Texas Farmer Forms Mentoring Partnership With Five Employees

03:59PM Nov 11, 2019
hand shake deal_2
“I’ve been thinking about something like this for years, because my employees are part of what has made my business successful,” Kimbrell says. “And I wanted to have them be able to share in the ownership of it.”
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It sounds like the pitch of a reality show: follow along in real-time as an established farmer works to help launch the careers of five aspiring farmers. 
But for west Texas farmer Casey Kimbrell, it’s not TV show, it’s his reality. 

In October, Kimbrell shared his plan on Twitter—where he will share ongoing updates. 

While he says he’s still ironing out all of the details, for 2020, he’s structured a share deal where each of the five will farm a portion of the 6,000 acres he built into a business with his wife, Annie. 

As Kimbrell says, “She has helped me get to this point. I'm the one who is jumping off into new ideas, and she is the conservative one who encourages me to slow down and think things through, which has always been good advice. When my crazy ideas are acceptable to her, I always know I'm on the right track.”
The terms of the deal include land rent, in-season decisions, and sharing equipment. 

Here's an interview Kimbrell did with AgriTalk: 

Opportunity for employees. “I’ve been thinking about something like this for years, because my employees are part of what has made my business successful,” Kimbrell says. “And I wanted to have them be able to share in the ownership of it.” 

One of the five participants is Kimbrell’s son, who will be the sixth generation in the Kimbrell family to farm. The other four are employees of Kimbrell’s ranging in tenure from 15 years to three months. Of those four, two have no direct farming roots, and two have farming roots with family in Mexico—but will be first generation U.S. farmers.

In brainstorming this idea over time, Kimbrell was committed to finding a way for the farmers to have “skin in the game,” to provide a sense of responsibility and ownership. Kimbrell says at first, the structure will be weighted for him to carry more risk, and in kind, he’ll still be guiding more of the decisions. 

“I think this is helping them take a baby step by holding a lot of that risk back, and while that's going to hold back some of their potential, it will make it much more manageable for them,” he says. 

Speaking from experience. “When I started farming, I started off in much of the same way—with nothing,” Kimbrell says. “I took out an FHA loan, and in the classes I took of the 15 farmers getting started, I’m the only one of those guys still in business.” 

Starting a business is never easy and giving up the reigns on acres you’ve built up isn’t easy either. 

“I told these guys, they may go broke. And if they're like me, the first 10 years I farmed, I spent every idle moment trying to figure out what I was going to do when I went bankrupt,” he says. “But there are big rewards if it works out. I hope it works out for them and me both.”
 

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