What’s the best advice you can offer a beginning farmer or rancher?

To succeed as a farmer, remember one word: research.

Whatever you need to do, do your homework first. What does that pertain to? Soil test. Don’t waste your money on fertilizer you don't need. Selling grain? Check your accessible elevators. Figure in your time and fuel to deliver and storage cost, not just the per bushel price. Buying machinery? Check both auctions and dealers. Find out hours used, year bought and condition for auction items. Was it shedded? The county agent and North Dakota State University Research Station can help with grain trials. Call the available lenders for rates and guidelines before choosing where to get a loan. These are examples. Before you make any decision, think it through, read, ask questions, compare.

Lona Lutz
Northern Plains Electric Cooperative


I have the utmost respect for America’s farmers and ranchers. They feed our nation and drive the economy forward. It is a career of hard work, many setbacks and tremendous stress. Farmers and ranchers are the staple of a well-rounded community, and I take pride in coming from a state and a family filled with both.

I called both my grandparents to ask what advice they would give a beginning farmer or rancher. One is a farmer; one is a rancher. They both have been doing this hard work for decades. Both of them had somewhat similar, but different, things to say.

“Get help from someone who is experienced,” said my grandpa, Jerry. He went on to say that farming is a “tough” profession to just hop into, and many people, including himself, “need an established family.” He went on to talk about how it’s hard to raise enough capital and how costly farming is, but he highlighted it is a rewarding profession. The lesson from Jerry, the farmer, is getting help from experienced farmers is the key to beginning or taking over an operation.

“It’s a wave up and down,” said my other grandpa, Guy. He has operated a ranch for many years. He said, “There are good years and not good years … but it always comes out in the middle.” He continued to describe how the rain, markets, weather and health can all influence the operation of a ranch. He described how it’s important to have perspective when operating the ranch, while still being mindful of your operation. The lesson from Guy, the rancher, is maintain perspective and know that every year is different.

Overall, for beginning farmers or ranchers, it is important to get help from those with experience, maintain your perspective, and know your outcomes will change from year to year. As Grandpa Guy said, “There are good years and not good years.”

Will Nelson
Parents are member of Northern Plains Electric Cooperative


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