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Family Matters: Meet the Bartak Clan

January 8, 2014
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor

More hands equals big success


Twin brothers plus six sons plus three employees put this Anselmo, Neb., farm in a position to expand. The Bartaks have capitalized on the opportunity. They’ve managed to bring their sons into the mix while adding acres and cattle.

It’s rare to find the entire Bartak clan together, but if you do, hold on. You will quickly be engulfed by an intense energy parallel to that of a rock concert and a level of enthusiasm that can only be

created by the dynamics of one big family working together and living out their dream.

Twin brothers, Joel and Bruce Bartak, along with their six sons, Adam, Evan, Zach, Blake, Jeff and Tyler, comprise Bartak Brothers Inc. Together they raise cattle, corn, soybeans, hay and alfalfa on their central Nebraska farm. A purposeful growth strategy, smart business decisions, strong communication skills and a lot of hard work has allowed two generations to seamlessly work together and prosper.

Starting Strong. In agriculture, timing can be everything. At the foot of the Nebraska Sandhills, the Bartaks’ roots run deep. In 1916, Joel and Bruce’s grandfather bought his first piece of ground in Custer County. It wasn’t until 1980 that Joel and Bruce began their farming careers on that same sandy soil.

"When we started, we didn’t have much debt," Joel says. "We went into the 1980s with a lot of opportunity. There were a lot of guys who started five years ahead of us who didn’t make it. Our dad always said it’s better to be lucky than smart."

The twins’ sons have also been able to start their careers during agriculture’s good times.

"The boys coming back to the farm has been driven by profitability," Joel says. "The last few years have been as good as I’ve ever seen."

These money-making times have allowed the Bartaks to steadily grow their operation to provide enough income to continue folding sons into the operation. Anselmo, Neb., the Bartaks’ tiny hometown, is perfectly situated between prime pasture ground and corn-growing country.

"We’re in a really good position because we are located on the end of the farm ground and have the Sandhills to the north of us," Joel explains. "We’ve had two options to grow—crops and cattle. We could expand in both directions, and that’s exactly what we’ve done."

In total, the Bartaks’ operation includes 1,300 cow-calf pairs, 15,000 grazing acres and 6,000 crop acres. Due to the area’s dry climate, the Bartaks irrigate 85% of their crop acres, as well as a small portion of their grazing acres.

Expanding the cattle herd has been the best way to grow in recent years. Each of the sons and the hired hands own a portion of the herd.

This means everyone has an invested interest. It also means everyone gets a share of the work, which guarantees lots of family bonding time. Adam Bartak, 28, says working with his family has its ups and downs, especially when cattle are part of the mix.

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FEATURED IN: Top Producer - January 2014

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