Lawain Biermann applies his farmer know-how to his career as a farm manager. He’s in the fourth generation of Biermanns to farm their family’s homeplace in eastern Iowa. He also has childhood memories of seeing his farmer father sitting at the kitchen table talking to a farm manager he was a operator for.
His professional abilities to advocate for his landowner clients while seeing the farmer’s perspective makes him stand out and be recognized as the 2019 Farm Manager of the Year.
“I often have landowners ask, ‘What would you do?’” Biermann says. “In this profession, we are the problem solvers; we gather information so that owners can make informed decisions.”
Biermann has worked for Hertz Farm Management for 26 years. He says the core of the business has not changed, but the interactions with owners and operators have changed drastically.
“My goal is to respond to a client phone call or email within 24 hours. This may be difficult at times, but timely communication is very important for client retention,” he says.
Biermann was a crop specialist with a cooperative for two years before transitioning to farm management, and he says that agronomic foundation is helpful today.
“We have a lot of information to help owners make sense of,” Biermann says. He notes that analyzing the data and communicating the opportunities can help gain 5 bu. or 7 bu. Over time, he’s seen these incremental gains add up to 50 bu. or more.
Biermann organizes yearly farm tours with owners and operators.
Although he says there is still a spectrum of landowners in terms of their goals and communication styles, he sees one area for growth in the future.
“We’re seeing a generation who saw their parents farm, but they have chosen other careers, so they acknowledge they don’t have the expertise to run it,” he says. “After we had the strong increase in commodity prices, many families liquidated their land. The landowners that remain are very invested in retaining ownership, and we have an opportunity to assist them.”