Why I chose agriculture
I was raised on a farm in Benton County, Iowa. Our family fed cattle and raised crops, and we also had a few sheep and hogs. My grandparents had a greenhouse and melon business, and as soon as I was old enough, I had either a hoe, pitchfork, or shovel in my hands. My dad’s passion was cattle and he passed that on to me; the cattle side of the farm was always my favorite. I loved growing up on the farm and hoped to figure out a way to be involved with agriculture and raise cattle.
How I prepared myself for agricultural business
After graduating from Iowa State with a degree in Animal Science, I moved to Crookston, Minnesota, to be a feedlot foreman. I had great mentors at Crookston Cattle Company including the owner, the ranch veterinarian and some of the veteran cow hands. I learned from each of them and expanded my knowledge and desire to raise cattle. I was also able to purchase a few cows and own my first pens of finishing cattle. After six years at Crookston Cattle Company, my wife Julie and I moved to a ranch near Blackduck, Minnesota where we managed our own cow herd, fed cattle and raised a variety of crops. We lived there for 12 years before deciding to return to Iowa in 1996 to be closer to family.
Our vision for the operation
When we moved back to Iowa, Julie and I wanted to again own a farm that would be suited for a cow herd, cattle feeding and some crop land. Now that we have a farm that fits our needs, we face the challenges of making improvements and possibly expanding. With the help of our son, Garrett, we are continually improving not only the pastures and crop ground, but the other resources as well: Ponds, timber tracts, and wildlife are very important to us. Our goal is to have a viable operation and a place for the entire family to enjoy for years to come.
What I enjoy most about farming
It’s gratifying being outdoors – working with the cattle, checking crops and making improvements. Now that we have grandchildren, some of my most rewarding moments on the farm have been with them: The chance for them to see a calf born for the first time, the wonder of sitting in a combine as it rolls through a corn field, and helping them catch fish in the ponds.
Why we work with FCSAmerica
I started with FCSAmerica in 1980 when I was still in high school. Over the years I’ve worked with a few loan officers. We wanted a lender who would get to know us and help us grow – we wanted to expand and the support to do so. We felt that FCSAmerica would be the right fit for us, and it has sure proven to be true. Cash-back dividends aren’t the reason we’re with FCSAmerica, but it is one of the components of the whole equation. The cash-back dividends check has been a very pleasant surprise every spring. Everyone we work with at FCSAmerica – financial officers, crop insurance officers, appraisers and the office staff – are knowledgeable and professional. We truly enjoy working with them.
Our greatest challenge
The largest obstacle we faced in putting together our current farming operation was generating enough capital to purchase the land and feeling financially secure in doing so.