My wife Chrissy and I– along with our children Caleb, Elijah and Natalie Ann– own Furnace Hill Holsteins, a 170-cow dairy made up entirely of Holsteins, most of which are registered. My father, Tom, does all of the crop work on the 115 tillable acres, along with most of the night milking and Shirley, my mother, helps feed calves and babysits too. We have three other full time employees that are a part of our team. We have been with Land O' Lakes since my dad bought the farm in 1987.
Initially I came back because I really enjoy working with Holsteins, especially in the aspect of genetics, which continues to be exciting through genomics. The lifestyle of working at home, with my family, has probably become the biggest reason now along with working outside, in God's creation, and witnessing His goodness every day.
There is development around the area, although we don't feel pressure as much as some farmers do, and we have been blessed with great neighbors that understand agriculture very well. If there is any pressure it is the price of land for farming, which often reaches or exceeds $20,000 per acre, and rarely is available for purchase, which is challenging as I try to grow our dairy herd.
With the hustle of life, and a growing family and business, trying to find the balance between faith, family and farming is tricky. But as a young farmer with young children, getting involved in agriculture and sharing our voice is critical for my generation. Our children will live have to live with the decisions made today.
For agriculture as a whole I believe Farm Bureau is the best grassroots organization at keeping the lines of communication open with legislators. We do this through in-person contacts, inviting lawmakers to farm tours and interacting with them at our Annual Meeting. It’s important for farmers that when we receive an action request from Farm Bureau, that we make a quick reponse and contact our elected officials.
Despite the seemingly never ending regulation and consumer "trends," at the end of the day people still need to eat, so it comes down to individual success and qualities like keeping a positive attitude, being honest and transparent, working hard, being humble, asking to gain understanding, and working together with people, neighbors, legislatures, consumers etc. No matter what the future may hold there is comfort and optimism when you know God has the future in his hands and trust that He will never leave you or forsake you.
Probably the main reason is the people and the friendships I have gained, but also because I believe in what Farm Bureau stands for and want to support this organization the best I can.