It's more than just school pride that ties these three young farmers together.
Three different farmers, and one special bond. It’s more than just their Bearcat pride that ties these three friends together. It’s their passion for farming and their plans to return home.
Coming back to the family farm can be a tough transition, but if you know others in the same situation, it can make things a little easier. For Josh Lammert, Zach Lynch and Nathan Whitehead, being just college buddies is turning into a peer network, helping each find their niche on the farm.
"I really want to keep finding ways to bring new things to the operation, not just live off ‘well, my dad was a successful farmer, so I’ll just follow his footsteps," says Treynor, Iowa, farmer Josh Lammert.
From row crops to cattle to construction, each of these farmers has their own mix. Fresh out of college with a full year of farming under their belts, some manage employees and some are still the family gopher, but each are trying to earn respect by brining fresh ideas to the operation.
"I come up with a lot of ideas, and throw a lot of them at both Dad and Grandpa," admits Zach Lynch, who farms in Redding, Iowa. "It’s sifting through what’s going to work, and when it’s going to work, I think."
"West of the bluffs, they’ve had them (pivot irrigation) on the Missouri bottoms, no one’s ever tried it over here," says Nathan Whitehead, who farms and runs equipment with his father near Sidney, Iowa. "We have a whole water reservoir that goes right through here."
"This year we’re actually moving to 20 inch rows," Lammert says. "We’re the only farm in the area that’s doing that."
The knowledge and friendships each gained attending Northwest Missouri State is coming in handy. But it’s the experience that’s proving to be most valuable.
"Upgrading the land that you’ve got, making it more efficient, getting more off the acres you have, because it’s so expensive to purchase new ground," Lynch says.
While snow drifts lined fence rows and ditches in early February, 2012 was an extremely challenging year for all three farmers because it was so dry. They know that drought is one they will never forget; however, they also know there are many more challenging times that line the road ahead.
"Right now, I’m trying to make sure that our balance sheets can handle the coming of $3 or $4 corn again, because it’s going to happen," Lynch says. "It’s just a matter of when."
"My goal is to hopefully get this operation to where it runs on cash," Whitehead says. "That’s my goal someday."
A big goal, but by continuing to be diverse and making smart business decisions, Whitehead thinks it’s possible. It’s also a good goal, considering each farmer knows the business of farming will continue to evolve. With other enterprises to fall back on, like construction and being a seed dealer, these farmers hope they’re prepared to adapt quickly.
"We’re starting to feed cattle a little bit and try to get our feet wet that way," Lammert says. "Margins are bad feeding cattle, and people are trying to get out of it. We’re trying to get into it. It could turn around in a heartbeat."
From a focus at home to gaining a global perspective, having a view broader than just what they can see from the cab of their tractor, will hopefully set each apart.
"Cope with outside influences," Lynch says. "What’s China going to do, what regulations are you going to have coming down the pipe that you’re going to have to deal with."
In these young farmers’ eyes, knowing the business side will continue to grow in importance, as they grow in the shadow of a family legacy.