Find trends and outlooks, education and more on financing rural America from Farm Credit Services of America.

More Content

Side By Side Lesson: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Get better before you get bigger.

These six simple words have shaped the way Brenton and Justine Paxton operate their Wyoming farm and prioritize the needs of their young family. When the couple hears about land opportunities, they step back and ask: Can the two of us manage the additional work without cutting into the quality of our existing operation? Is the extra time required to farm more land worth the sacrifice to our family time?

2015 Side By Side ConferenceBetter before bigger is central to the message Dr. David Kohl -- professor emeritus at Virginia Tech -- delivers to young and beginning producers during FCSAmerica’s annual Side By Side conference. When Brenton and Justine heard Dr. Kohl’s advice during the 2013 Side By Side conference, they had been farming full-time for about five years. They also had two children and were expecting their third.

“It was awesome being at that Side By Side,” Brenton said recently. “It helps you look at your values. What do you really want out of life? Do you really want to run 90 miles an hour and farm 2,000 acres or do you want 1,000 acres and still be able to go on a family vacation or spend time with your kids?”

The Paxtons currently farm 700 acres, growing beets, malt barley, hay and corn in north-central Wyoming. The two of them are able to manage the land with occasional part-time help. But like many young farm couples, they want to continue to grow their operation.  The key will be finding a full-time employee they can depend on to help manage the farm. The lesson of getting better before getting bigger has kept the Paxtons focused on their goals and priorities. More than once, Brenton says, the couple has decided bigger isn’t always better.


Load more comments
Your comment has been received and is being reviewed.

Comments are moderated and reviewed before they are posted on the site. View our terms of use.


Apr 21, 2023 | The Business of Agriculture

Spring 2023 Outlook

Catch up on global stocks, U.S. planting intentions and the latest issues impacting the ag marketing outlook.

Mar 7, 2023 | The Business of Agriculture

Outlooks for Commodities: Market Summaries in 5 Minutes

Our economist, Matt Erickson, looks at how supply and demand is shaping grain and protein markets.

Jan 28, 2023 | The Business of Agriculture

The Latest on Farmland Values

Discover the latest from our January report on benchmark farmland values and the forces shaping the market.

Ready to Talk?

Contact us if you have questions or need more information. Fill out the form, or connect with your local office using the Office Locator.

FCSAmerica serves farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. For inquiries outside this geography, use the Farm Credit Association Locator  to contact your local office.