Published: September 23, 2011
by Clay Masters
In farm country, business is still booming. Commodity prices remain high, and investors are funneling millions of dollars into buying farmland, making it quite enticing for the would-be farmer who wants to leave the rat race.
But surprisingly, these factors make it that much harder for the next generation of farmers to secure the financing they need to get on the tractor.
A High Cost To Start Out
Austin Bruns drives with his windows down on a dirt country road in a noisy 18-wheeler. He’s towing tons of corn and has a little more than a five o’clock shadow, hinting at long days of an early harvest. “When I graduated from high school, I didn’t really have my sights set on anything; I knew I didn’t have any [land] that I was going to come home and farm,” Bruns explains. So Bruns went to school to become a diesel mechanic and later joined the National Guard. Today, the 25-year-old rents about 150 acres in eastern Nebraska, where he grows soybeans and corn. Bruns also works for area farmers who contract with agriculture giant Monsanto to grow seed corn. In these fields, the entire ear of corn is harvested for a nearby seed facility to use to develop next year’s seed.
Come harvest time, farmers here band together to share their equipment. Veteran farmer Mark Haser says that just makes sense. “You just can’t afford to own everything yourselves anymore,” Haser says. “It’s your cost per acre. The initial cost is so high that you have to be able to spread this stuff out over more and more acres to make it worthy of being able to have it.”