next month.  We have to be able to identify the customers that we feel comfortable walking out the door with groceries on a promise to pay and hold accountable those that need to pay before they leave!”

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For five days in June, Teri volunteered at Royal Family KIDS camp in rural Indiana. The camp is exclusively for children in the foster care system. Thirty-two children (16 boys, 16 girls) spent five days exploring, creating, singing, listening, learning, tearing apart and building back up again, all while beginning each day with a Bible lesson to carry with them throughout the day.

So how did Teri get involved with this organization?

“Our church has been providing a camp under the Royal Family KIDS organization for 16 years.  Before and after camp, our camp director and some of the staff share about the camp experience with the congregation.  I had listened to their updates over the years and this year camp was during a week that Mike was going to be gone for a corporate meeting, our kids are both out on their own in what we refer to as “Big Kid Land” and my schedule was wide open to be available.  It’s a rare thing when all the excuses a person makes for NOT doing a something are simply removed and the door seems to open wider and wider.  This year was that year for me so I took it as sort of an it is meant to be thing and I signed up!  Camp takes 2 adults for every child and at 32 kids, we needed over 60 adults.  Camp  staff is on site from Sunday through Friday and kids are with us Monday to Friday.  I told our director to just put me where she needed someone the most.  I got photographer!  There were 3 of us and you might think that would be over-done however, with fishing, swimming, archery, horseback riding and multiple craft areas each day there is a LOT of activity going on.  The kids each get an individualized photo book of happy camp memories to take home with them at the end of the week.  The challenging part is that the photos can’t contain any of the other children unless they are of the same family. 

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During the week at camp, the kids get to play with no worries and no strings attached.  They don’t have to worry where food will come from or if there will be any adult drama or dangerous drama for them to deal with.  The kids range in ages from 6 to 11.  After 11, they graduate out of the program.  That is one of the bitter sweet things as an 11 year old is still really a kid!”

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The children who attend this camp come from various backgrounds, but something that lacks with each is stability. Unfortunately, the children are shuffled around a lot depending on home and family situations. But for these five days, the camp’s goal is to provide great stability, care, encouragement and love.

Royal Family Kids Camp even has a surprise birthday party day where every child is celebrated as though it’s their birthday and receives presents! Can you imagine the joy in that room on that particular day?

Teri went on to say this about her experience:

“I’m very blessed as I grew up in a family with my mom, dad, brother and sister all living together and in the same location for 17 of the 22 years I lived at home.  Mom and dad still live on my childhood farm.  I was slightly familiar with the foster care system as we had a foster child for a few months while I was in middle school, I have an aunt raising grandchildren so that they would not become part of the foster system and in following a co-worker with her journey to adopt her daughter.  Mike and I moved a few times early in our marriage but were able to raise our children together in the same home where we have been for 24 years (our kids are 27 and 23) on his family farm with his parents living just down the road.  It’s hard for me to think that it’s not that way for all children and families.  Giving one week to create a happy experience for kids who don’t get to experience that same stability and family together experience seemed like a small thing.  Now that I have done it, I realize that it IS only a small portion but hopefully one that leaves an impression on these kids as they grow up and that provides a happy childhood memory.

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It is fascinating to hear how people spend their time after the business doors are locked for the night and the lights are shut down. Everyone has something they’re passionate about outside of the office.

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Teri is in the center, surrounded by her family.

Thank you, Teri, for sharing your personal story

of how you cultivate communities

outside the walls of Harvest Land.

We’re quite proud to have you on our team.

 

 

 

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America’s Got Talent

There is a familiar topic often discussed around the tanks, bins and offices of our farmer-owned cooperative: Finding good help. 

Today more than ever we’re in constant need of individuals who are willing and able to work. But we understand that we’re not alone in this need. We visit with other cooperatives, agriculture industry partners and businesses in general who have a real need for employees to fill various job openings and be willing to do the job at hand.

While there is great social pressure for people to attend four-year colleges, we believe in the value of sound training, honing a skill and capitalizing on natural talents. Not everyone was cut out to be a financial analyst, programmer or lawyer. Many people are much better at framing a home or repairing a bridge than they would be behind a computer. We need more of these talented workers to keep America running!

We need more applicators who understand the importance of chemistry, mixing order and precise spraying so that the crop grows strong and healthy.

We need more people who find value in their day when they realize they supplied propane to two elementary schools, the soup kitchen and a country church – all in the same day.

We need more truck drivers who enjoy routine and understand weight and structure limits, licensing and defending against distracted drivers who are on their phone.

We need more welders who can repair the tongue on a trailer needed to haul seed corn to the local farmer.

We need more individuals who would much rather work in the fresh air and sunshine (or crisp air and snow), instead of a frigid air conditioned office, scrolling Facebook on company time.

We need more folks who don’t mind a little dirt under their nails and appreciate a good bar of lava soap. There is absolutely nothing wrong with ending the day in soiled clothes and dirty hands; those are both great indications of a hard day’s work.

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We tend to believe that the person who can mix shielding gas along with wire electrode to combine metals to repair a tank that goes on to heat a doctor’s office during a winter storm is just as important as the doctor, herself.

Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can repair a water line that irrigates 100 acres of corn that will be donated to the local food pantry once marketed in the fall.

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Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can process the mechanics of a machine and understand the intricate details of power. They understand cause and effect and that each piece serves a purpose.

Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can recognize a leak within a seal and repair it before it costs the company thousands of dollars in replacement parts.

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Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can walk three feet into a soybean field and identify the cause of the damage and make a recommendation for addressing it before the grower loses hundreds of acres to disease.

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Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can use common sense to logically think through a process and find a solution. This basic, but crucial, talent is how food is grown to feed the world, cures are found and lives are literally saved.

Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they genuinely care about customer service and believe in treating people with respect. They are honest and trustworthy and it is obvious to anyone who does business with them.

Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can communicate clearly that everything is going to be ok when a worried home owner calls in a panic because she smells gas during her baby’s nap time.

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We need more of these people. The ones who are ready to execute on the talents instilled in them, build upon the skills they’ve already acquired and spend their days working for the common good.

America’s got this talent, and we’re looking for it. If you’re interested in a career, rather than just another job, we hope you’ll contact Harvest Land.

 

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Thank You: Fueling Freedom 2017

Another successful Fueling Freedom is in the books and we have you to thank!

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For every gallon of fuel pumped during the event, CountryMark and Harvest Land donated 50 cents to the local National Guard Family Readiness Group. It’s pretty awesome when you consider that more than 20 National Guard Family Readiness Groups will benefit from Fueling Freedom in 2017.

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100% of the proceeds from Fueling Freedom go to support local National Guard Family Readiness Groups. Family Readiness Groups fund activities for troops and their families. Many of the groups use their funds to host summer picnics, hold Christmas dinners, send packages to deployed soldiers, and offer after-school programs for children of American soldiers.

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And this was only what Harvest Land contributed!

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Many thanks to anyone who purchased fuel from 12:00 – 5:00 to support Fueling Freedom. Your willingness to support such a worthy cause is very much appreciated.

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Photo Friday: Colors of Independence

Our nation will celebrate its independence next Tuesday, July 4. The weekend we’re about to kick off will be filled with parades, cook-outs, concerts, family get-togethers, fireworks and of course a lot of red, white and blue.

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The three colors of independence are all over the farm if you take minute to recognize them!

Today in this “Photo Friday” we’re doing just that.

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Sure sign that a farm kid lives here.

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Who doesn’t love a good farm truck with a story, or two?

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If you’re like us, you’ll agree that it’s important to keep in mind our history as we move and progress forward. Enjoy this Independence Day video from the History Channel:

 

Happy New Year

 

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Summer Break for Farm Kids

“Well, the kids are ready to go back to school,” a coworker said last Monday.

“Ready to go back to school?,” I questioned in surprise. “Didn’t summer break start at Memorial Day?” I asked, making sure I understood him.

“Yes. But since break started they’ve been at the barn by 6:30 every morning, and now with no homework we’re working outside until at least 10:00 every night. I leave a list every day before I come to the office. Life was easier when they got to go to school from 8:00 – 3:00,” he explained.

I couldn’t help but laugh. I’ve been in those shoes, or boots, before.

Summer “break” isn’t nearly as relaxing for farm kids as it might be for those without livestock to feed, barns to clean out or hay to bale.

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What Pool Membership?

Farm kids typically don’t have a pool membership, but rather a creek, pond or river to cool off in when the day is long and hot. Granted, they usually have to wade through thistles, rocks and maybe even nettles to get to the place where the cool water flows, but that’s still better than packing a pool bag and warm Capri Suns to suck on chlorine water for an afternoon.

Also, farm kids don’t understand all the recent hype about stock tank pools. They’ve been cooling off in stock tanks for as long as they can remember! The water was never that clear, though…

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What Is Sleeping In?

This concept isn’t new, but it’s somewhat foreign to farm kids. When farm kids hear others talk about sleeping until 10:00 – or even noon – they think to themselves, “My day is half over by then!” or, “Why in the world would you start your day in the hottest hour?”

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Who remembers this print that International Harvester put out in 1975?

Farm kids would probably love the chance to sleep in just once, but they’re afraid they’d miss the best sunrise and they also prefer to have certain jobs done before it gets too hot.

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Homework Takes on Entirely New Meaning

Even though school is out, farm kids still have homework. It comes in the form of lists. Daily or weekly, farm kids are given lists from their parents and/or grandparents of deliverables they must accomplish. This isn’t just “home” work – this is also barn work, yard work, car work, field work and farm work. This makes a book report sound like, well, a day at the pool.

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Two-a-Days? More Like Twelve-a-Days

Farm kids might participate in fall sports, which kick of two-a-day practices during summer break. But farm kids don’t get much of a rest in between these two-a-days, because when they’re not at practice they can be found baling hay, cleaning out the barn, carrying buckets, building fence, cleaning out and bedding stalls, and more. So they might participate in two-a-day practices, but their hardest workout actually begins when they leave the gym.

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Farm kids understand early in life the value of hard work because once their two-and-a-half month shift of hard labor is finally over, it’s time to go back to school.

Happy summer “break” to all the farm kids out there.

We’re glad to have you home!

 

 

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Save the Date: Fueling Freedom

One of our favorite days of the year is approaching!

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Fueling Freedom will take place this year on Friday, June 23 from noon to 5 p.m. There are 38 CountryMark fueling stations participating in this year’s fundraising activity.

Harvest Land’s participating locations are Greenfield, Elwood, Fountaintown and Greenville, Ohio. 

For every gallon of fuel pumped during the event, CountryMark and Harvest Land will donate 50 cents to the local National Guard Family Readiness Group. More than 20DSC_0032 National Guard Family Readiness Groups will benefit from Fueling Freedom in 2017!

100% of the proceeds from Fueling Freedom will go to support local National Guard Family Readiness Groups. Family Readiness Groups fund activities for troops and their families. Many of the groups use their funds to host summer picnics, hold Christmas dinners, send packages to deployed soldiers, and offer after-school programs for children of American soldiers.

Our National Guard troops defend our country and our citizens every day. Through Fueling Freedom, we want them to know how much we appreciate what they do for us. DSC_0011

 

 

This is the 9th year the CountryMark system has hosted Fueling Freedom events.

 

 

 

In 2016, CountryMark’s Fueling Freedom program raised more than $64,000 for local National Guard Family Readiness Groups, a record-breaking year.

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We encourage everyone to come out for Fueling Freedom, purchase CountryMark TOP TIER gasoline and premium diesel fuel, and register to win a $150 fuel card.

One fuel card will be given away at each CountryMark fueling station participating in Fueling Freedom.

Show your patriotism and plan on fueling up at one of our CountryMark stations – Greenfield, Elwood, Fountaintown or Greenville, Ohio – on Friday, June 23 from noon to 5 p.m.!

 

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Business Plan: Early and Often

How many questions can enter the minds of family members when the discussion regarding a farm succession plans begins?

Well, here are a few quick ones that crossed our minds:

  • Do mom and dad have any actual plan for the future of our farm?
  • How long until dad actually lets me make some decisions around here?
  • What if the daughter-in-law doesn’t stick around?
  • Are we all working towards the same goals of the farm?
  • How could I ever afford to buy the farm if mom and dad sell it for top market value to pay for their retirement?
  • How will my farm salary (sweat equity) compare to my sister who only does book work and financials?
  • Why should my brother have any say in the future of the farm when he lives two states away…in town!
  • Will it take a death before the farm succession plan is actually revealed?

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Farm succession planning is certainly not easy, nor is it fun. There is raw emotion, stress, tension and expectations. We get it. Many of our employees and members have experienced being part of a farm succession plan, and agree that it is a tough conversation to have.

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This week we wanted to highlight one farm family that has taken the bull by the horns and included the children in the future of the family farm years now. The expectations for each child is high, but so is the reward. The Powells are Harvest Land farmer-members in west-central Ohio.

We admire their business plan to include the children of the farm early and often.

The remainder of this entry is written by Haleigh Powell and can be found online at Ohio Farmer

Don’t wait too long to pass it on

By Haleigh Powell

Gaylord Nelson, co-founder of Earth Day, once said, “The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

I am Haleigh Powell, and I’m 18 years old and part owner in a family farm operation in west-central Ohio. You may be thinking, “Where is your grandpa, daddy or uncle, and why are they letting you own part of the business?” The answer is they believe in the younger generation, and they want to train, equip and enable me to be responsible and run my own business.

As farmers, we disagree on the little things, how far apart to plant our rows, how to integrate the latest technology, what the perfect time is to plant — and the list goes on. One thing all farmers want and can agree on is the desire to see the next generation take over the farm. For many of us, farming is more than a way to make a living (if we really wanted to make money, we would go work for the EPA). For us; farming is a way of life. However, most farmers do not know how to pass on the responsibilities of running the farm to the next generation. They keep control of the farm, even when they can no longer participate in the daily activities required to run it.

Two things are wrong with this scenario:

• The older farmers are nervous about the future of a business they have invested their lives in, and this causes them to hesitantly view the next generation. This restricts the next generation’s opportunities to manage, plan and run the business.

• The younger generations are losing interest in farming because they know their chances of being able to run the farm are very small.

The whole point of raising up the next generation of farmers is to teach those who will come after us how to raise crops, manage an agriculture business and plant soybeans at just the right time to ensure optimum growth.

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Learning young
Growing up on the farm, in a family of seven children, my dad taught us responsibility from a very young age. We started out raising and selling produce throughout the surrounding small Midwestern Ohio towns. Even though we were so young, my father expected us to be responsible and run our little business like corporate professionals. Assisting through financial, managerial, employee and logistics issues we faced throughout the life of our business, my father always taught us how to be better professionals in the future. Whenever we made the mistake of giving a customer too much change or breaking yet another piece of equipment, my father used these little accidents as life’s teaching moments.

We eventually retired from the produce industry and went into grain farming. At the time, my grandpa was retiring, and he gave his grandchildren the opportunity to work together once again. This time we worked together growing and selling grain instead of vegetables.

My father gave us the opportunity to learn how to work and make money. This money was invaluable to us later in life when we wanted to start other businesses or invest in our farming business. My grandpa gave us the opportunity to farm his land; he trusted us because we had proven ourselves trustworthy through our hard work, ambition and willingness to learn. We have all realized that when the older generation takes the time to invest in the younger generation, more than just money is made: Memories are created, relationships are strengthened, and traditions are passed on.

Next generation’s worth
Like anything in life, letting go of something we have worked and lived with for so long is hard and, in many cases, takes time to adjust to. The next generation of farmers must prove themselves worthy of the farm, worthy of taking control and responsible for making the family farm better. Just like the younger generation must prove themselves, the older generation must be willing to pass the farm on.

Today, I work alongside my older and younger siblings to analyze, integrate and use the latest agriculture technology. Our goal as a company is to be constantly learning and using our knowledge to make us better farmers. We attend seminars, field days, Farm Science Reviews and webinars to learn more about variable-rate planting, spraying techniques and cost tracking accounting methods. We have a desire to learn and an urge to make the business better and bigger because we know our actions directly relate to how well our business does. Because we are farm owners now and not hired hands, we desire excellence in our fields, yields and technology.

Powell Family Farms is a partnership, formed in 2011 by two generations. We farm around 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. Our goal is to stay on the cutting edge of technology and go the extra mile to make our fields yield more while replenishing the natural resources found in the soil. Together, we strive to learn and grow our knowledge of the agriculture world.

Powell is from Arcanum, and attends Liberty University’s business school.

 

 

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