In honor of its first-ever special edition dedicated to young farmers, Top Producer spoke with producers from across the U.S. about their business roles, the projects on which they're focused and the opportunities they see ahead. Scott Spohn, 38, of Friend, Neb., is investing in sustainability practices in cooperation with organizations such as Field to Market. He also places a premium on spending time with his family despite having a busy schedule. Top Producer's The Young Farmer Issue mails May 31 to readers.
Your title & key responsibilities in your farm business: Owner and operator with my father, Keith Spohn, at Spohn Farms
Describe one skill you are working to improve upon within your own farm business. Why did you choose to develop this particular skill, and how will you use it?: I am prioritizing spending time with family. On the farm, there is always more work to be done. My children are 10, 8 and 5, but it seems like just yesterday we were bringing them home from the hospital. My goal is to instill a love for agriculture in my children. I want them to love the land and to care for it so that it can provide for our family for many years to come. But I also want my kids to understand that there is nothing more important to me than my family. I’m now more circumspect about the commitments I make that take me away from the farm and my family. I realize this is not a farm business-specific skill, but it’s a pitfall for most producers.
(Download our FREE e-book: 5 Profit Strategies For Young Farmers)
Tell us about one project on your farm in the next 12-18 months that has you excited about the future of your operation and your career path: I am excited to see the advances in technology and farming practices that have enabled me to be more sustainable as a farmer, while continuing to feed the world. One item I am constantly utilizing is Field to Market’s Fieldprint Calculator, which allows me to compare my carbon footprint to that of other producers to ensure I am not using more resources than necessary. To be a successful producer, I want to maximize the output from my fields while continuing to be a good steward of the land. I'm proud to be a fifth-generation farmer providing high-quality corn, seed corn and soybeans to the marketplace. My goal is to implement practices on my family farm to sustain its value for future generations. I want to see my kids and grandkids farming the ground just like my grandpa and great-grandpa did before me.
Quotable: I place a high value on availability of commodity marketing information. Not only has the way we raise crops changed substantially in the past decade, the market's reaction to the global economy has changed, as well. A casual remark on social media can result in a dramatic shift in the market. Political leaders, market analysts and everyday producers all have a role in the price of commodities, whereas U.S. supply and demand previously dominated prices almost exclusively. By having this information at my fingertips, I am able to make informed marketing decisions which, in turn, promotes the sustainability of my farming operation.
Take advantage of our Early Bird discount, which runs through June 9, and attend the 2017 Tomorrow's Top Producer business conference for young farmers July 20-21 in Nashville.