Lee Lubbers, who owns Lubbers Farms Gregory, S.D., was named the 2014 Top Producer of the Year last night at Top Producer Seminar's annual award banquet in Chicago, Ill. Lee operates a 20,000 acre corn, soybean and wheat farm in partnership with his brother Terry.
The Lubbers family has been involved in Dakota agriculture since they immigrated to the area in the 1800s. Lee and his brother, along with their sister Janice, grew up on a growing corn, oats and cane for silage, along with farrowing pigs and custom feeding cattle.
The Lubbers built their equity the old fashioned way – sweat and savings. When they could scrape together enough money they bought old combines and refurbished them. Soon they were in the custom combine business.
It took years to build to their current acreage level. The Lubbers took on any custom farming job they could find and saved and cut living expenses to nearly nothing. "We had a goal," says Lee. "Every available dollar went to into debt reduction and future expansion." They became experts at efficiency, learning how to reduce tractor hours and do their own equipment maintenance.
The Lubbers view landlords as extended family. Lee writes a newsletter three times a year he sends to landlords, bankers and neighbors. He is a member of the Top Producer Executive Network peer group, which allows him to gather with farmers around the country to discuss ideas. One of Lubbers Farms newest ventures is creating a "board" of supporters – which includes their accounting firm, key suppliers, a marketing advisor and peers. The farm uses a custom made enterprise analysis program to analyze fields and crop.
Weather is a challenge for the Lubbers – one year they can be blessed with rain and then the next year it’s a wipeout. The Lubbers call it "Farming on the Fringe". But their toughest challenges have been family related. The Lubbers lost their father in 2009, then 13 months later their sister passed away. The word Legacy has new meaning for the Lubbers these days.
That’s why paying it forward is one of their mottos. The Lubbers sponsor a Make a Wish child every year and support local 4H clubs and other community groups. Lubbers Farms just signed papers on a major project that will bring jobs to the local area.
While their initial goal was to come home to save the farm, the Lubbers now know that farming is what they were born to do.
Learn more about Lubbers Farms:
Thank you to the 2014 Top Producer Seminar sponsors:
Premier Sponsors: Agrigold, Apache Sprayers, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Cargill, Case IH, Challenger, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, ESN, Firestone, Koch Agronomic Services, RCIS, SFP, Syngenta, Top Third Ag Marketing
Co-Sponsors: Advance Trading, CliftonLarsonAllen, The Gulke Group, Kennedy and Coe, Michelin, Novozymes, OPI Integris, Soybean Premiums, Wyffels Hybrids