The New Crop: Friendship Turns to Peer Network

February 28, 2013 07:25 AM
The New Crop: Friendship Turns to Peer Network

These college buddies are back home and farming with family. But their friendship is now more of a network, helping each find their place in their own operation. This network is one that seems to come quite naturally. There's nothing forced or structured about it.

"Stuck in line at the elevator, just give them a call and see what's going on," says Josh Lammert, who farms in Treynor, Iowa.

"No, it's not planned," comments Redding, Iowa, farmer Zach Lynch.

This peer network consists of three farmers, all on distinct paths: "Cattle guy (Lynch), seed guy (Lammert) and farmer," says Nathan Whitehead, who farms in Sidney, Iowa.

"I think we all have a different game plan; there's no one-size-fits-all for coming back and growing," Lynch says.

There's one common theme that interlocks these three friends together.

"We're all centralized in farming," Whitehead says. "But we all still have our little niches we like to do."

It's creating and growing that nice' that hasn't always gone as planned. That presents the biggest challenge going into their second full-year of farming.

"Being 23 and 24 years old, you don't exactly have control of the purse strings to do what you want when you come back," Lynch says. "So, it's fine between the three of us to talk about what we'd like to do, and this would be nice, but convincing Dad and Grandpa that's the thing to do isn't always as easy."

For each of these young Iowa producers, it hasn't been the straight path they thought they'd take upon returning home from college. But the neat part is, that's where they rely on each other too.

"It's a lot easier to talk to someone you're familiar with," Lynch says. "I don't see why I'd have to go anywhere else to talk about things or find the operation."

With each operation looking to possibly grow, a helpful tool is talking to someone who's already been in that seat.

"We're looking at a grain leg," Lammert says. "So, I was asking him (Whithead) how many semis do I need to have one combine or two combines going. We have one right now, but we're borderline getting a second one. So, kind of picking his brain on that."

The friendship part of their relationship is not only valued, but respected by each of them.
"We're not really competitors either," Lammert says. "We're far enough away that we aren't fighting with each other over ground, and we're in the same stage of life.

And a healthy dose of friendly competition keeps things interesting.

"He (Zach) always joked about his area having tough acres, and we're like 'it can't be that bad, it can't be that bad,'" Lammert explains. "So, we did plots this year down there on some of his farms. When you win a corn plot with 67 bu. per acre, you realize it actually was tough."

"His beans beat all of us, though," Whitehead says. "His bean yields were great."

The support for each other is evident. Josh is a new seed dealer, and both Nathan and Zach have started purchasing their seed through him. They say it's easier to ask business questions of someone you know and trust.

"We're also good enough friends you can ask them things and not be nosey," Lammert says. "It's an open book system."

All three see this network maintaining its friendly, yet trusting feel.

"As long as our seed dealer doesn't screw us over, we should be all right," says Whitehead as all three break out into laughter.

The boys try to find the humor in every situation, but all three know tough times are ahead. And that's when their bond could be put to the true test.

"I think the best thing will be in five years when times are really hard, and you don't know what you're' doing, and thinking 'I don't know how we're going to make this work," Whitehead says. "You've got two other guys going through the same thing; we'll be able to help each other out."

Even though these three farmers don't know what's on the horizon, it's comforting to know they aren't on the path alone.


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