Quite possibly better educated and prepared than any generation before them, young producers still face major challenges in getting off the ground. For this FarmLife Special Report, we asked several young farmers about their challenges and goals, then listened as each spoke of hard lessons learned, their passion for farming and hopes for the future.
Three families are featured in profile stories and video interviews: the Skobergs, who grow peas, wheat and canola on Twin Oaks Farm in Lougheed, Alberta; the Robertses, who farm and run a fencing and custom gate business in Pittsylvania County, Virginia; and the Boeres, whose dairy operation is in Modesto, California. Each has a unique story to tell, including the innovative ways they have made a life and a living on the farm.
To go along with the family profiles, the Young Farmers Special Report includes advice from parents, resources to help young and new farmers, a look back at our previous special report and more.
In the article “Raising Farmers,” father Jerry McDonald and son Jon—now a father himself—offer advice on preparing the next generation for a career in agriculture. You’ll also read about how the National Young Farmers Coalition works to connect beginning farmers with resources, such as information on loans and subsidies.
See the entire special report, including video interviews: Young Farmers: Growing Their Future And Ours
Brian Fuller plows snow and maintains right-of-ways, the kind of work that is often not seen and/or noticed by most of us. It’s hot, it’s freezing. It’s mind-numbingly tedious. It’s treacherous. And, yes, it’s often overlooked, until he and his crew at Fuller Landscaping clear the way for the rest of us, who might just be stranded otherwise.
Fuller and his crew, who primarily work for the city of Fort Collins, Colo., and the state’s Department of Transportation, have encountered rattlesnakes, cars and trucks piloted by drivers who are texting, and very steep hills. Altogether, it’s a diversified bundle of services that keeps him and up to 10 workers employed.
He accomplishes his tasks on the job, on his ranch and on others’ land where he custom bales with several Massey Ferguson® tractors—an MF2605, MF4608 and MF4610 with a cab. Fuller says they perform equally well in each of the ways he uses them.
Again, it’s that combination of services and an industriousness that keeps him and his employees busy throughout the year. It is, however, a fiercely competitive market in which he operates.
“A lot of these guys come in, they low bid this stuff, these contracts, just to get their foot in the door. But they don’t know what it’s about, and [after] about a year to two years and they’re gone.
“I go out and I buy good equipment,” continues Fuller. “I spend the money. For me, to be able to do this 20 years later and still be in it really says something.”
And when asked what else differentiates his company from others in the business, he replies simply, “I think it’s me—I’m at almost every job site … and I think it’s my name. I’m using my last name as the name of the company.” When something’s not done right, he says, it’s pretty obvious who’s responsible.
See the full story and video: Scape & Scrape: Working In Extreme Weather
What do White Pines and World War II relationships have in common? They’ve both been carefully cultivated by Paul Sailer. Since 1983, Sailer has been successfully planting and harvesting those white pines, Norway pines, balsam firs, eastern larches, white spruces and black spruces on his 85-acre tree farm in Wadena County, Minn.
In addition to harvesting the trees, Sailer has also made good use of the paper they produce by writing historical nonfiction books about fighter pilots flying missions over France and Germany. His latest effort, “I Had a Comrade,” is a study of the lives of the men, their families and even the people caught in the crossfires of battle in Europe.
Sailer came by both vocations honestly. He planted trees on his father’s farm as a boy, and heard many war stories from those who lived it. “My father served with the Eighth Air Force in England during World War II,” he says. “Sitting with me and my siblings on a winter’s night, he would talk about his war experiences while showing us his scrapbook and memorabilia.”
Sailer says he also saw through veterans’ eyes how the war affected rural families. “Many of the young men and women who served in the military and in defense plants came from farming and ranching country. Few returned to rural America.”
After college, Sailer enlisted in the U.S. Army. He flew helicopters for a year in Vietnam. Back home, he’s had a long career in the human services field … and tree farming.
Today, he uses a Massey Ferguson® 2605 and its many attachments for mowing trails, creating fire breaks, removing large rocks, lifting logs and clearing snow in the winter. And while studying the war lives of the Greatest Generation remains a passion, when the weather permits, a perfect evening now is, he says, “Enjoying a cup of coffee with my wife on the front porch of our home as a gentle breeze whispers through the trees we planted all those years ago.”
See the full story and order the book at http://myFarmLife.com/sailer.
“All the farm work, from tillage and weed control to cultivating and the planting process, is done with the Allis Chalmers 185 tractor,” says Gene Mealhow, owner of Tiny But Mighty popcorn, who farms near Shellsburg, Iowa.
He brags on how the older model tractor still “runs great. We keep the oil changed, and we’ve had to fix hydraulic hoses and put on new tires and a muffler, but even in the winter, it starts fine.”
For a time, he had his neighbors do the harvesting. His small acreage, though, was a problem. “No farmer wants to quit harvesting thousands of acres, change his combine over, come to me and do a five-minute pass through a field to harvest,” says Mealhow.
So he borrowed a neighbor’s 300 Massey Ferguson® combine and does the work himself now. “It worked great so I ended up buying it.” Mealhow says his corn is “an heirloom, ancient old seed, and it seems like this ancient heirloom combine does the best job of cleaning it. Because it is a small-capacity combine, it does a more efficient job harvesting the popcorn seed and cleans our smaller seeds better than a larger combine too.
“When I first got it, there were some parts on it that needed updating—bearings and all of that,” Mealhow notes. He called on K & A Farm Equipment, Inc., in Strawberry Point, Iowa. “I asked them if they had parts and they said, ‘We might be able to put our hands on some. We service about three or four of those.’ They did have all the parts: sickle blades, bearings and just little things. They still maintain a wonderful selection of parts for the older equipment.”
Mealhow readies the combine about one month before harvest begins, checking the oil, filters, hoses, bearings, chains and belts. “You don’t want to go to the field and have it break down,” he says.
See the full story: The Tiny But Mighty Popcorn King.
Challenger’s exclusive Steerable 3-Point Linkage featured on the MT800E will be presented with a Technical Innovation Award at next week’s EIMA International Machinery Show in Bologna (November 12 – 16, 2014). The award, sponsored by FederUnacoma, recognizes companies which have created genuinely innovative machinery, accessories or components with a capacity to improve processes and the quality of operations performed by workers in the [agricultural and gardening] sectors.
Optionally available on all Challenger MT800E series models, including the flagship MT875E, the new steerable hitch design improves turning performance under load and allows the operator to manage how the implement trails the tractor in tillage and row crop applications.
Pivoting on the differential rear axle housing, the new geometry allows for 118mm steering cylinder travel, resulting in more precise control of the hitch lateral position. In addition, steering cylinders now connect at a distance of 389mm (219mm on C-Series models) from the pivot point, boosting the steering torque capability to a new 109,249 Nm (20% more than C-Series models).
The two operating modes are set using the TMC Display. The Manual mode provides for a fixed steering position. The Float mode provides dampening of implement movements and offset draft reduction.
Providing excellent maneuverability for better field contour-following, benefits include: reduced machine stress by dampening implement lateral shocks; a 25% reduction in turning radius with mounted implements; while the reduction in the power necessary for steering the implement helps to reduce slippage by up to 5%.
Product marketing manager Luca Cattani for tracked and articulated tractors is delighted to receive this accolade. “The unique Steerable 3-Point Hitch option is popular in all markets from South Africa to Central Europe where our customers understand and favour Challenger’s competitive advantage in applying 100% power to the ground.”
Find Challenger in Hall 14, stand B3 or at the ‘novità tecnica’ stand located at the “Quadriportico” area within the EIMA show in Bologna.
For more information about Challenger, visit: http://www.challenger-ag.com/EMEA/int-en/default.aspx
More info on the EIMA Show, click here.