Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Facts and figures
 The business of agriculture
 The science of agriculture
 Education: The future of agric...
 Government serving agriculture
 Back Cover

Group Title: Americans in agriculture
Title: Americans in agriculture : portraits of diversity
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086054/00001
 Material Information
Title: Americans in agriculture : portraits of diversity
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: United States Department of Agriculture
Place of Publication: Washington, D. C.
Publication Date: 1990
General Note: 1990 yearbook of agriculture
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00086054
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
    Table of Contents
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Facts and figures
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
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        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
    The business of agriculture
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
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        Page 99
        Page 100
    The science of agriculture
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
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        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
    Education: The future of agriculture
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
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        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
    Government serving agriculture
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
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    Back Cover
        Page 185
Full Text

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by Clayton Yeutter
Secretary of Agriculture

The United States is blessed with abundant resources
and excellent technology to help us lead the world in agri-
culture. But the richest resource of American agriculture is
its people-over 20 million men and women whose talent and
effort drive the abounding productivity of our food and
agriculture industry.
They seek out the best wheat varieties, select the
healthiest livestock, and find the best packaging for cut
flowers. They develop a system to grow food in space. They
look for ways to cure-or prevent-diseases in plants,
animals, and humans. They find exciting new ways to teach
young people.
The initiative, creativity, and plain hard work of these
millions of people are the key to our efficiency and our
ability to compete in the world marketplace.
This book will introduce its readers to dozens of the
dedicated people involved in America's greatest industry-
food and agriculture. But readers must remember that these
few are only representative of the millions more who work
in our food and fiber sector. In our complex society many
people today still hold a simple and limited view of
agriculture-perhaps a barn and silo along the road, or
planting and harvesting a crop, or getting up early to milk
the cows.
The American food and agriculture industry today is this
and much more. It encompasses thousands of agribusiness
firms and millions of people who process, deliver, and sell
food and other products for domestic and global customers.
It involves institutions and people who provide credit,
machinery, and information; scientists contributing to
greater bounty with less environmental impact; people who
teach agriculture and people who study agriculture. Our
industry supports an economic system that is truly the envy
of the world.
If American agriculture is anything, it is diverse, and it is
this diversity we celebrate in Americans in Agriculture.
American farmers produce hundreds of different crops
and dozens of breeds of livestock on a countryside that
ranges from lush pasture lands to deserts, huge plains to
high mountains, and vast rural areas to suburbia. Our farm
families spring from differing ethnic backgrounds, work
successfully in every imaginable kind of farming structure,
and have a unique combination of entrepreneurial genius
and managerial skill.

I salute all Americans in agriculture-farmers,
processors, marketers, scientists, educators, our own
government officials, and consumers.
Special congratulations go to everyone associated with
the 1890 Institutions (the historically black land-grant
colleges). The 1990 Yearbook helps to celebrate the
centennial of these institutions, which for 100 years have
served agriculture through teaching, research, and
extension. They are doing ever more important work today,
and several "portraits of diversity" in this Yearbook are
written by the faculty of these fine institutions.
To the young people reading this book-and to others who
enjoy a challenge-I invite you to join the food and
agriculture industry. It's a great place to work!
Agriculture abounds with good opportunities: Exciting
careers to help sustain our international competitiveness;
marketing opportunities in a global trading environment;
efforts to ensure an abundant and healthy food supply;
finding industrial uses for farm products; producing food
and fiber in an environmentally sensitive way while still
providing a fair return for farmers and others in the food
chain. The profiles of workers in this book will provide ideas
on how you can participate in this country's largest indus-
It is critical to understand the diversity of American
agriculture and how it influences our daily lives-whether or
not we work in agriculture or live on a farm. Agriculture
needs and merits the support and understanding of all
Americans, and the diverse portraits in this Yearbook are
designed to show the American public just what agriculture
is all about in 1990.



by Deborah Takiff Smith
Yearbook Editor

The 1990 Yearbook is about the people of American
agriculture-their jobs, their lives, their goals, and their
Abraham Lincoln called the U.S. Department of
Agriculture "the people's department," and it still is.
The 1990 Yearbook of Agriculture introduces several
dozen interesting people who work in U.S. agriculture. They
are only a few, but they represent more than 20 million
Americans who work in the U.S. food and fiber system-a
system that provides the food, fabric, forests, and other
goods that we need every day. It also introduces a few
representatives of the many Americans who teach and study
Americans in agriculture are a diverse group. They
pursue farming, business, science, education, and
government service. They include the farmers who grow
wheat and wood, broccoli and beef, hay and horses,
carnations and Christmas trees. They also include the rural
banker, the food safety researcher, the high school
agriculture teacher, and the Extension worker helping
farmers raise livestock or vegetables.
People are the essence of any enterprise. These stories
and portraits of real working people, representing the
essence of U.S. agriculture, make agriculture immediate to
the reader as they describe their current jobs, how they got
where they are, and their aspirations, problems, and
satisfactions. Their stories should help farm and nonfarm
readers come face-to-face with the realities of U.S.
agriculture today.
Part I, Facts and Figures, provides an overview of who
works in the U.S. food and fiber sector, and key facts about
American farmers, farms, and farmworkers.
Part II, Farming, introduces farmers from dozens of
States from New England to the West Coast, and from the
Deep South to the Midwest. These men and women raise all
sorts of crops and livestock, farming full time and part time.
They have small farms and large farms. They work alone, or
with big staffs, or with a spouse or other family members.
They live near town or far away. They own their land or
rent it or work as employees for others. They are young and
old, and come from varied ethnic backgrounds. They have
different kinds of families and different approaches to
farming. Some participate in Government farm programs;
many do not.

Part II introduces-
*An ex-city dweller who raises goats in Candor, NY
*A farm family who grow vegetables organically in
*The operator of a huge agricultural enterprise in
California's Imperial Valley
*A black farm family in Arkansas that grows and
markets fruits and vegetables
*Grain farmers from Kansas, Illinois, and Ohio
*A couple from Mexico who left the migrant stream to
prune apple trees over the winter
Their stories reveal something of what farmers are up
against-the insects, the weather, the markets, the plain
hard work involved in producing food and other agricultural
products-as well as the satisfactions that some farmers get
from their livelihood and lifestyles.
Beyond production agriculture, the business of
agriculture employs about 16 million Americans who
provide the inputs, processing, wholesaling, retailing,
banking, and other business functions of agriculture.
Part III, The Business of Agriculture, introduces-
*A small-town banker in Kansas
*A 25-year-old pilot who, with her husband, dusts rice
and other crops in Texas
*A family of wholesale produce marketers from
*A food technologist who is developing new products in
Science and education are crucial to American
agriculture if it is to retain its cutting edge in technology
and competitiveness. Part IV, The Science of
Agriculture, tells the stories of several scientists delving
into the mysteries of how nature works, including-
*Forest Service researchers who are studying wildlife
and their habitats
*The inventor of "fluffy cellulose," which improves the
fiber content of food while using a farm byproduct
*A veterinarian who is helping to conquer brucellosis
*A team of microbiologists who are working to ensure
food safety
Education in agriculture is a never-ending process from
elementary school to adult education. Part V, Education:
The Future of Agriculture, presents a few of the millions
of Americans studying in such programs as Ag in the
Classroom, 4-H, FFA, high school agriculture classes,
colleges and universities, the Cooperative Extension
System, and Walt Disney World in Florida.


Government workers-local, State, and Federal-play an
important role in supporting agriculture, and many of them
depend on the active support of volunteers to be effective.
A few of the portraits included in Part VI, Government
Serving Agriculture, include-
*A supervisor from USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline
*The South Dakota State entomologist
*Forest Service volunteers
*Extension workers in Mississippi, South Carolina, and
The 1990 Yearbook offers a special salute to the 1890
Institutions (the historically black land-grant universities),
which are celebrating their centennial this year. One
chapter traces the history of these institutions, and other
chapters in each part of the Yearbook help celebrate the
centennial by featuring teachers, researchers, Extension
workers, students, and graduates of the 1890 Institutions.
A special note to young people reading this book, and to
those who want a new challenge: Agriculture is a good place
to work. Even though the number of farming jobs is
declining, career opportunities beckon in other areas of
agriculture, such as science and engineering, finance,
marketing, and exporting. I hope that this look at the
diverse careers in agriculture will inspire people to consider
the opportunities for men and women, rural and urban.
They may find their niche while helping to meet some
challenges agriculture faces: how to provide an abundant
and healthy food supply while protecting the environment
for future generations, how to safely harness the power of
biotechnology, and how to make U.S. agriculture more
efficient and competitive in the global marketplace.
Agriculture needs the support of the general public. I
hope that these portraits of Americans in agriculture will
help to improve your understanding of agriculture.

The 1990 Yearbook has a different format from that of
previous books. I hope that the new square page will make
the book more appealing and readable, by providing
adequate space for photographs and charts.
The photographs for this yearbook merit special
attention. USDA photographers Perry Rech and Bob Nichols
traveled throughout the United States to take original
portraits of most of the book's farflung subjects, to bring you
face to face with the people featured here.

The members of the 1990 Yearbook Committee, who
helped plan the content and recruit authors, are-
Calvin Beale and Tom Carlin, Economic Research
Service, USDA
Ben Blankenship, Economics Management Staff,
Judith Bowers, Patricia Calvert, and Fred Woods,
Extension Service, USDA
Ruth Coy and Bob Norton, Agricultural Research
Service, USDA
Patrick Casula, Jane Coulter, Howard (Bud) Kerr,
and McKinley Mayes, Cooperative State Research
Service, USDA
John Crowley and Sally Katt, Office of Public Affairs,
USDA and
Samuel Donald, Alcorn State University, Lorman, MS
In addition, John Lee of the Economic Research Service
offered initial suggestions for a book on the diversity of U.S.
agriculture, and Tom Willis of Extension Service helped
prepare the chapters in Part III.

The 1990 Yearbook Production Team members, all with
USDA's Office of Public Affairs, are-
Vincent Hughes, Design Coordinator
Joseph Stanton, Composition Coordinator
Perry Rech and Bob Nichols, Photography
Victor Newman, Cover Designer
Warren Bell and Jim Cecil, Printing Coordinators

Mention of commercial products and organizations in this
publication is solely to provide specific information. It does not
constitute endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture over
other products and organizations not mentioned.



by Clayton Yeutter
Secretary of Agriculture

by Deborah Takiff Smith
Yearbook Editor

Part I: Facts and Figures

1: Agriculture: A Critical U.S. Industry
by T. Alexander Majchrowicz and Mindy Petrulis

2: Who Are America's Farmers?
by Calvin L. Beale

3: The Hired Farm Workforce: Portrait of Diversity
by Victor J. Oliveira

4: Hundreds of Commodities Produced on U.S. Farms
by Donn A. Reimund

5: Profiling the Diversity of America's Farms
Nora L. Brooks and Judith Z. Kalbacher

Part II: Farming

6: Candor, NY: Alternative Farming, Alternative Place
by Alan R. Knight

7: Cliff and Debbie Van Till: A California Family
Finds Out What "Organic" Really Means
by John Stumbos

8: Leroy Werremeyer: Keeping a Record on an Illinois
Grain Farm
by Kevin Erb

9: Randy Teeter: Young Cotton Grower Finds Farming
a Choice Occupation
by Joseph J. Bryant

10: Carroll and Evelyn Kepler: Dairy Farming Where
the Glaciers Parted
by William E. Saupe

11: Joe Jagger: Portrait of a Wheat Farmer
by Carole A. Jordan

iii 12: Grady Auvil: Golden Rule Produces Golden Profits
by Terence L. Day

13: Carmen Jorgensen: Goodwill Ambassador for U.S.
iv Agriculture
by Denice A. G. Gray

14: Grant and Jo Anne Hill: A Part-Time Professional
and a Full-Time Farm Manager
by Howard W. (Bud) Kerr, Jr.
15: Jose Reyes Reyes: Winter Farmwork in Western
New York
6 by Enrique E. Figueroa

16: Berta White: A Lifelong Dedication to Agriculture
9 by Jack King

17: The Carpenter Family: Farming Vegetables and
13 Fruit Keeps Their Dream Alive
by Arthur L. Allen

18 18: Ed McGrew: Putting His Shadow on His Land
by Forrest D. Cress

19: George Houk: The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum
of Its Parts
24 by George Houk with Virginia Broadbeck

20: Judy Berg: Volunteer Helps Manage Maine
28 by Melanie Spencer and Frank Wertheim

21: Ole Nissen: Adaptability Is the Key
by Pete Packett
Part III: The Business of Agriculture

22: Carla Jo Payne: Cropduster
34 by Phyllis J. Jones

23: Genita Cockrell and Lawrence Johnson: Savoring
Success in the Food Processing Industry
36 by Susan O'Reilly

24: Murray D. Lull: Rural Banker
39 by Kathleen Ward


25: Leonard Harris: Spreading Electronic Market Data
in North Dakota
by Carey Neshem

26: Sharon and John Gibbons: Honey of a Hobby
Sweetens Retirement Plans
by James D. Ritchie

27: John Harris: Integrating Beef on a Large,
Diversified Operation
by John Stumbos

28: John Barrientos: Growing an Agricultural Career
by Howard R. Rosenberg

29: David Marvin: Tapping into the Vermont Maple
by Lisa Halvorsen

30: Hildreth Morton: Selling Herbs, Growing with the
by Carole S. Kerr and Howard W. (Bud) Kerr, Jr.

31: Ellen Dolan and Joy Jackson: Exporting
Value-Added Foods
by Sally Klusaritz

32: Ray Bergin, Jr.: Bringing Fresh Produce to
Minneapolis-St. Paul
by James N. Morris, Jr., and Richard K. Overheim

33: Joseph M. Stewart: An 1890's Success Story
by Tom Willis

34: Ralph W. Ketner: Give and Take of a Grocery
by Denise R. Miller

35: Odonna Mathews: Consumers on Her Mind
by John Crowley

36: Bessie Beuchert: Discovering Herself Among People
and Peonies
by Craig Regelbrugge

Part IV: The Science of Agriculture
37: Mike Gould: Getting More Value From Crops 102
by Matthew Bosisio

74 38: James A. Duke: Duke of the Offbeat Plants 104
by J. Kim Kaplan

39: Forest Service Researchers: Studying Wildlife 106
77 by Nancy G. Tilghman

40: In Space Agriculture, the Work of Carver Continues 108
81 by Tuskegee University NASA/CELSS Sweet Potato

41: Robert L. Buchanan: A Scientist Fulfilling His
82 Lifelong Ambition 111
by Bruce Kinzel

42: Andy Cockburn: Diligence and Ingenuity Pay Off
86 in a Genetic Engineering Laboratory 114
by Jessica Morrison Silva

43: Claude E. Barton: APHIS Veterinarian Who Helped
88 Conquer Brucellosis 117
by James W. Glosser and Francine S. Linde

44: Regional Research Centers: The First Half
91 Century, 1940-1990 121
by Ruth Coy

93 45: Scientists Who Make a Difference 125
by Patricia Brazeel Lewis

Part V: Education: The Future of Agriculture
46: Ag in the Classroom: Teachers Plus Students Plus
Volunteers Add Up to Agricultural Literacy 130
96 by Shirley Traxler

47: Discover New Worlds in the Agricultural Future 133
by Susan Forte
48: FFA Goes High-Tech 136
by Michael Wilson

49: High School Agriculture Teachers: People Builders 139
by Jack Pitzer


50: Jeffrey Berry: Campus Leader Credits 4-H 141
by Charlotte G. Baer

51: Jimmy Cheek: Teacher of the Year 143
by Susan O'Reilly

52: Plan Your Education for a Career in Agriculture 145
by Keith Wharton and Jean M. Underwood

53: Historically Black Land-Grant Institutions-the
First 100 Years 148
by B. D. Mayberry

54: Model Program on Hydroponics and Aquaculture 152
by Thomas S. Handwerker

55: A Science Career, Working "The Land" 155
by Mary Schon

Part VI: Government Serving Agriculture

56: Velitchko Velev and Bessie Berry: Keeping Meat
and Poultry Safe, from Plant to Plate 160
by Herb Gantz and Irene Goins

57: Mattie Sharpless: Setting Goals for a World-Class
Agricultural Career 164
by Sally Klusaritz

58: Robert Johnson: Successful Small Farmer Using
Extension Service 166
by Samuel L. Donald and Robert E. Sanders

59: Volunteers, The Heartbeat of the Forest Service 168
by Ann Matejko

60: Washington State Livestock Master Volunteers:
Farmers Teaching Farmers 171
by Michael R. Hackett

61: Marketing, a Window to Success 174
by Jerry Dyer

62: Bill Brandvik: North Dakota State Entomologist 176
by Ellen Crawford Delp

63: USDA Employees of the Future 179
by Terry Thir


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Agriculture: A Critical U.S. Industry

Contrary to what you may have
heard, "farming" and "agriculture" do
not mean exactly the same thing.
Growing crops and raising livestock are
part of agriculture. But agriculture also
includes the manufacture of farm sup-
plies and the processing and distribu-
tion of farm commodities and products
made from them. U.S. farming and
agriculture sometimes appear to be
headed in separate economic directions,
but both are critical to the well-being of
domestic and foreign consumers.
Because of increased mechanization,
fewer and fewer people work on farms
in the United States. But agriculture in
the broad sense is and will continue to
be an important sector of the U.S. econ-
omy and a major source of job opportun-
ities. Agriculture encompasses the
entire U.S. food and fiber system and 20
million workers-including farm
laborers, food processors, transporters,
grocery checkout clerks, and food pre-
parers. Ironically, someone seeking a
job or a career in agriculture today is
more likely to be successful in cities,
towns, and suburbs than in the country-
Although the tasks of U.S. agricul-
tural workers are enormously varied
and often complex, their goal is simple:
to feed and help clothe all of us and
many others abroad and to continue to
do so, profitably and efficiently, for
coming generations.
In much of the rural United States
there is great concern over the declining
number of farming jobs, but declining

by T. Alexander Majchrowicz, Agricultural
Economist, and Mindy Petrulis, Economist,
Agriculture and Rural Economy Division,
Economic Research Service, USDA,
Washington, DC

employment on farms is not necessarily
ominous for the whole food and fiber
system. Technological advances in farm-
ing have increased production, and they
continue to do so. That's good for the
Nation's economic health, because
commercial exports of agricultural
products are the Nation's largest single
source of earnings from abroad.

Agriculture Today
Farming today is a complex business,
very different from what it was a few
decades ago. Adoption of modern tech-
nology has brought great change.
Increased mechanization has allowed
farms to become larger and more
specialized. As farms and farming
methods have changed, the production,
marketing, and financing of agriculture

have become more interdependent. The
modern farm family buys most of its
food at the grocery store. Furthermore,
farmers rely on agribusiness firms for
production needs such as chemicals,
fuels, and farm machinery; on farm
lenders for needed capital; and on a
centralized food system that requires
more processing, wholesaling, and
retailing of farm products.
The food and fiber system is today's
counterpart of yesterday's farm-
centered and farm-dominated economy.
The system includes employment in
farming and all businesses that support
the production and delivery of food,
clothing, shoes, tobacco, and other
agricultural products to domestic and
foreign consumers.
The 20 million jobs in the U.S. food
and fiber system account for 18 percent

Port I Facts and Figures




of all the Nation's jobs. Food and fiber
wholesaling and retailing account for
about half (52 percent) of the jobs in the
system. About 3.8 million jobs (19
percent) are in farm production-
farmers, hired farmworkers, and
workers in forestry, fisheries, and
agricultural services. About 15 percent
of agricultural jobs are in agricultural
marketing and processing industries;
other related agribusinesses account for
12 percent, and industries providing
farm supplies account for 2 percent. The
agricultural processing and trade indus-
tries provide the link between farmers
and consumers, where wheat becomes a
loaf of bread or cotton becomes a shirt
to be sold in stores. In this sense,
agricultural processors and retailers
determine what is made available for
consumers to eat and wear.

Urban and Rural Jobs
About 20.1 million jobs of all kinds
were located in nonmetropolitan
areas-beyond city and suburb-in
1986. Nearly 30 percent of these non-
metro jobs involved agricultural
businesses. Farm production accounted
for 2.4 million nonmetro jobs, but more
jobs were in nonfarming agribusinesses
than on farms. About 3.5 million non-
metro agricultural jobs were in farm
supply (input) industries, processing
and marketing industries, and whole-
sale and retail trade of agricultural
Because of the growing market
orientation of food and fiber processors,
wholesalers, and retailers, many
agricultural jobs are now located in
metropolitan areas. As the cost of trans-
porting raw agricultural products has
declined, many agriculture-related
industries have been drawn to metro-
politan areas, where consumer markets

Jobs in the food and fiber system

Regions also differ in the kinds of
food and fiber jobs offered. Farm
production provides 19 percent of the
nonmetro jobs in the Northern Plains
but less than 6 percent in the North-
east. Processing and marketing indus-
tries, primarily textiles and apparel,
account for a large share of nonmetro
jobs in the Southeast and Appalachia.
In contrast, the Pacific region has the
largest share of nonmetro jobs in
wholesale and retail agricultural trade

Metro and nonmetro food and fiber
system jobs, 1986


Total employment

Jobs (millions)
Metro Nonmetro

86.6 20.1

Agricultural employment 14.1

continue to expand. Food and fiber
industries provide 16 percent of all
metro jobs. More than three-fourths of
all jobs in farm-related processing and
marketing and wholesale and retail
trade agribusinesses were in metro

Rural Economies Vary by Region
The food and fiber system is an
important source of rural jobs in every
farm production region in the United
States. The farm sector and agriculture-
related industries account for more
than 35 percent of local nonmetro
employment in the Northern Plains,
32 percent in the Lake States, and 23
percent in the Northeast.

Farm production

Input industries
Processing and
Food and kindred
Apparel and textiles
Other processing and
* Wholesale and retail
Other indirect

Detail may not sum to total because of rounding.

Agriculture: A Critical U.S. Industry

1.4 2.4

.2 .2

1.9 1.1

1.0 .4

.8 .5

.2 .2

8.6 1.8

1.9 .4

Future Jobs
The increase in demand for basic
agricultural goods, plus changing
consumer tastes that lead to the
introduction of new products, will
ensure that the food and fiber system
continues to be a vital component of the
U.S. economy. Employment opportun-
ities will be best in agriculture-related

wholesale and retail firms, which will
benefit from population growth and
increases in consumer purchasing
power. The growing participation of
w6men in the labor force is also an
important factor, as it increases family
incomes while shifting some food and
meal preparation to the food and fiber
retail sector, making that sector one of
the fastest growing industries in the
U.S. economy.

In rural areas, however, where only
17 percent of all agricultural wholesale
and retail jobs are located and popu-
lation growth is slow, the prospects for
rapid job gains are limited. Although
growth in rural jobs may be unspec-
tacular, such jobs offer long-term
employment because of the relative
stability of domestic food and clothing

The food and fiber system

Part I Facts and Figures

Nonmetro food and fiber employment: Important in all regions




SFarm Production

I w



0] Related Agribusiness

Agriculture: A Critical U.S. Industry

Lake Corn No0
States Belt PI
E Processing Marketing
C Wholesale/Retail Tade



0 Ll


Who Are America's Farmers?

In pioneer days, and as late as the
1870's, most people in the United States
lived on farms (and ranches) and
worked in agriculture. Although the
number of farmers kept growing, they
were soon a minority because urban
industrialization increased even more
In 1916 the U.S. farm population
peaked at 32.5 million. Then, with no
more new land to settle and with fewer
people needed in agriculture as
mechanization and other labor-saving
procedures came along, the farm
population started to decrease. At first,
the decrease was gradual; there were
still 30 million U.S. farm residents in
1940. After 1940, however, the
modernization of farming and the
exodus of people to the cities became
very rapid.
By 1989, only 4.8 million people of all
ages remained on farms. In addition, a
growing minority of farmers are
choosing to live off the farm, often in
town. And some people who live on
farms are not farm operators. But if we
count all people in households that
report having either a farm operator or
income from farm self-employment, the
total population of such households
comes to just 5.3 million, or 2 percent of
the total U.S. population. Despite the
decline, and thanks to advances in
technology, U.S. farms today produce
much more than they ever did in the
Farms and farming regions have
changed. As late as 1950, half of all
farm people were in the South, and one-
third were in the Midwest. Southern
farming was dominated by cotton and,
to a lesser extent, tobacco. Both of these

by Calvin L Beale, Senior Demographer, Eco-
nomic Research Service, USDA, Washington, DC

crops supported a dense farm
population because they required so
many hours of work per acre. In the
decades after 1950, however, when
cotton and tobacco farming were both
modernized and reduced, hundreds of
thousands of southern farmers were
displaced. The soybean and livestock
farms that are emphasized in the South
today use much less labor, and some
poorer land has been taken out of
farming altogether.
In the Midwest, the number of
typical Corn Belt and Wheat Belt farms
also has declined, mainly through con-
solidation, but not as fast as in the
South. Today the positions of the two
major farm regions are reversed: half of
all farm people are now in the Midwest,
and only three-tenths are in the South.
The farm population has declined
more slowly in the highly irrigated
West, giving that region a rising pro-
portion of the total, now about one-
seventh. In the Northeast, our smallest
farming region, the farm population has
fallen rapidly throughout most of this
century, especially as large areas have
been overrun by urbanization.

Ethnic Diversity
Many immigrants came to America
seeking land, and many national origins
are represented in the U.S. farming
population. In much of the South,
farmers are largely descendants of the
early colonial settlers-English, Scotch
Irish, and Scots. In 1920 there were also
more than 900,000 black farmers in the
South, a majority of them tenants work-
ing for white landowners. In an extra-
ordinary exodus thereafter, black
families poured out of farming. They
were enticed by the prospect of a better
life in the cities and pushed by the near

demise of cotton and tobacco tenant
farming. Many black farm owners
joined the exodus because they suffered
from the lack of capital or adequately
sized units to compete in modern
The most recent farm census (1987)
found only 23,000 black farm operators
in the United States, a 97.5-percent
decline from 1920. Nearly half of the
farms operated by black farmers have
less than 50 acres of land, and the
average age of the black operators has
risen to 58 years, because few young
people are entering farming.
In the Midwest, the early American-
born settlers soon were joined by immi-
grants from Europe, who came to be the
dominant ethnic strains in most parts of
the region. German farmers and their
descendants were by far the most
numerous and were so persistent in

Part I Facts and Figures

farming from one generation to the next
that people of sole or partial German
ancestry today account for three-fifths
of the entire midwestern farm popu-
lation. Nationally, the numbers of
German-descended and British-
descended farm people are about equal.
The next largest 19th-century immi-
grant farm group was the Norwegians,
who located primarily in the Upper
Midwest. Although they were not nearly
as numerous as the Germans, they were
more likely to settle in farming areas
and avoid the big cities. Today, the
percentage of people who work as farm-
ers is higher among persons of Norwe-
gian background than among any other
U.S. ethnic group (8 percent for men
and 2 percent for women in 1980).
Other groups disproportionately repre-
sented among farmers are the Danes,
Dutch, Czechs, and Swedes, most of
whom are in the Midwest.
In the Southwest, there are Hispanic
farmers of Mexican-American back-
ground from central California to the
Lower Rio Grande Valley. Some fami-
lies have been on the land for genera-
tions; others are relative newcomers.
Although Hispanics have not been able
to defy the downward trend in number
of farmers and ranchers, their overall
rate of loss since 1950 has been less
than that of other farmers. Many hired
farmworkers in the Southwest are
Mexican-Americans, and in recent dec-
ades some have managed to become
farm operators, especially in California,
where they focus on fruits and
American Indian farmers are scat-
tered throughout the United States, but
except in North Carolina they are
largely in current or former reservation
areas. More than any other class of
farmers, Indians have specialized in

cattle operations, in part because so
much of their land is ill-suited or too
dry for crop farming. In 1987 crops were
harvested from only 1 percent of Indian-
operated farmland and ranchland.
Reservation farms and ranches may be
individually or tribally owned, depend-
ing on the history of the reservation. In
Oklahoma, which has the most Indian-
operated farms, the units tend to be
very modest in size and output. Some
tribally owned operations elsewhere are
very large.
People of Asian origin engage in
farming mostly in California and Ha-
waii. A majority are of Japanese
descent. They have been inclined to-
ward intensively worked, small-acreage,
irrigated farms. Four-fifths of them
focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts, and
horticulture. Farms are often excep-
tionally small, with two-fifths having
less than 10 acres of land. In spite of
such small acreage, Asian farmers are
much more likely than others to have
farming as their principal occupation
rather than as a sideline.

Following in the Footsteps
A national survey in the early 1970's
showed that 81 percent of all male
farmers under 65 years old were the
sons of farmers. No other occupation
came close to having such a high per-
centage of men who had chosen their
fathers' occupations. Most farm youth
have gone into nonfarm pursuits-after
all, the number of farms has dropped
and farm families were rather large.
However, farm-reared people remain
dominant in farming because of its
complexity, the financial advantages of
inheritance in a business with high
capital costs, and the lack of attrac-
tiveness of a declining occupation to

Women in Fanning
The traditional image of the farmer
has been masculine, but women always
have played a major, if silent and over-
looked, role.
In the past, most women on farms
were not viewed as being in the labor
force, regardless of the farmwork they
may have performed. A minority were
counted as unpaid family workers. Only
a farm widow was likely to be viewed as
a farm operator. Over the years, more
women have entered farming on their
own, and farm women spouses have
more frequently come to view them-
selves as co-operators with their
husbands. At the same time, though, so
many farm women have taken off-farm
jobs that nearly three-fourths of those
who now work do so solely or primarily
in a nonfarm industry.

Who Are America's Farmers?

The 1987 Census of Agriculture
identified 132,000 farms whose
operators or senior partners were
women. This represented 6 percent of
all farms, and was an increase of 10,000
in 5 years, at a time when the overall
number of farms was falling. A large
minority of these women were widows,
for nearly one-fourth of them were 70
years old or over, twice the percentage
found among male farmers. Neverthe-
less, there are many young women
Women are involved in all types of
agriculture. Their most common enter-
prise is beef cattle, in which more than
one-third of them specialize. Their
greatest relative presence, though, is in
animal specialty farming, where they
have one-sixth of the farms. By far the
greater part of these are horse-breeding
operations. Poultry, horticultural prod-
ucts, fruits, and nuts are other types of
farming favored by women.

From Strong Backs to Strong Minds
Just a generation or two in the past,
most farm people had limited formal
education. High schools were either
absent from many rural school districts
or not conveniently available. Further-
more, many farm people did not think
higher education was necessary for a
life in farming and did not enroll their
children any longer than required. In
1950 only one-fifth of farm adults 25
years old or over had graduated from
high school (the urban figure was two-
Since then, it has become obvious
that farmers need a good education, and
farm children also have been integrated
into larger school systems. In nonfarm
areas, the pace of higher educational
achievement has slowed, partly because
of the influx of large numbers of poorly

trained immigrants. The result of these
two trends has been an impressive
reversal of traditional rankings with
respect to high school attainment. In
1988, 81 percent of adults in farmers'
households had completed high school,
compared with 76 percent in all other
households. Nonfarm people are still
somewhat more likely to have
completed 1 or more years of college,
but the days of wide inferiority in
schooling among farmers and their
families are over.

Older Farmers and Fewer Heirs
With fewer farms and a decline in
the birth rate of farm people over the
last 30 years, the average age of the
farm population has risen. Farm people
used to be younger, on average, than
urban and other nonfarm residents, but
today they are much older, on average.
In 1988, half of the farm population was

38 years old or over, compared with a
nonfarm median of 32.2 years. There is
a relative shortage of people 20 to 39
years old on farms compared with those
45 to 69 years old. Between 1960 and
1988, the number of farm children
under age 15 per every 100 farm adults
20 to 54 years old fell from 85 to 46.
Unless the proportion of farm children
who decide to go into farming increases
substantially, there will be a rise in the
proportion of farm families who lack an
heir to take over the enterprise.

Dynamk Demographics
The United States has drawn a
variety of ethnic strains into farming
and ranching. The demography of farm
operator families has been very much in
flux in recent decades, and it remains
so. Trends of the post-World War II era
have greatly affected the numbers,
location, and ethnic background of
farmers, with notable
losses among southern
and black farmers.
Rapidly advancing
education and increased
participation by women
in the nonfarm workforce
are two major societal
changes that are shared
by the farm population.
All of these events have
influenced the average
age and family size of
farm people. The
situation is dynamic,
with many questions yet
to be answered about the
t ultimate number,
location, characteristics,
and intergenerational
continuity of our farm
S operators and their
r families.

Part I Facts and Figures

The Hired Farm Workforce: Portrait of Diversity

A popular image of hired farm-
workers is that of people harvesting
fruits and vegetables for part of the
year in California and other West Coast
States. In fact, hired farmwork
comprises a wide range of activities
performed all over the United States,
for example:
Cutting sugarcane in Florida,
Stripping and baling tobacco in
Herding sheep in Idaho,
Operating a combine in Kansas,
Milking cows in Vermont, and
Shearing Christmas trees in
Hired farmworkers not only perform
widely different activities, but they
themselves are a diverse group who
work for a variety of reasons. Farm-
workers include:
Heads of households who do
hired farmwork year-round and
whose families depend on their
farm earnings for economic
People employed primarily at
nonfarm jobs who do seasonal
farmwork to supplement their
nonfarm earnings, and
Students who do farmwork for
only a few days during the year
to earn extra spending money.

Hired Farmworkers in U.S. Agriculture
Agriculture provides employment to
many people, including farm operators,
members of the operators' families who
work without pay, and hired farm-

by Victor 1. Oliveira, Agricultural Economist,
Economic Research Service, USDA,
Washington, DC

workers who do farmwork for cash
wages or salary. Although farm oper-
ators and their families account for
most agricultural employment, hired
farmworkers are a vital resource. Of the
almost 7.7 million people who worked
on U.S. farms at some time during
1987, about 2.5 million did hired
farmwork, and they accounted for about
one-third of the total hours of farmwork
(fig. 1).
The relative importance of hired
farmworkers in agricultural production
has increased over the past 4 decades.
Mechanization and other technological
innovations, along with increased off-
farm employment opportunities, have
reduced the number of people working
on farms. However, the decline in
operators and family members has been

Figure 1. Hours worked on forms by
farm operators, unpaid farmworkers,
and hired farmworkers, 1987

greater than the decline in hired farm-
workers, and the hired farmworkers'
share of total farm employment has
increased from less than one-fourth in
1950 to about one-third in the 1980's.
The trend toward fewer but larger
farms has reduced the number of family
workers, but it has increased the aver-
age farm's hired labor requirements. In
the past decade, as the trend toward
fewer farms has slowed, hired workers'
share of total farm employment has
The amount of hired labor used on
farms is related to the size of the farm
operation and the commodity that it
produces. Larger farms are more likely
to have labor needs in excess of the
capacities of the families who farm
them. Some commodities whose pro-
duction has been largely mechanized
(such as many grains and cotton), as
well as most livestock operations, do not
require large amounts of labor per farm.
However, there are crops that
require hand harvesting or labor-
intensive cultivation-such as many
fresh fruits and vegetables, tree nuts,
and horticultural specialties-that
continue to use large amounts of hired
labor. Because these crops are perish-
able, much labor is needed for short
periods, especially during harvesting
seasons, to prevent reduction in quality
(and thus value) of the commodities.

Characteristics of the Hired Farm
A look at the demographic and
economic characteristics of the 2.5
million people aged 14 years and older
who did hired farmwork during 1987

Total Hours Worked

The Hired Farm Workforce: Portrait of Diversity

illustrates the diversity of the hired
farm workforce.
Demographics. In 1987, almost 80
percent of all hired farmworkers were
male. About 78 percent were white, 14
percent were Hispanic, and 8 percent
were black or members of other racial or
ethnic groups. The racial and ethnic
characteristics of hired farmworkers
varied significantly across geographic
areas. For example, Hispanics made up
44 percent of all workers in the Pacific
region, while blacks and other minority
groups accounted for 36 percent of the
workers in the Southeast.
About 70 percent of all hired
farmworkers were less than 35 years
old, and half were 26 or younger. The
large proportion of youths among hired
farmworkers reflects the fact that much
of hired farmwork, unlike some
occupations, requires little previous
work experience.
Hired farmworkers had lower educa-
tion levels than most occupational
groups. Half of all hired farmworkers
had not completed high school, and only
17 percent had some college education.
Many workers were still in school, but
even among workers aged 25 and older
(when most schooling has been com-
pleted), 40 percent had not completed
high school.
Employment. Agricultural employ-
ment is extremely seasonal (fig. 2).
Farmwork has periods of peak labor
use, for example during the harvesting
of perishable fruits and vegetables. In
most States, labor use peaks during the
summer and few workers are employed
during the winter. In Florida, however,
summer is the slack season for farm
employment. Only 36 percent of all
hired farmworkers in 1987 worked in

Figure 2. Hired farmworkers employed by month, 1987



January or February. The proportion
increased to more than 60 percent in
June, July, and August and then
steadily declined through December.
Because of the seasonal nature of
agriculture, much hired farmwork is
unstable and short-term. In 1987 the
average hired farmworker spent 112
days doing farmwork. However, there
was extreme variation. More than half
of hired farmworkers (55 percent)
worked fewer than 75 days during the
year, and about one-third worked fewer
than 25 days (fig. 3). Only about one-
fifth were year-round workers (working
250 or more days at farmwork). Even

some of these year-round workers had
to piece together a series of farm jobs to
work most of the year.
Hired farmworkers were paid an
average of $4.87 per hour for farmwork
in 1987. This low wage and the seasonal
employment combined to make hired
farmworker earnings among the lowest
of all occupational groups in the United
States. Hired farmworkers earned an
average of only $6,663 in 1987, of which
$3,368 was from hired farmwork.
However, total earnings were highly

Port I Facts and Figures

Figure 3. Days worked by hired farmworkers, 1987






A 300



1-24 Days 25-74 Days 75-149 Days 150-249 Days 250 and Over
Days Worked

variable: About one-quarter of all hired
farmworkers earned less than $2,500,
and one-quarter made more than
Because of the low earnings asso-
ciated with much hired farmwork, many
farmworkers work at nonfarm jobs to
increase their incomes. In 1987, almost
half of all hired farmworkers did some
nonfarm work. About $3,295, or 49

percent, of the average hired worker's
total earnings was from nonfarm work.
Workers who did nonfarm work in
addition to hired farmwork generally
worked fewer days at hired farmwork
and had significantly greater annual
earnings than workers who did
farmwork only. However, many hired
workers with few labor market skills
and little education had limited
opportunities to find better paying
nonfarm employment.

The majority of hired farmworkers in
1987 had only a weak attachment to
farmwork and did not consider it to be
their major labor activity. About 40
percent of all hired workers, most of
them students, were not in the labor
force during most of the year. Another
22 percent of hired farmworkers were
chiefly nonfarm workers who did
farmwork for brief periods. Only 29
percent considered themselves to be
primarily hired farmworkers, and they
were the most likely to be employed in
agriculture year-round.

Foreign Workers
Foreign as well as domestic workers
do hired farmwork in the United States.
The short duration of employment, the
relatively low wages, the strenuous
nature of the work, and the lack of job
security associated with much seasonal
farmwork make these jobs unattractive
to many domestic workers. Foreign
workers leave their home countries to
work in U.S. agriculture because there
are more jobs and higher wages here.
Lack of education, work experience, or
language fluency does not hinder
foreign workers as much in agriculture
as in many other types of jobs. As a
result, many U.S. farm employers have
come to rely on foreign workers as a
ready source of labor.
Legal Foreign Workers. Some
foreign nationals are legally admitted to
the United States to do hired farmwork
under the H-2A temporary foreign
worker program. The H-2A program,
administered by the U.S. Department of
Labor, permits their entry into the
United States to do temporary

The Hired Form Workforce: Portrait of Diversity

farmwork when there are not enough
available qualified domestic workers to
do the work, and when the foreign
workers will not adversely affect the
wages or working conditions of similarly
employed U.S. farmworkers. About
26,000 farms jobs were certified for
foreign workers under the H-2A
program in 1989. Due to their small
numbers, H-2A workers have little
effect on the national farm labor
market. However, they provide an
important share of the farm labor used
in harvesting apples in the East and
sugarcane in Florida.
Illegal Aliens. Because many
foreign workers, including farmworkers,
worked in the United States illegally,
Congress passed the Immigration
Reform and Control Act of 1986 to
control this illegal immigration. There
are no good estimates of the number of
illegal aliens, or undocumented
workers, who worked in agriculture
before 1986. However, they apparently
comprised a significant part of the farm
workforce. Many of them worked in
seasonal agricultural jobs and returned
home each year after completing their
work in the United States. Their labor
was crucial to the many fruit and
vegetable farms that hire large
numbers of workers for short periods
during planting and harvesting seasons.
For further reading, see The
Agricultural Work Force of 1987: A
Statistical Profile, Economic Research
Service, USDA, AER-609, May 1989,
and Trends in the Hired Farm Work
Force, 1945-87, Economic Research
Service, USDA, AIB-561, April 1989.

Harvester with bucket of bell peppers.
Many U.S. fam employers rely on hired
farmworkers as a ready source of labor.

Port I Facts and Figures

Hundreds of Commodities Produced on U.S. Farms

Beef cattle, hogs, milk, corn, wheat,
and cotton come readily to mind when
we think about what U.S. farmers
produce. However, farmers also produce
a bewildering variety of other com-
modities for domestic and export mar-
kets. The 1987 Census of Agriculture
lists more than 200, but the actual-
number is even greater, because some
minor specialty commodities are
grouped together for statistical
The diversity of the farm sector
reflects not only the climatic and
resource variations across the United
States, but also the many occupational
and lifestyle choices of farm operators,
as well as the local and regional
markets and opportunities for profits.
In addition to providing a cornucopia of
food and fiber for the American con-
sumer, U.S. farms provide for many of
our industrial, recreational, and
aesthetic needs.

In 1987, nearly 1.5 million farms,
representing about three-quarters of
the 2.1 million farms counted in the
1987 Census of Agriculture, produced
livestock and poultry (fig. 1). The graph
is not all-inclusive (data are deficient on
ostrich output, for example). Although
more farms produce beef cattle than
any other kind of livestock, roughly one-
third of these farms keep 10 or fewer
beef cows. These are frequently part-
time or rural residence farms. Because
of its low labor requirement, the raising

by Donn A. Reimund, Agricultural Economist,
Agriculture and Rural Economy Division,
Economic Research Service, USDA,
Washington, DC

of beef cattle is well suited to small
operations where farming is a sideline
to the farm operator's primary
Although most farmers focus on
raising livestock and poultry that
produce the major meat, milk, and
poultry items, some produce specialty
livestock commodities that not only add
variety to our food and fiber supply but
also serve other needs. Nearly 90,000
farmers raise horses and ponies for sale
to fill recreational demands. Other
recreational demands are filled by
farmers who raise game birds, such as
pheasant and quail.
Nearly 40,000 honeybee keepers not
only provide our tables with a delicious
sweetener but also provide a vital polli-
nation service to many crop farmers.

Beekeepers rent hives of bees to farm-
ers to pollinate crops and ensure high
yields. Without bees, the production of
most fruits, legume seeds, and many
vegetables would be sharply reduced.
For many beekeepers, the production of
honey is secondary to the pollination
services they provide for other farmers.

Crops were produced on more than
1.6 million U.S. farms in 1987. The
most widely produced crop in the
United States is not corn, soybeans, or
wheat (the major grain and oilseed
crops). It is hay, which is grown on
about 995,000 farms. Some farms are
specialized hay farms, which produce
hay as their principal cash crop, but

Hundreds of Commodities Produced on U.S. Farms

Figure 1. Producers of Uvestock

Fish and Aquaculture Products
Angora Goats

00 500 600
Number of Producers (1,000)

Source: 1987 Census of Agriculture

Port I Facts and Figures

most hay is produced on other farms.
Nearly half of all hay-producing farms
are beef cattle and dairy farms, where
hay is grown for livestock feed. Beef
cattle and dairy farms accounted for 58
percent of the acreage in hay crops and
53 percent of hay tonnage produced in
the United States in 1987. Hay crops
accounted for about one-fifth of the
harvested cropland in 1987.
Hay is also commonly produced on
other types of crop farms-such as
grain, vegetable, potato, cotton, and
tobacco farms-as a rotation crop. Hay
crops grown in rotation with other crops
serve as soil builders, reduce soil
erosion, and help farmers control
insects and other pests. Legume hay
crops, such alfalfa and clover, also add
nitrogen, a vital crop nutrient, to the
In addition to hay, grains, and
oilseeds, U.S. farmers produce a wide
range of food, ornamental, and
industrial crops (fig. 2). The nursery
and greenhouse group, for example,
encompasses more than 37,000 farmers
and includes such commodities as cut
flowers, potted plants, ornamental
shrubs and bushes, fruit and nut trees,
mushrooms, greenhouse-grown vege-
tables, and lawn sod. Although some
farmers producing these crops spe-
cialize in growing only one or two
specific crops, others (probably most)
produce a wide range of nursery or
greenhouse crops.
The fruit and vegetable categories
also include a large number of
commodities. In addition to apples and
oranges, fruits include such products as
raspberries, olives, kiwis, and mangoes.
The 1987 Census of Agriculture lists
nearly 50 different major fruits, berries,
and nuts produced in the United States.

Acording to the 198 Cesus olf gnrulvue more Ihon I 6 mitan U S forms produce commetaol ops Whe1 growers aocouned lor 352 237
of he ormssurveyed.

The vegetable category, in addition to
such widely known crops as tomatoes,
lettuce, and green beans, includes many
less well-known commodities, such as
artichokes, daikons, and hot peppers.
Over 50 different major vegetable and
melon crops are listed in the 1987
Census count. Many fruits and vegeta-
bles are distributed nationally, whereas
others are produced by a few farmers to
meet local or ethnic demands.

Farm Types
Most farmers produce more than one
commodity. For example, it is common
for corn and soybeans to be raised on
the same farm. Many livestock pro-
ducers grow feedgrain and forage crops,

such as hay or silage, to feed to their
animals. Also, sound agricultural
practices often call for several crops to
be grown in rotation for soil building,
disease control, and insect control. Even
so, most farms in the United States are
highly specialized in the production of a
specific commodity.
One method of classifying a farm is
by type, based on the commodity that
accounts for the largest proportion of
the farm's gross sales. A farm is
classified as a cotton farm, for example,
if 50 percent or more of the value of its
commodity sales comes from cotton. A
farm on which no one commodity (or
commodity group) accounts for at least

Hundreds of Commodities Produced on U.S. Forms

Figure 2. Producers of crops

0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1,000
Source 1987 e of Auure Number of Producers (1,000)
Source: 1987 Census of Agricuhure

Port I Facts and Figures

half the value of products sold is
classified as a general farm-either
general crop or general livestock, de-
pending on whether crop or livestock
products generate the most sales value.
Using this scheme, the Census of
Agriculture classifies U.S. farms into 14
different types (see table). Beef cattle
operations (excluding feedlots) and cash
grain farms are the most common types.
Together, beef cattle and cash grain
farms account for more half of all farms
in the United States.
The specialization ratio is the
proportion of a farm's commodity sales
that are generated from its primary
commodity or commodity group
(specialty). General farms, both crop
and livestock, are the least specialized,
because they produce a variety of
commodities with no single commodity
dominating their product sales. Among
the specialized farm types, cotton and
tobacco farms are the least specialized.
On average, they obtain the smallest
proportion (less than 80 percent) of
their total sales values from their
primary commodities. The most highly
specialized farm types are horticultural
specialty, animal specialty, fruit and
tree nut, and poultry farms. These farm
types, on average, obtain over 96
percent of their total sales values from
their primary commodities.

Number of farms by type and
specialzation ratio, 1987

Type of farm
Cash grain
Other field crops
Vegetable and melon
Fruit and tree nut
Horticultural specialty
General, primarily

Number ratio
458,396 0.863
27,674 0.796
87,776 0.793
128,178 0.811
28,801 0.873
88,323 0.963

y 31,469


57,888 NA

Beef cattle
(excludes feedlots) 643,831


Livestock, except dairy,
poultry and animal
specialties (includes
feedlots) 248,436 0.865

Animal specialty
General, primarily
All farms

138,311 0.842
38,494 0.963
87,855 0.966

22,327 NA
2,087,759 NA

NA Not appib/e.
Source: 1987 Census of Agrnku/ure.

Hundreds of Commodities Produced on U.S. Forms

Profiling the Diversity of America's Farms

What is the typical American city-
Carson City, Kansas City, or New York
City? Just as it would be difficult to
typify the American city, it is equally
difficult to typify the American farm.
When they think of the "typical
farm," many picture a family farm-
house, a barn, and some cows, or a
wheatfield extending as far as the eye
can see. But farms are so diverse across
this country that it is hard to generalize
about them.
To look at this diversity, this chapter
uses 1987 Census of Agriculture data
(the most recent available) to profile
five classes of farms, based on their
annual farm product sales. We examine
farm numbers and amount of farmland,
product sales, asset values, expenses,
type of organization, participation in
Government farm programs, and
several operator characteristics for each
of five classes of farms (see table 1).
These are:
I. Rural residence: less than
$25,000 in sales
II. Small commercial: $25,000 to
$99,999 in sales
III. Moderate commercial: $100,000
to $499,999 in sales
IV. Large commercial: $500,000 to
$999,999 in sales
V. Very large commercial: $1
million or more in sales

Class I. Rural Residence Farms
Rural residence farms make up the
largest share of all farms in the United
States (almost 65 percent), but account
for only a small share of the value of all
farm product sales and acreage, with

by Nora L. Brooks and Judith Z. Kalbacher,
Researchers, Economic Research Service,
USDA, Washington, DC

6.4 percent of sales (fig. 1) and just over
one-third the acreage of the average
U.S. farm.
Average value of farm assets (includ-
ing land, buildings, machinery, and
equipment), annual farm product sales,
and expenses for this class of farms-all
indicators of economic status-lag
behind others nationwide (table 1). The
average rural residence farm loses
almost $1,000 annually when expenses
are deducted from sales. However, only
20 percent of these farms receive Gov-
ernment program payments and less
than 5 percent have Commodity Credit
Corporation (CCC) loans.
Rural residence farms are usually
individually run operations ("sole
proprietorships"), managed by one
person who makes the decisions about
such things as planting, harvesting,
feeding, and marketing. Most operators
are full owners of their land; only one
out of every four rents any of the
acreage farmed. Full ownership, once
considered the ideal for a farming
operation, is now associated with
farming on a moderate or small scale.
The typical operator of a rural
residence farm has a principal occupa-
tion other than farming. This is the only
farm class to have a majority of its
operators primarily employed off the
farm. Half report more than 200 days of
off-farm work, while only about one-
third report none. Those with no off-
farm work include a large number of
The median age of rural residence
operators (53.4 years) is above the
national median of 52.0 years, undoubt-
edly reflecting the large component of
retirees. In fact, one fourth of all rural
residence operators are 65 years of age
or older, which is nearly twice the
proportion in the commercial farm

Many of the rural residence farms
serve primarily as residences for indi-
viduals with nonfarm occupations or
retirement income who are attracted to
rural living. The farming activity for
them is normally an avocation or hobby.
Others are small farming enterprises
whose proprietors typically need to
supplement their farm income with off-
farm earnings.

Class II. Small Commercial Farms
About 438,000 small commercial
farms are in the second largest class of
farms. As with the rural residence
farms, the share of farms in this class is
larger than their share of product sales
(fig. 1). These farms have more land
than the national norm, but the numer-
ous rural residence farms included in
the national statistics heavily weight
national averages and distributions in
the direction of smaller farms. However,
in relation to the farms discussed below,
which produce the bulk of the Nation's
agricultural output, small commercial
farms are truly small in acreage.
Unlike rural residence farms, aver-
age asset values for small commercial
farms exceed national levels, and aver-
age product sales are slightly higher
than expenses; on the average they net
about $12,000 annually (table 1). Still,
these farms have comparatively low
economic status in the farm sector,
lagging behind all but the rural resi-
dence farms. This class has the second
highest participation in Federal farm
programs, but the average Government
payments and CCC loans per partic-
ipant are below the national averages
because of the much larger payments to
bigger farms.
Small commercial farms are most
often individually run. Like most of the

Part I Facts and Figures

Figure 1. A small share of the Nation's farms produce most of the food and fiber

Share of Farms

Nation's farm operators, except those of
rural residence farms, these operators
are likely to rent some of the land they
farm. Renting additional farmland has
become a common way for farmers to
enlarge their operations without tying
up large amounts of capital.
The typical operator claims farming
as a principal occupation, and is much
less likely than a rural residence
operator to report any off-farm work.
Operators of small commercial farms
are slightly younger (averaging 50 years
old) than most other operators; only
those on moderate commercial farms
are younger (averaging 48.2 years old).
Some small commercial farms, like
rural residence farms but to a lesser
extent, are part-time operations whose
proprietors combine off-farm earnings
with farm income. Others are full-time

Share of Product Sales

commercial ventures, whose proprietors
depend primarily on income from

Class Ill. Moderate Commercial Farms
Moderate commercial farms account
for the largest share of farm product
sales, but constitute a much smaller
share of the Nation's farms than rural
residence or small commercial opera-
tions (fig. 1). The average farm in this
class has 1,284 acres, nearly three
times the national average, and many
more of these farms are in the larger
size categories than is the case for rural
residence or small commercial farms.
Average asset values ($750,000 in
land and buildings and $114,000 in
machinery and equipment) are well
above the national average, and product
sales exceed expenses by an average of

$50,000 annually. These measures show
the competitive edge of this size of farm
over the smaller farms. Moderate com-
mercial farms have the highest partici-
pation of all farm classes in Govern-
ment farm programs, although payment
and loan levels are higher for large and
very large commercial farms.
Moderate commercial farms are most
often individually run operations. Sole
proprietorships in this and the small
commercial farm class fit the traditional
concept of the "family farm." However,
this class has a larger share of other
types of organization than smaller
farms; 17 percent are partnerships, 9
percent are family-held corporations,
and almost 1 percent are other than
family-held corporations. About three of
every four operators in this class rent
some or all of the land they farm, which
is the largest share for any farm class.
The operator of the moderate com-
mercial farm, at 48 years, is the young-
est of all classes. This operator is very
likely to claim farming as the principal
occupation (92 percent) and report no
off-farm work (74 percent). The average
moderate commercial farm is a full-time
commercial venture, but this class also
contains some smaller commercial oper-
ations whose proprietors rely on off-
farm sources of income.

Class IV. Large Commercial Farms
Only 1 percent of the Nation's farms
are large commercial operations, but
they account for just over 10 percent of
all product sales (fig. 1). Over half of the
farms in this class have over 500 acres
(fig. 2); the typical farm has 3,000 acres.
Based on farm assets, product sales,
and expenses, the relative prosperity of
these farms is exceeded only by those in
the very large commercial size class. On

Profiling the Diversity of America's Farms

Characteristics of U.S. farms

Farm class

Rural Small Moderate Large Very Large
Residence Commercial Commercial Commercial Commerical All Farms

Less than $25,000- $100,000- $500,000- $1,000,000-
Value of products sold $25,000 99,999 499,999 999,999 or more

Number of farms 1,354,352 437,686 263,698 20,930 11,093 2,087,759
Percent of all farms 64.9 21.0 12.6 1.0 0.5 100.0

Average sales value $6,386 $53,760 $196,884 $672,543 $3,414,401 $65,165
Percent of all sales 6.4 17.3 38.2 10.3 27.8 100.0

Average value of:
Land and buildings $136,671 $341,322 $741,348 $1,637,088 $3,940,143 $289,387
Machinery and equipment $17,358 $55,194 $114,222 $188,143 $435,140 $41,227
Expenses $7,323 $41,440 $146,233 $526,880 $2,828,884 $51,797

Government payments:
Farms participating 264,211 252,426 168,242 10,309 3,822 699,010
Average payment $3,825 $12,180 $27,799 $56,257 $79,660 $13,800
CCC loans:
Farms participating 61,638 130,800 101,401 5,444 1,626 300,909
Average loan $5,304 $18,386 $47,137 $106,251 $149,541 $27,693

Farms by acre size:
Less than 10 acres 158,483 15,406 8,032 937 399 183,257
10-49 acres 372,792 24,640 12,091 1,820 1,094 412,437
50-499 acres 755,999 262,841 96,011 5,354 2,938 1,123,143
500-999 acres 45,455 76,604 72,887 3,517 1,595 200,058
1,000 or more acres 21,623 58,195 74,677 9,302 5,067 168,864
Average size of farm 168 623 1,284 3,002 5,655 462

Port I Facts and Figures

Characteristics of U.S. farms (continued)

Farm class

Value of products sold

Operator characteristics:
Full owner
Part owner

Sole proprietor
Family held
Other than family

Principal occupation:
Other than farming

Farms by days of
200 days or more

Average age of operator

the average farm, product sales exceed
expenses by $146,000.
Half of the operators of large com-
mercial farms receive direct Govern-
ment payments; average payments per
participant ($56,000) are four times the
national average. One-fourth receive
CCC loans, also averaging about four
times the national average. Note that

although these farms are typically
managed by more than one person, the
farm itself is considered the participant
in these programs, and multiple oper-
ators are not included in the averages.
The primary operator of this class of
farm is 50 years old (slightly younger
than the average U.S. farm operator), is
principally employed in farming, and

has no off-farm work. Although about
half are in sole proprietorships, a larger
share of these commercial farm oper-
ators are in partnerships and corpora-
tions than is the case for smaller farms.
The farms are operated as small busi-
nesses and are run like small busi-
nesses in other parts of the economy.

Profiling the Diversity of America's Farms


Less than































Very Large

or more






All Farms






Figure 2. Most of the Nation's farms have fewer than 500 acres

Rural Residence1.6
11.7% 27.5% 55.8% 3.4%-]

Small Commercial
r5.6% 60.1% 17.5% 13.3%

Moderate Commercial
4.6% 36.5% 27.6% 28.3%

Large Commercial
8.7% 25.6% 16.8% 44.4%

Very Large
9.9% 26.4% 14.4% 45.7%

0 20 40 60 80 100
Percent of Farms
Size of Farm (acres)
*<10 o 10-49 0[ 50-499 0 500-999 01,000+

Class V. Very Large Commercial Farms
Very large farms account for only
half of 1 percent of all farms, but they
receive 28 percent of farm product sales
(fig. 1). The size distribution for this
class (fig. 2) closely resembles that for
large commercial farms. However,
because some of the very large farms

have vast amounts of land, their
average size is nearly double that for
the large commercial class.
A comparison of farm assets, product
sales, and expenses illustrates the
extent to which these superfarmss"
surpass other farms on these counts.
Average asset values are more than
double those for Class IV farms, and

sales exceed expenses by $586,000
Participation rates in Government
farm programs are the lowest of any
commercial farm class, but the pay-
ments are the highest of all classes.
Again, the farm is the program
participant and the payments are
divided among multiple operators.
The very large commercial farm is
most often a family-held corporation.
The operator is equally likely to be a
full or part owner of the land. In com-
parison with the other commercial farm
classes, the share of full owners is large,
and the share of part owners is small.
The average operator of the very
large farm is 51.7 years old, slightly
older than other commercial farm oper-
ators. Typically, this full-time operator
reports no off-farm work (79 percent)
and claims farming as a principal occu-
pation (88 percent). These are large-
scale business enterprises, frequently
involving several people in their man-
agement and functioning like moderate-
size corporations in the nonfarm

Two Kinds of American Farms
In comparing the five classes of
farms, a clear pattern emerges. Rural
residence farms far outnumber other
classes, but lag behind in measures of
economic status. Undoubtedly there are
operators in this class who are "com-
mercial farmers" trying to make a living
at the business of farming. For most,
however, the farm appears to be more a
residence and hobby than a business
venture. The profiles of other farm
classes depict commercial operations of
varying size and degree of involvement,
ranging from small, part-time farming
ventures to large, full-time operations.

Port I Facts and Figures



Candor, NY:

Alternative Farming, Alternative Place

Facts and fashion prompt policy
advocates and professors to speak of
"farming alternatives" as a key to both
rural development and environmentally
responsible agriculture. For dozens of
agricultural entrepreneurs in Candor,
NY, however, farming and the rural
town are themselves the deliberately
chosen alternative.
While Candor is a place, it's also an
idea in our cultural heads. Once
branded the archetypal Small Town in
Mass Society by a rural sociology
casebook about the town, Candor
endures as farm town turned commuter
dormitory. Nine-to-five jobs 20 and 30
miles distant largely have supplanted
family dairy farms as the fount of
Candor's cash-flow.
Changing times have left only 18
full-time dairy farmers in Candor.

Rob and Darlene nowland, along with their daughters and a herd ot
Holsteins, call Candor home. Following a farming tradition, the
entire family is involved in the Howlands' dairy business.

by Alan R. Knight, Farming Alternatives
Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Eighteen others have quit since 1985,
and probably three times that many
have quit since the publication of Small
Town in Mass Society shook Candor in
the 1950's. Nevertheless, new ventures
sprout like volunteer white pines in an
old pasture.
Candor is home to a
surprising array of farms,
most of them small and
supplemented with off-
farm income: a fish farm, a
roadside vegetable and
pick-your-own market, five
sheep farms, a growing
goat farm, a market
garden growing crops for
sale at a small city
farmers' market, a
wholesale florist serving
distant metropolitan
markets, a firewood
producer, four small-scale
maple syrup and sugar
producers, two Holstein
beef producers, a hunting
guide business, and at After 12 years ofw
least five Christmas tree hod enough. She mi
plantations, children, she has re

Raising Kids
It is a 5-minute walk from the
Candor Village Library to Rita Kellogg's
goat farm. She got there by a much
longer route, winding through time
from Highland Park, NJ. Her uncle
owned a weekend retreat in nearby
Spencer, NY, and her family would
drive the 6 to 7 hours from central New
Jersey to visit.
"It was wonderful," Rita recalls,
"miles of nothing. We kids would go off
and play in the creek."
The memory never left her. After 12
years of working at a grocery chain

store in New Jersey, she decided that
she had had enough. City life, even the
suburban variety, had grown unbear-
able. She moved out and took a job at
the small grocery store on Candor's
Main Street.

irking in a suburban grocery store, Rita Kellogg decided that she had
ved to the country to begin anew, and with her husband, Russ, and
ated a successful goat milking operation that continues to expand.

Then came the goats, starting with
just one for the children as an
afterthought when she and her husband
went to buy a few beef cattle. Then they
had to have a companion for that goat,
then two bred yearlings, and then a kid.
By 1982, they had become the pro-
prietors of Kellogg's Goat Farm.
Rita, her husband, Russ, and their
children Kelly, 16, Karen, 15, and
Robert, 11, now rise each morning at
4:30 to milk 120 dairy goats, feed them,
and push around some manure. The
farm has not stopped growing. Rita
expects to be milking 150 goats by the
end of 1990, and the Kelloggs' shipping

Part II Forming

contract to a goat's milk ice cream
manufacturer just increased from 750 to
4,000 pounds per week. The
manufacturer, in turn, is to supply a
leading upscale New York chain store
and a food service supplier with the new
product. Rita thinks that she will be
milking 300 head by 1993.
If some dairy farmers have been
heard to proclaim a preference for
gravedigging over twice-daily milking,
what is it that motivates the Kelloggs?
Why would Russ work another job all
day at Candor High School and then go
home to more work in the barn? Why
would Rita give up suburban New
Jersey and bloody her knuckles digging
a trench to get ready for pouring a new
floor for an expanded milking parlor?
"You raise different kids this way,"
Rita says, referring to her children, not
the livestock. "It's important. Oh yes,
it's important. Parents who work away
from home don't see their kids the same
way. They get home and they're worn
out. They may pick up their kids at the
day-care center at 5 o'clock, and then
the kids are off to bed at 8. They might
see them for three stressful, frustrating
hours. It's sad, isn't it?"
"This is a family business," asserts
Rita. Goat farming is not easy, but for
Rita Kellogg, farming, her family, and
Candor fit together into a life that
makes sense in a way that her life in
suburban New Jersey never did.

A Matter of Choice
Frank McDonald runs an 85-ewe
sheep farm in the hills above the
village. He used to operate a small
heavy-equipment and bulldozing
company on Long Island and would
pass by Candor as he traveled to a
hunting cabin in neighboring Spencer.
As the years passed, he and his wife,

John Boust's form life in Condor is worlds owoy from his challenging research position at the State University of New York in Binghamton. The
quality of life offered in rural America is the setting in which the Bausts want to raise their family.

Flo, decided to start anew in the
country. They found a long-obsolete
dairy farm and bought a starter flock of
sheep from a young couple whose
marriage and sheep-farming dreams
had eroded. Failure is a part of life in
these hardpan hills that run south to
the Susquehanna from the Finger
Frank's machinery experience comes
in handy for putting up 80 acres of hay
a year. Some goes to his sheep, and
some goes to wholesale buyers who
truck it to New Jersey horse owners or
Pennsylvania mushroom growers for
mulch. Flo works evenings at a nursing
home 15 miles away. A daughter and a
son are away at college, and another
daughter lives close by.
Frank says that he is not looking to
make a living with his sheep. It is
where he wants to be, the way he wants
to be: in Candor, on a farm, farming.

Norman Rockwell, Were You There?
John Baust looked over his shoulder
for Norman Rockwell the first summer
he moved to Candor. Given a chance for
a challenging research position at the
State University of New York at
Binghamton, John and his wife, Judy,
eagerly left Houston, TX, to return to
part-time beef farming in south-central
New York.
Within weeks the new arrivals were
contacted to judge the homemade floats
in the Candor Fourth of July parade.
"Wow," John thought. "What a friendly
community." But when he accepted, the
caller said, "What a relief! I couldn't get
anybody else to do it!"
"Still," says Baust, "I was struck by
her unvarnished honesty. No
While the American Legion honor
guard lined up for the parade and the
high school band strained to behave,

Alternative Farming, Alternative Place

John and Judy looked at each other and
shared the same thought: "This is
straight out of a Norman Rockwell
"Moving to Candor was a matter of
values for us," says John. "We believe
strongly in the importance of closeness
of family, of developing the minds of the
next generation, and we think a rural
environment is the best place to do it."
The Bausts acted on their values by
bringing three young teenagers and 100
head of Holstein beef steers to an out-of-
business hilltop dairy farm. They used
the Holsteins as a cheap way to build
equity, and they now are cashing them
in for about 25 to 30 Angus, which are
more expensive.
The biggest enterprise on the farm is
hay, 160 acres of it, most of which is
wholesaled. The Bausts put up 10,000
bales their first summer and 25,000 the
second. They aspire to 50,000 bales.
Son John does morning barn chores.
Daughters Jessica and Christy take the
afternoon shift. "We try to reward the
children well," says John. "They see the
payoff from their work."
The Bausts planted 9,000 pine and
spruce trees in the spring of 1990 with
the help of a tree-planting machine
rented from the local soil and water
conservation district. They plan to plant
more. Also keeping this family farm in
business is the sale of cutting rights to
two commercial firewood sellers and the
sale of hunting rights for 2 months a
year during turkey and deer seasons to
a hunting guide business recently
established in Candor by a school-
teacher turned entrepreneur.

Dad Always Wanted a Farm
Henry Del Mauro thought he had
retired from his East Paterson, NJ,
wholesale greenhouse and florist

business. However, as his
son Alan recalls, "Dad
always wanted to have a
farm, and I always
encouraged him."
When Henry bought
retirement property in
Candor and built a house
"on the mountaintop," Alan
and brother-in-law Clark
Rickens wished aloud that
they might share utopia.
So Henry cut a deal for the
younger generation. He
started Del Rick Farms, a
new greenhouse business
for all three families. Clark
built a new home there,
and Alan built a log home
and planted Christmas Henry Del Mauro,
trees. business in the quie
That was in 1972, the
eve of the shortages and
price rises for fuel, so essential for
heating greenhouses and for
transporting plants and flowers the 5
hours from Candor through the Poconos
to New Jersey and Manhattan. Cost-of-
production analysis told Henry that
growing for the Easter market, once an
attractive winter proposition, was
running him into the red. The family
decided to shut down for the winter.
Alan says that the decision saved the
business, but it meant a kind of layoff
for Clark, who withdrew and moved his
family back to New Jersey to accept a
job in the corporate world.
"I could have stayed in New Jersey,"
says Alan. "I had a good-paying job in a
steel mill. But it's not what I wanted.
It's peaceful here. The whole point of
this business is to be here, in the

f Del Rick Farms in Candor, began a wholesale greenhouse and florist
t hills outside of town following his move from urban life.

Fish Farming
Buying a place in the country and
starting a fish farm was Rick Musa's
American dream.
Prompted by a passion for fishing,
the young IBM executive bought some
hilltop land with a 4-acre pond in
Candor and simply enjoyed it. He
decided to put in some pickerel. He
went to a big hatchery in Pennsylvania,
and while waiting for the fish, he had a
look around and got talking to the
elderly founder of the hatchery, who
had built the business from nothing to
worldwide marketing.
"For the next 2 years," recalls Musa,
"I was thinking, 'Why can't I do this?'
And then I got my hatchery license.
Those first few years, all I did was build
cages, chase the fry in a boat, net 'em,
throw 'em in cages, and sell 'em. I didn't
do anything, really."
Marketing was remarkably easy and
"pretty helter-skelter," Musa says. As

Part II Farming

part of the licensing process, the State
developed and published a licensed
hatchery list. Anyone who wanted a few
hundred fish for a pond simply would
call him up. He also put a small
advertisement in a local newspaper. In
1984 a nearby county soil and water
conservation district placed a bulk order
with him for its cooperating land-
owners. By 1987 two more conservation
districts had signed on, and three more
joined in 1988. Today he says, "I really
don't want any more. I just want to
perfect what I'm doing."
A milestone in his attempt to perfect
his technique came in 1985, when he
won a research and development grant
from the New York State Department of
Agriculture and Markets. The money
went into bulldozing and piping for a
series of four knee-deep raceways into
which ordinary livestock fertilizer is
cast to promote plant and fish growth.
Musa is enthusiastic about the
future of fish farming: "I think there's a
lot of potential in this fish farming
business, but you gotta have capital. It's
like anything else. Nothing's easy."
As busy as fish farming has kept
Musa, it is not everything: "This isn't
my living. I don't have the time. What
I'm doing is what I have the time to do.
It's not just money that I do this for. It's
for some money-and fish."

Farmers' Market Sales
Earl Bolton has been selling honey
and "anything else we could find" at the
Ithaca Farmers' Market for about 15
years. "I'm technically retired," he says,
but he finds it hard to say just when he
made the transition from one job to the
other or from farming to retirement.
As a schoolboy, living on his father's
farm at Tuttle Hill, Bolton did the usual
array of farm chores. He and his

brother would go out in the dark of the
morning to light gas lamps to regulate
day length for their 500 hens. They had
no electricity then. He remained on the
family farm until World War II gave
him a chance to leave Candor. If the
Wehrmacht had aimed better, he might
not have had the choice of returning,
but after recuperation in England, in
1945 he came back to the family farm.
It was not long before Bolton
discovered that he had to supplement
farming with other jobs. He drove a
schoolbus; worked part time and full
time at a school, a sawmill, a foundry, a
freezer plant, and a hatchery; and for 4
years he drove 20 miles a day to work
as a janitor at Cornell University.
Bolton finally got laid off, but he says
that he was ready to quit anyway.
During those later years Bolton
began to sell as often as he could at the
Ithaca Farmers' Market. He takes
honey to market twice a week, some-
times some beeswax. He makes a little
maple sugar, too, and grows a few
parsnips for the early season markets
"just to help the market along, so's
they'll have something to offer." When
spent hens are ready for retirement,
they end up butchered and offered at
the market, but these days just a few-
nothing like the numbers he had years
ago. He still shows exotic poultry at the
State fair and hatches out some to sell.
"My daughter helps me at the
farmers' market every week now on
Saturday. She started with fudge, then
added some cookies and doughnuts.
Most of them are bought and eaten as
snacks right at the market. "Once in a
while I'll make a few wooden belt
buckles or something. Might as well.
You have to have a shop on a farm
anyway. Might as well make use of it."
Across the road, in what was once an
ornate showplace Victorian barn, Bolton

keeps a couple of Jersey cows for home
use. A dozen sheep are up on the slope,
mostly to keep the brush down. He does
not know whether they are paying their
way or not. It doesn't matter: "Whatever
is up there for feed is what they get."
Bolton recognizes that farming
Tuttle Hill has its disadvantages: "Oh,
it's a hard farm to work all right, most
of it being hill the way it is. There's a
certain amount of inconvenience with
that. I remember a neighbor saying his
place was too small to farm and too big
to garden. Sounds about like this place."
Nevertheless, he remains attached to
the place: "Guess I never saw a place I
liked any better. It's awful pretty here,
the different seasons and all. I like
having everything all fresh and new in
the spring after a hard winter."

Skip Jackson keeps needing to expand his greenhouse business,
Iron Kettle Form, to keep up with customer demand. During various
times of the year the Jacksons also operate a "pick-your-own"
business for various types of produce.

Alternative Forming, Alternative Place

Cliff and Debbie Van Till:

A California Family Finds Out What "Organic" Really Means

One day in late March 1990, a weak
Pacific storm is breaking up over
central California. Starch-white cherry
blossoms are in full bloom. And Cliff
Van Till is figuring out how to deal with
a gopher problem.
"They like the onions," Cliff sighs. "I
think that's their favorite food."
The San Joaquin County farmer
certainly won't stay in business very
long with an army of underground
thieves stealing his crop, so he must get
rid of them.
A number of synthetic rodenticides
might do the job, but Cliff has to find
something else.
Cliff is a "certified" organic farmer.
Either he sticks to the strict
requirements of his trade association-
the California Certified Organic
Farmers-or he loses his certification.
Under a 1979 California law, farmers
like Cliff Van Till can become "certified"
by trade groups like CCOF simply by
adhering to the organic code of conduct.
Essentially, "organic" in California
means that most synthetically
compounded materials cannot be used
in the production, harvest, storage,
transport, or retail process.
Strychnine, a highly toxic substance,
can be used to "organically" poison
Cliffs gophers. Ironically, less toxic
compounds cannot be used by organic
farmers simply because they are
synthetically derived.
"The logic seems to be that just
because it's 'natural' it's somehow
better, safer," he says. "There definitely
are some head-scratchers, but you've
got to play by the rules."

by John Stumbos, Public Information
Representative, University of California,
Davis, CA

Such is one of the many dilemmas in
the evolving world of organic farming.
But Cliff and his wife Debbie are
committed to making it work.
So far, they've been very successful.

Going Organic
The Van Tills have not always been
organic farmers. In fact, they would be
more aptly described as "transitional"
farmers. In addition to 40 acres of
strawberries, garlic, onions, radishes,
sweet corn, broccoli, tomatoes, and
other organically grown crops, they also
conventionally farm 150 acres of
almonds and 120 acres of feed crops for
his family's dairy.
Cliffs grandfather immigrated from
Holland and started a dairy just outside
of Ripon, in the valley-long before
anyone made distinctions between
organic and conventional. The Van Till
dairy, now run by Cliffs father, is
surrounded by orchards and vineyards.
It is just down the street from Cliff and
Debbie's organic onions.
Debbie grew up in Orange County,
where a thriving citrus industry was
Being squeezed out by relentless
Southern California urban sprawl. She
"always knew" she wanted to be a
farmer, so she studied farm manage-
ment at California Polytechnic State
University in San Luis Obispo. Upon
graduation she took a job at a seed
company in Yolo County. There, she
met Cliff through her involvement in
the Farm Bureau's young farmers and
ranchers leadership program.
"I always wanted to do something
more dynamic than raise corn and
alfalfa for the dairy," Cliff says. "But I
didn't have much experience with
vegetables, let alone think about
growing them organically."

Ten years ago, as Cliff completed a
farm management degree at California
State University, Fresno, few people in
the Nation's agricultural colleges and
universities were taking organic
agriculture very seriously. Fortunately
for the Van Tills, an idealistic and
dedicated group of believers had begun
an organic demonstration farm in
nearby French Camp.
"Cliff and Debbie came by and
started asking a lot of questions about
insects and fertility," recalls Mark Van
Horn, who at that time comanaged the
17-acre site. "I'd describe Cliff as
'skeptically curious.' It was pretty
obvious he wasn't at all convinced that
organic was going to work, but he's
Cliff apparently had seen enough to
give it a shot. "Cliff came home one day
and said, You're looking at an organic
farmer,'" Debbie remembers.

A Tough Start
"We started with broccoli," Cliff says.
"I distinctly remember it didn't do well."
The Van Tills just leveled the ground
and planted the broccoli. But they
planted too many seeds and they
planted them too deep. Cliff had to go
back later and virtually weed out the
extra seedlings with tweezers.
One thing farming organically means
is that none of the convenient herbi-
cides that modern agriculture has come
to rely on are allowed. So Cliff and
Debbie learned how to deal with weeds
the old-fashioned way.
"In the beginning I was out there
every day, 6 hours a day, hand hoeing,"
Debbie recalls.
The same nonsynthetic stipulation
also means no quick nitrogen fixes for
the soil. "I couldn't just go out and

Part II Farming

pump it full of fertilizer," Cliff
says of the land.
Cliff has since planted
blackeyed peas, vetch, and
crotalaria, a tropical legume.
It's part of a University of
California study on sustain-
able agriculture. One day the
neophyte organic farmers met
the harlequin bug, an insect
most commonly found in
backyard gardens, but a
voracious consumer of broc-
coli. "It ate the whole plant,"
Cliff recalls. "It would take a
nice big plant and chew it
right down to the stalk."
Help came from another
organic farmer in the area.
He told Cliff and Debbie that
a common soap would take
care of the bug problem. So
Debbie went out and bought
four boxes of the stuff. Cliff
mixed it up in the spray
rig... and it worked!

A Volatile Organic
The Van Tills were able to
harvest a crop-even though
the harlequin bug had eaten
half of it. "It's probably safe to
say it was disastrous," Cliff
says, "but the price of organic
broccoli was high." The Van Till
The Van Tills were told practice, org
that the "gravy years" of are excluded
super-high market prices
were over when they went organic, but
that did not stop them. Indeed, organic
produce still fetches a significant
premium over conventionally raised
fruits and vegetables, prompting
growers large and small to hang up

family, of San Joaquin County, CA (L-R: Jason, Cliff, Jamie, and Debbie) believe
anic forming. In California, produce is "organic" when most synthetically compo
'from use in the production, harvest, storage, transport, or retail process.

their farm chemical caps for good.
"Some of those prices I've been
embarrassed to ask," Cliff says, "even
though I've needed to."
Originally, Cliff and Debbie sold
their broccoli through the Stockton
Farmers' Cooperative, which filled a

S void created when a number
of local wholesalers went
out of business. But the
cooperative disbanded. Now
the couple sells either to
farmers' markets in the
area or directly to whole-
salers and retailers
throughout the State.
The lack of an efficient
distribution system for
organic farmers in many
areas continues to hamper
the industry.
Desmond Jolly, a
consumer economist with
the University of California,
found that one of the main
things that turned off retail
supermarket chains to
organic produce is inconsis-
tent supply. Consequently,
some retailers who only
recently began offering
organic and other
"pesticide-free" produce
have begun scaling back
their organic offerings.
"In retrospect, I think I
i would have started more
slowly," Cliff says. "People
told us to get as big a mix
as we could, but as far as
the wholesalers are con-
cerned it's easier to deal
with one pallet of broccoli
in, and than a dozen different
undedmaterials vegetables."
The Van Tills continually
work on finding the best
mix of vegetables for them, and
undoubtedly that will change along
with the market.
"From an efficiency standpoint," Cliff
says, "we're better off with fewer
vegetables, since each one has its own

A California Family Finds Out What "Organic" Really Means

nutritional requirements, water needs,
and pest problems."

The Predators Cometh
There is little doubt the Van Tills
will continue to grow organically. They
are also exploring alternative methods
of growing their conventional crops.
Cliff nods toward his almond orchard.
"With an annual crop like nuts you
can't play games. You've got to make
intelligent decisions, but I wouldn't be
surprised if eventually we're organic
over there."
Indeed, they have already begun to
wean themselves from pesticides-
synthetic or otherwise-in their almond
"We're going on a predator release
program this summer," Cliff says. A
new agricultural consulting firm in the
area will release parasitic wasps,
lacewings, and predator mites to control
the Van Till's biggest almond pests-
mites, navel orange worm, and peach
twig borer.

In neighboring Merced County, a
University of California farm advisor
has been monitoring two brothers who
grow almonds-one with pesticides, one
without. The advisor determined that
while the organic grower harvested less
crop, his costs were also lower. The
bottom line is that financially they were
in about the same position.
Cliff hears this and shakes his head.
"If you're not forced to go organic,
then why go through all the headaches
to get to the same point?" he asks.
"These are the questions farmers are
asking themselves."

Why Bother?
Why do the Van Tills farm organic-
ally? "We have a religious perspective,"
Cliff says. "And we want to be good
stewards of the earth."
There is also a good, secular reason
to farm organically. "The day is going to
come when we won't have chemicals,"
Cliff believes. "We may not have the
political clout to farm the way we do
now. We need to be farsighted."
Like most farmers-organic or
conventional-Van Till is frustrated

with the public's lack of understanding
about what those who till the earth
really do and why they do it.
"Farmers didn't start out buying
chemicals 'just because.' The bottom
line is that we're dealing with economic
realities and you'd better make a profit
at the end of the season or you're going
to be out of business."
Agricultural chemicals reduce the
need for labor, which is the biggest
single cost for most farmers.
"I can't see the whole Salinas Valley
being hoed," Debbie says. "Fewer people
are willing to do manual labor, and it
takes a certain amount of time to do
these things."
"Agriculture needs to keep seeking
alternatives." Cliff adds. "But we're not
going to get off the chemical bandwagon
Meanwhile, people like the Van Tills
often find themselves making "seat of
the pants" decisions. "We just take our
lumps and keep stabbing at it," Cliff
says. "Every year it gets a little easier."

Port II Farming

Leroy Werremeyer:

Keeping a Record on an Illinois Grain Farm

Sunday morning, 11 a.m.: Five of the
farmers who work the Sidney United
Church's farm ground are debating
whether to sell a portion of it.
"How many bushels did we get off
the east piece last year?" asks Carl
"I'm not sure," says Kenny
Katterhenry, another of the farmers
who plant, cultivate, and harvest the
church land. "But Leroy's probably got
it down." To which Leroy Werremeyer
responds, "I'll look that up when I get
Werremeyer has been "keeping track
of things" for almost 40 years, main-
taining a journal of daily events since
he graduated from high school. Do you
want to know when the devastating
hailstorm of 1974 hit? (June 29 at 5:30
p.m.) Or how about the big ice storm?
(January 1967) How many weeks did it
take to restore phone service after the
storm? (Four) Ask Leroy. And people do
ask. More often than not, he says,
people call on him to help settle an
Keeping the journal helps Leroy
plan for the coming season. "It's hard to
remember just how well a particular
variety of corn did. A guy tends to
forget over the winter how well it
shucked. Plus, it's fun to look back and
see what I did a year ago today," he
says. Werremeyer usually takes a few
minutes at the end of each day to
write down the highlights-a short
paragraph, sometimes two.
Leroy Werremeyer, his wife Joyce,
and their two sons (Randy, 27, and Tim,
25) farm approximately 875 acres near

by Kevin Erb, Senior in Agricultural
Communications, University of Illinois,
Urbana, IL

"I intend to be here as long as I'm able to drive a tractor, and then some," says Leroy Werremeyer of farming his 875 acres near Sidney, IL.

Sidney in Champaign County, IL.
Theirs is a grain operation, with
approximately 400 acres in corn and
about the same acreage in soybeans.
Forty acres of wheat and another 40
acres of Government set-aside make up
the rest of the farm.
The Werremeyer farm is a family
farm. Clarence, Leroy's father, lives just
up the road and still helps out, although
he retired from farming for health
reasons in 1976. Tim and Randy also
lend a hand, although Tim works full
time in nearby Champaign and Randy
farms another 400 acres of his own.
Randy can be seen at work on the
tractor or combine during the planting
or harvest season. Joyce, Randy, or Tim
can be seen hauling the corn to the

Twenty percent of the Werremeyers'
corn acreage is under contract to Frito-
Lay, which has a processing plant
nearby. When the plant first came into
the area, the family planted about 50
percent of their corn crop for it.
Although Frito-Lay pays a premium for
food-grade corn, Leroy says that the
extra work and lower yields make it
impractical to commit all corn
production to it.

Leroy Werremeyer does not work
the same land as his grandparents and
great grandparents did. Compared with
some of their neighbors, the Werre-
meyers are newcomers. Leroy's parents
worked as hired hands on several farms

Keeping a Record on an Illinois Grain Farm

near Sidney from the time they were
married until 1945, when Leroy was 10
years old, and they began farming on
their own.
Like other local farmers, the
Werremeyers maintained a diversity of
livestock. They milked five Guernsey
cows until the early 1950's, when they
switched to raising Angus. In high
school, Leroy raised sheep for his FFA
and 4-H projects. "Livestock's OK," says
Leroy, "but they're too much work.
There's one thing about livestock I don't
miss-making hay."

Ironically, making hay is what Leroy
did after graduation from high school.
He joined the National Guard, which
gave him some time at home, so he
purchased a baler and did custom
baling during the summer. After
serving in the Guard, he decided to
become a farmer. "Actually, I never
thought about anything else-never
considered another vocation," Leroy
The following spring, 1955, Leroy
rented 20 acres, planting it all in corn.
"I got an awfully small check for 20
acres of corn," he recalls. He
rented 240 more acres the
next year. "Labor was my
main expense," he says. "It
wasn't near as expensive to
start farming then. Plus, you
could do custom work for
those who hadn't yet bought
the newer equipment."

Staying Out of Trouble
Some 30 years later, the
first "Farm Aid" concert was
held 20 miles from-and in
sight of-the Werremeyer
farm, at the University of
Illinois Memorial Stadium.
Yet the farm crisis was not
severe in Champaign County.
Leroy does not remember
hearing about more than a
couple of foreclosure sales in
the entire time that he has
been farming.
Leroy believes that what
kept him and other farmers
out of trouble during the farm
crisis was the ability to resist
temptation. "I'd drive by
Allerton, see a new tractor,
and say, 'Boy, I'd like to have
that.' The guys who got into

trouble said, 'Boy, I'd like to have that,'
and then went out and bought two of
them." The key, Leroy says, is to stay
out of debt: "If you can't afford it, you
don't really need it."
Leroy has seen a lot of changes in
farming and in his community in the
past 38 years. He sold the two-story
farmhouse where his sons grew up, and
it was moved 2 miles west. The barn
has been replaced by a tool shed; the old
workshop, by a new one. Good times,
bad times, easy decisions, and hard
ones are all a part of life, he says.

Lending a Helping Hand
In 1986, Leroy's church and another
church inherited a 120-acre farm. Leroy
and the members of his congregation
farm the whole thing, renting the other
church's half. Each farmer donates time
and equipment. "It didn't take long to
get the corn in with six combines going
at once," Leroy remembers.
Joint farming means sacrifice.
"There were several times when any of
us would rather have been working our
own ground," Leroy recalls, "but when
the call came saying we'd be plowing at
8 the next morning, that's what we did."
Seeing a half dozen tractors working
the same field is unusual in Champaign
County, but local farmers have worked
together before. When a neighbor broke
his leg in a farming accident in 1983,
Leroy was one of several neighbors who
worked the ground and put in the crop,
for free. Leroy says that it was nothing
special-he was just doing a good deed
for a neighbor in need.

Farming and the Environment
"When I started farming," says
Leroy, "nobody'd heard of herbicides.
When they first came out, we thought

Port II Farming

they were the greatest things-until we
actually used them." He found that
using chemicals increased the uncer-
tainty of farming: Rain or lack of it
within a few days, or working the soil
too deeply or not deeply enough could
render the chemicals ineffective.
Chemicals "may work fine on one field,
but not the one next to it," he says.
Today, Leroy does not put full faith
in chemicals, but he admits that they
are an essential part of modern farm-
ing. "Sure, we could go back to farming
without them. But you couldn't make a
living at it," he says.
To help control erosion, Leroy
gradually has gone to a reduced tillage
system-leaving part of the crop residue
on the surface to prevent erosion.
Although not all of his farmland
requires minimum tillage, he uses it on
all his acres. This system also saves

Farming and the Future
Another thing that has changed over
the years is how a farmer gets started.
Leroy says that a prospective farmer
needs someone to set him or her up
these days. Land, tools, and machinery
cost a lot more than they did in 1953.
Therefore, Leroy is helping his son
Randy get started. Currently, Randy is
farming 400 acres previously rented to
his father. Leroy says he intends to turn
over the entire operation to Randy,
though he will continue to run the
homeplace. Leroy does not intend to
retire and leave the farm.
"At my age," he says, "I don't have
the experience or desire to go back to
school. I intend to be here as long as I'm
able to drive a tractor, and then some."

Leroy Werremeyer has seen a lot of changes in farming and in his community in the past 38 years.
out of debt If you can't afford it, you don't really need it."

Keeping a Record on an Illinois Grain Form

SXney, eroy says, i 1 stay


Young Cotton Grower Finds Farming a Choice Occupation

If he could not be a farmer, there are
several other things that 31-year-old
Randy Teeter of New Deal, TX, could
He could be an automobile mechanic.
He ran a garage in that farm commu-
nity of 700 while he was still in high
He could be a drummer in a country-
western or rock band. He and some
buddies get together now and then to
entertain at parties or reunions.
He might be in law enforcement. "I
always used to think that might be my
option, but that was when I was
younger," grins the wiry young man,
lean and bronzed from hours of work on
his 800-acre cotton farm.
Then again, he might be a full-time,
paycheck-earning firefighter instead of
the State-certified volunteer that he is.
"What would I do if I had to go out of
farming?" Teeter muses, shifting his
wriggling, 6-year-old son Clay from his
knee to the floor of the family room.
Clay's 3-year-old brother, Shane,
maneuvers toward the empty knee. The
Teeters live in a comfortable brick home
bordered by cotton fields and one
neighbor. "If I could pick what I'd do, I'd
be a firefighter, but I'm not intending to
quit farming."

A Farming Tradition
Randy's family have always been
farmers, "as far back as anybody
knows." Randy is the third generation
of Teeters to farm in New Deal, 11 miles
north of Lubbock. His grandparents
moved there from Arkansas in the mid-
1940's. Randy's late father, Clayton,
produced cotton, grain sorghum, and

by Joseph J. Bryant, Communications Specialist,
Texas Agricultural Extension Service,
Lubbock, TX

Farming the arid west Texas landscape north of Lubbock is nothing
new to the Teeter family. Randy Teeter is the third generation of
Teeters to form in this area.

soybeans on much of the same 800 acres
that Randy tends today on the broad,
flat, high plains of West Texas.
"Overall, it's about the same opera-
tion," Randy says. In addition to the
land owned by his widowed mother,
Randy farms other acres that he leases.
Randy plants proven cotton varieties,
uses soil tests to determine precise
nutrient needs, and uses furrow dikes
in his fields to retain the area's limited
rainfall. He carefully scouts his fields
for insects and uses integrated pest
management to cut down on pesticide
use. He works with his County Agent,
testing varieties and demonstrating
new methods to other producers.

Growing Up
Randy was part of the family
operation from an early age. "The first
thing I did was probably hoe cotton," he
recalls. "I started driving the tractor
when I was about 12."
At New Deal High School, Randy
played drums, trumpet, and baritone in
the band. "They had FFA, but I wasn't
involved. I wasn't an athlete, and I sure
wasn't a scholar," he confesses. "No, he
was a rebel," laughs his wife, Gayla,
shifting just out of reach, her eyes
sparkling. Throughout high school,
Randy continued to help out on the
family farm "when I had time."
"I was a mechanic," he explains. "As
a matter of fact, I ran a garage here in
New Deal my senior year of high school.
I had this '69 El Camino. It was green-
a light, kind of apple green. Well, it
ended up dark green . ." It is
apparent that Randy remembers that
El Camino better than his father's
cotton crop.
"When I graduated in 1976," Randy
says, "I tried some 8-to-5 work at a
garage in Lubbock. About 6 months was
all I could take. In December, my dad's
hired hand quit. I told him he didn't
have to look for another; he already had
one. I'd had all that other life I needed."

In 1977, smalltown farm boy Randy
met city girl Gayla in Lubbock, metro-
politan "Hub of the Plains" with a
population of 190,000. "He was cruising'
the Sonic," Gayla laughs, referring to a
drive-in restaurant that was a popular
meeting place for teenagers. Actually,
they were introduced by one of her
Monterey High School classmates who
knew Randy.

Part II Farming

"My parents were from farm fami-
lies," says Gayla. "My dad farmed years
ago, but had quit before my two sisters
and I were born, so we were never
around it." Her introduction to farm life
came when she and Randy married in
"The first year was the hardest," she
recalls. "The year before we got
married, Randy hardly had to work at
all; he had lots of time for me." That
brings a snort from Randy, who ex-
plains, "That was one of those years it
rained. We didn't have to water much."
And without wells to check and irriga-
tion pipe to move, he did have a little
extra time for courting.
"Then, the first year we were
married, it was dry, dry, dry. We ran
the wells all summer," Randy recalls.
"And on weekends," Gayla frowns, "he
always had to run the sandfighter"
(tillage equipment used to reduce
erosion of the sandy soils by the strong
West Texas winds). The hardest thing
to get used to that first year, she says,
"was the uncertainty about money-and
the strange hours."
"Now it's 7 to 7 some days, and some
days it's later, some days earlier,"
Randy observes. "And some days, it's
not at all-maybe that's what I like
most about farming, right there." He
turns to see whether Gayla has risen to
the bait. She lets it pass, observing, "I
think what he really likes most is being
his own boss."
Now Randy is assistant chief of the
well-trained, 20-member New Deal
Volunteer Fire Department, president
of the Lubbock County Volunteer
Firefighters Association, and an
instructor on transport fires for the
regional schools conducted at Lubbock
by Texas A&M University. Three-
quarters of his Tuesday nights belong to

the fire department-business meetings
and training.
For serious relaxation, Randy grabs
his rod and reel and looks for the
nearest bass tournament. He is a
member of Lubbock Bassmasters, an
organization that holds tournaments
at nearby lakes. "The best lake I've
fished-but I hate the driving, I hate
the driving, I hate the driving-is Lake
Amistad," Randy muses. Lake Amistad
is on the Mexican border near Del Rio,
TX, 360 miles from New Deal.
The family enjoys a lot of activities
together, including some of the bass
tournaments. But all the activities-
except answering the fire alarm-take
second place to the whims of King

Making Cotton Work
Since 1983, Randy has farmed on his
own and known the uncertainties of the
West Texas wind, hail, drought, and

The Texas South Plains, which
produce almost a fourth of the Nation's
cotton, enjoyed a near-record year in
1988. That year Randy averaged almost
800 pounds of lint to the acre. "And
1987 was pretty good, too," he recalls.
"But 1989 was lousy. I harvested half
what I did the year before." A June 1
hailstorm took 110 of Randy's acres of
young cotton, and continuing rain
prevented replanting until June 8,
when he "tracked through mud" to put
in a shorter-season variety with good
yield potential. More cool, wet days
caused blight.
It is because of years like 1989-
which sometimes come in bunches-
that Gayla has kept her job as assistant
office manager at the Texas A&M
University Agricultural Research and
Extension Center just down Interstate
27 in Lubbock. Nevertheless, neither
Gayla nor Randy would swap the
challenges and the opportunities of the
farm, not even for a 40-hour workweek
or the regular paycheck of a fireman.

in lubbock, TX, inspects a cotton sample from a recent harvest.

Young Cotton Grower Finds Farming a Choice Occupation

Carroll and Evelyn Kepler:

Dairy Farming Where the Glaciers Parted

Carroll Kepler, Jr., was born and
reared on a family farm near Sabin in
western Richland County, in the heart
of the unglaciated region of south-
western Wisconsin. Evelyn Getter grew
up in the next county. Carroll and
Evelyn were married in 1947. In this
challenging, demanding farming region
they have been successful as a family,
as dairy farmers, and as citizens of their
community. Their five children are all
married, and the two sons are taking
over leadership in the family's farming

Farming in Southwestern Wisconsin
Where Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa,
and Illinois lock together like pieces of a
giant jigsaw puzzle along the Missis-
sippi River, some 40 counties lie
untouched, or nearly untouched, by the
leveling and smoothing of the last North
American glaciers some 14,000 years
ago. The glacier parted in west-central
Wisconsin, to merge again about 200
miles farther south in northwestern
Illinois and eastern Iowa.
The topography of that former island
in the sea of ice now ranges from merely
hilly in the lightly glaciated fringes to
downright steep in the untouched
"coulee region" near the Mississippi.
The broader ridgetops are cultivated,
almost always on the contour, with strip
crops to reduce soil and water loss.
Rotations emphasize alfalfa, small
grains, and corn. The wider valleys are
also cultivated, but the steeper hillsides
are maintained in permanent pasture
or woods. Less than half the farmland
in the area is in cultivated crops.

by William E. Soupe, Professor of Agricultural
Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison,

Carroll Kepler, Jr., and his wife, Evelyn, have weathered the demands of dairy forming in southwestern Wisconsin to create and maintain a
successful dairy business large enough to effectively employ all interested family members.

This part of Wisconsin is difficult to
farm successfully. Yet Carroll and
Evelyn Kepler and their family have
"Getting started in farming here
probably never has been easy," reflects
Carroll. "When I was growing up on our
home farm it seems like we had a little
bit of everything-cows, hogs, chickens,
a big garden. We even made our own
maple syrup. Being self-sufficient
probably was important back then, and
that's the way all the farms were. But
in this area, a good dairy herd is the
way to get ahead."

Why Farming Is a Challenge Here
Topography in this area demands the
raising of forage crops in order to
conserve the land. But forage crops are
difficult to market because of their
bulkiness and weight. Such crops are
usually fed to ruminant animals on the
farms where the crops are harvested,
because ruminants, particularly dairy
cows, consume large quantities of forage
To add to the challenge, it costs more
money to set up a dairy farm in this
part of the Midwest. Sizable invest-
ments are needed, not only for the dairy
cattle, but also for a variety of farm

Port II Farming

machinery. With a relatively short
growing season, the Keplers also needed
to invest heavily in silos and other
structures to store the 7- or 8-month
feed supply needed between the end of
summer and the next harvest season.
Winters are cold in southwestern
Wisconsin, with temperatures
commonly dropping below zero degrees
Fahrenheit. Thus, the Keplers' dairy
animals must be housed in substantial
(expensive) barns or sheds for protec-
tion. Inside these buildings is an
expensive and complicated-looking
system of specialized equipment for
milking and animal care, and for
cooling and storing milk.
But that is not all.
Dairy farming is also labor intensive.
People who are knowledgeable and
skilled in animal care and dairy
husbandry must be actively involved
with the herd every day. As on most
dairy farms, milking on the Kepler farm
takes place twice a day, every day, year-
round. Including feed production, it
takes one full-time worker for about
every 40 cows on a Wisconsin dairy

Growth of the Kepler Family Farm
As was expected of all farm children
in the area where he was born, Carroll
helped out on his parents' farm while
growing up. He climbed onto the lower
rungs of the "agricultural ladder" as a
young adult, when he became a wage
worker on the farm.
After Carroll and Evelyn were
married, they rented the home farm
from Carroll's parents. They became
owners of their own dairy farm in 1952.
Evelyn taught school then, before the
children arrived.
The children, as they became old
enough, acquired purebred Holstein

heifers as 4-H projects. These were the
first purebreds in what is now an all-
registered herd. As Ron and Kevin
increased their involvement in the farm,
their parents expanded operations, and
the farm was incorporated in 1979.
"Not many young people are getting
started in dairy farming now," says
Kevin. "The way we're doing it, getting
started with our dad, is probably how
new people are going to get into
Expanding a farming business by
consolidating nearby farms into one
operation does not work as well in hilly
southwestern Wisconsin as it does in the
cash grain areas of the State and
elsewhere in the Midwest. Roads follow
ridgetops and valleys, so access to fields
on the "second story" of a typical
ridgetop and valley farm may involve
considerable travel. Reaching cropland
on an "adjacent" farm may in fact
involve extensive travel, with machinery
and equipment.

There are other difficulties in consoli-
dating dairy farms.
On grain farms, economies of size are
readily captured by acquiring more land
to farm with an already mobile set of
tractors and crop machinery. However,
combining two adjacent dairy farms
provides little economic advantage
without extensive additions to the set of
specialized buildings and equipment on
one farm or the other.
For the Keplers, putting together a
dairy farm business large enough to
effectively employ all interested family
members meant creating a new farm in
the early 1970's, with a new set of
buildings that could accommodate the
scale of operation needed.
"When we knew we had to expand,"
Carroll said, "I looked around a lot. Then
I bought the two adjacent 160's (160-acre
farms) where we're located now.
"We laid all 320 acres out in strip
crops on the contour. The soil is a loess,
blown in by the wind a long time ago,

me romscnarme aorm Tnor torrot Aepier, Jr., purcnasea m neap reoae nis ramiy s successTru airy business is a Tr cry raom me moaern
operation the Keplers have developed over the years.

Dairy Farming Where the Glaciers Parted

and it was laid down like drifts of snow.
Some places it's shallow, but in others
it's several feet deep. If you take care of
it and farm it right, it will do well for
The only usable building was the
former dairy barn. That was remodeled
to house young heifers. A silo was added
to store feed for those animals. In
several stages, the construction project
included a machine shed, a new dairy
barn with 119 stanchions, four silos,
and a mechanical feeding system, not to
mention three new houses.
Over time, two additional contiguous
farms were added, plus some land
farther away.
The farm now contains about 600
crop acres, with from 150 to 200 acres of
corn each year and the remainder in
alfalfa and nurse crops. The Kepler
herd is about four times the size of an
average dairy herd in Wisconsin.
Production per cow is 30 percent above
the State average.
The Keplers' dairy herd is among the
largest 3 or 4 percent in Wisconsin.
Their breeding cattle have been sold in
many other States and in Brazil, Japan,
China, Korea, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia,
Egypt, and other countries. Visitors
have been welcomed to the Kepler farm
from around the world.

Community Leaders
The Kepler family has served the
Richland community in many ways.
Carroll has served as a director for the

production credit association and
the Land-O-Lakes dairy
cooperative, as an elected
member of the Richland County
Board, and as a member of the
tri-State breeders sire selection
committee. He was an Extension
farm management aide for 9
years in the University of
Wisconsin Extension program
for small, beginning, and
limited-resource farmers.
Evelyn Kepler returned to
school 9 years ago-teaching
kindergarten in the Kickapoo
School in Viola. Both Keplers
have been active as 4-H leaders
and in Extension activities.
Maynard Nelson, former area
Extension farm management
agent, says, "Carroll helped a lot
of younger farmers figure their
way through the tough financial
times in the mid-1980's. A lot of
people were able to stick it out
and make it because of the Holsteins a
advice and encouragement they Wisconsin.
got from his visits."
Carroll still is sought out for advice
and counsel by many young farmers.
Carroll and Evelyn live on the
headquarters farm, as do Kevin and his
wife Joan. Ron and wife Julie live about
halfway between the farm and Richland
Center, where Julie is director of the
medical technology department in the
The Keplers' oldest child, Connie,
and her husband operate their own
dairy farm a few miles away, near
Richland Center.

Two other daughters, Julie and Jill,
are also married. Julie and her husband
live in Iowa, and Jill and her husband
live in northcentral Wisconsin.
"The grandchildren-five of them-
are too young to help much or take
responsibility on the farm now," reports
Ron. "But when they get older, and if
they're still interested, I guess there
will be a place for them."

Part II Farming


Portrait of a Wheat Farmer

His white muttonchop whiskers
make Joe Jagger stand out in a crowd.
So does his enthusiasm for farming.
"I've never been bored," the 69-year-
old Jagger says. "I've been overwhelmed
a few times, but never bored."
Now he is getting out of farming. His
machinery should be sold by the time
this Yearbook is published.
Joe is the third generation of his
family to work this north-central
Kansas farm. None of his three sons-
John, Jim, or Craig-wants to work the
1,600 acres. So, the machinery is being
sold and the land leased to others.
That's all right with Joe. His own
decision to farm was made only after
careful consideration.
John operates a farm-based T-shirt
company. Jim is a "circuit rider" for the
Kansas Arts Commission's rural arts
program. Craig is an agricultural
economist with the Agricultural
Stabilization and Conservation Service
in Washington, DC.
"I had the privilege of doing what I
wanted to do in life. They should too,"
Joe muses. "I wanted to be a farmer.
They don't.
"For me, it was always a challenge to
get up in the morning and see what the
day brought."
But many of those days can be all-
"During planting in the fall and
harvest in the summer, the wheat takes
priority over everything," Joe says.
"They are intense periods. Fourteen-
hour days are not unusual.
"When our three sons were at home,
we kept the machinery running longer

by Carole A. Jordan, Public Information
Officer, Kansas State Board of Agriculture,
Topeka, KS

than that in shifts, as long as
we could. You never know
when the next cloud will
come up."
Joe was one of only a few
from his Depression-era high
school class to attend college.
He left Kansas State
University in 1943 with a
bachelor's degree in
agriculture, majoring in
agronomy. He was also
interested in radio and
theater, and played the lead
in one college play.
After college he served in
Europe during World War II.

Poetry in the Pasture
The Jagger family has a
literary tradition, and Joe
recalls his father, Fred,
quoting from Shakespeare as
they worked together fixing
fence in a quiet pasture. This
tradition is carried on by
Joe's wife, Margaret, a writer
and retired teacher. The
entire family contributes to Joe Jagger is th
John's "Pipe Creek When asked abo
Newsletter," which is replies, "I've ne
circulated to aficionados of
his T-shirt business.
The Jagger farm was homesteaded in
1866-5 years after Kansas achieved
statehood-by Captain Joseph Dawson
Jagger and his wife Catherine, a
Tennessee farm girl who taught the
city-bred Joseph to farm.
The site of the homestead is along
Pipe Creek-which but for a map-
maker's typographical error would have
been named "Pike's Creek," for Lt.
Zebulon Pike, who in 1806 passed
through the area on his way to dis-
covering Pike's Peak in Colorado. The

this life on the 1,600 acres he calls home, the 69-year-old Jagger
ver been bored. I've been overwhelmed a few times, but never bored."

creek holds an important place in
Jagger family lore and traditions, and it
contributes to the richness of the
bottomland that is farmed.
Joe has grown wheat, sorghum,
soybeans, and alfalfa commercially, and
has raised certified wheat and soybean
seed for sale.
In addition to grain farming, Joe had
a cow-calf operation from 1947 to 1983.
"This area of Kansas is good for raising
wheat and cattle," Joe says. "And that's

Portrait of a Wheat Farmer

what we should concentrate on." But a
heart attack helped him decide to get
out of the cattle business.
The farm lies geographically on the
border between the tallgrass and the
shortgrass prairies of Kansas-or
eastern and western Kansas.
"In Kansas," Jagger explains,
"rainfall ranges from an average of 36
inches a year in the east to 15 inches in
the west. With our area a transitional
one between the west and east, we
couldn't predict which kind of rainfall
we would get in a given year. So we had
to learn to farm both ways.
"With cattle and wheat both, if prices
were down on one, the other would save
you most years. Having cattle distrib-
utes the labor, too," he observes. "It
gives you something to do every day."

Educated Wheat
Joe's interest in and even fascination
with wheat-he can talk about wheat
for hours-come to him naturally. His
father began participating in the land-
grant university's program of plant
variety test plots for wheat in 1914.
This program of planting different
varieties at the same time in side-by-
side plots allows farmers and
researchers to see both differences and
similarities in performance, yield, and
disease and insect resistance. The
family called it "the educated wheat."
The Jagger farm was home to wheat
variety plots for 75 years-a record to
which no one else in the State comes
close. Years of experience with the test
plots and his own business of growing
and selling certified seed wheat have

left him wary about pronouncing any
variety better or the best.
"The best variety is always the next
one," he says. "It's a moving target. At
one time a variety from Texas called
TAM 105 looked like it might be the
best. It had some of the highest yields
ever-73 bushels per acre-at one time.
But 3 years later it was one of the
poorest varieties, because it was
susceptible to rust and leaf diseases,
and we had a damp year that encour-
aged those diseases. Another variety,
Newton, was developed with rust
resistance-but within 5 years the rust
itself had adapted so it could attack
that variety."
Planting decisions for a Kansas
wheat farmer today include waiting to
hear from the Agricultural Stabilization
and Conservation Service (ASCS) on
Government programs.
"When we get our ASCS notice, then
we decide whether to summer fallow
[take out of production] or continuous
crop," he explains. "Traditional farmers
around here still do a lot of plowing.
Continuous cropping tends to work
better here.

Conserving the Soil
"I've always been interested in soil
conservation. We were in the Dust Bowl
when I was in high school.
"I've farmed since 1946, and we had
a pretty severe drought in the mid-
1950's, when you had to keep an
implement ready to immediately
roughen the soil if it started to blow."
He's always been reluctant to burn
straw in the fields after harvesting.
"When you plow a field the next year
after turning straw under," Joe says,

"you can see the humus and where the
moisture had been held in the soil
At the same time, he sees the
benefits of leaving fields fallow during
summer. He would summer fallow his
set-aside land [removed from production
under USDA's wheat acreage reduction
program] to build up moisture reserves
and the soil.
Joe is active with the Wheat Quality
Council, an organization that unites
growers with other elements of the
wheat industry. Its goal is to improve
the quality of the Kansas-grown wheat
available to industry. It sets up testing
procedures for new varieties to make
sure wheat is of optimum quality for
milling and baking.
Joe is a man with a sense of history
and a vision for the future, as
comfortable sharing a story about his
English grandfather as he is
speculating on the importance of
certified seed wheat or why hybrid
wheats have not come into use.
Joe's retirement (he'll continue to
live on the farm) will not be total. In
addition to a long list of organizations
and interests, he will continue to serve
on the board of the Delphos State Bank
(a small but healthy agricultural bank),
and to be a member of a new company,
AGSECO, with exclusive growing and
marketing rights to some new wheat
varieties. He will continue to sell
certified wheat and soybean seed as he
has for many years.
In 1989, the year of Joe's last wheat
harvest, the Kansas Association of
Wheat Growers named him its "wheat
man of the year."

Port II Farming


Golden Rule Produces Golden Profits

Grady Auvil's 10-year-old, four-
wheel-drive American Motors Company
Eagle claws up a narrow, steep, sandy
trail cut in the side of a mountain on
the east side of the Columbia River near
the small town of Orondo, WA. The 84-
year-old's steady hand guides the
vehicle to a vista several hundred feet
above the river. There Auvil stops to
show his visitor the 200-acre home
orchard where he has farmed for 62 of
his 65 years as a grower of apples and
other fruits.
As principal owner of a corporation
that owns two orchards totaling 600
acres and that has an operating budget
of $9-12 million a year, Auvil could be
squiring his guest around in a new
pickup. The fact that his personal "get-
around" is a dusty, old car is vintage
"I get used to a car, I like to keep it,"
he says. Judging from the way the
vehicle purrs, he must treat it like a
friend when it comes to maintenance.
For 30 years, his orchard get-around
was a Model A Ford. He says that his
company has not bought more than four
or five new pickups since it was formed.
"We buy used pickups," he explains.
Auvil is not tight or lacking an
appreciation for the latest technology.
Auvil Fruit Company is a completely
modern operation, from its orchards
through packing and storage to its
marketing facilities. It is fully
computerized and communicates by
facsimile machines. On a given day, its
offices may transmit several messages
between the two orchards, which are 70
miles apart, and send or receive
facsimile messages from buyers in New

by Terence L. Day, News Writer, College of
Agriculture and Economics, Washington State
University, Pullman, WA

York, Chicago, Dallas, or even New
Zealand or London. Auvil's adrenaline
surges when he contemplates the
prospect of technological advances and
other opportunities ahead.

Overcoming Obstacles
Few of the State's apple growers
have coped with the adversity that
Auvil has conquered, and few can match
his influence on Washington's $500-
million-a-year apple industry.
He was just getting started when the
Great Depression hit. It bankrupted his
father and many other farmers, but he
He also overcame tree-
killing winter freezes in 1950, 9
1964, and 1968. He had to
relocate houses, buildings,
and part of his orchard when
the Douglas County Public
Utility District built Rocky
Reach Dam on the Columbia
River, and he lost more
orchards when the utility
district developed a public
park along the river in the
late 1970's.
There have been major
changes in the U.S. and world
fruit markets, and now
Washington's apple industry
is in the midst of severe
market woes. Through all of
these crises and more, not
only has Auvil survived, he
has also thrived.
Grady Auvil was born
December 7, 1905, in West
Virginia. He came to
Washington with his parents
in 1908 and got his start in
his father's apple orchard "An honest pro
near Entiat. In 1924, at the it's a piece of ca
age of 19, he had bought his

own 5-acre orchard at Entiat. He sold
that in 1928 to buy his first land at
Orondo, where he still farms. He was in
business with his father and two
brothers for many years, and after his
father and the younger brother died, he
bought out the other brother-who still
farms with a son just a few miles down
Auvil's business philosophy boils
down to three strategies: Practice the
golden rule, have an inquiring mind,
and take advantage of opportunities.
"The world's troubles would be very
simple if we all followed the golden
rule," he says. "If you're a fruit grower
and you follow the golden rule, you'll

iuc, an nonesr price, unmrormny, ana consisrency-wnen you oo mis,
ike, "says Grady Auvil, the principal owner of the Auvil Fruit Company.

Golden Rule Produces Golden Profits

put that fruit out the way you
personally would like to eat it, and if
you do, and deliver it to the consumer
that way, you'll have no problems. An
honest product, an honest price,
uniformity and consistency-when you
do this, it's a piece of cake."
Data and facts spew from his
memory, and his conversation is
sprinkled with frequent, easy chuckles.

Changing Times
Washington's apple image was built
on the Red Delicious variety. The State
still sells 60 million packed boxes of this
popular apple each year. Auvil, who has
marketed under the Gee Whiz trade-
mark since 1949, still has about 10
percent of his land in Red Delicious.
However, that variety is on its way out.
Most people in the Washington apple
industry associate Auvil with new apple
varieties. He was the State's leading
proponent of the now popular green

Granny Smith. In 1966 Auvil planted a
few Granny Smith trees to get some
personal experience with that variety.
He grew the apples, ate them fresh,
made applesauce out of them, stored
them, and scrutinized them at every
step. He even traveled to New Zealand
for a firsthand look at mature Granny
Smith orchards.
When Australian and New Zealand
production increased sufficiently, the
Safeway grocery store chain put Granny
Smiths in all its western supermarkets.
Within 2 years, Auvil says, every other
supermarket chain had to follow suit,
and he was ready. He harvested his
first commercial crop in 1973 and was
prepared to go full bore with the new
"We had been trained all of our
lives to believe we couldn't sell a green
apple," he chuckles. Today, Granny
Smith apples account for about 6

percent of Washington's apple
production, and they occupy 70 percent
of Auvil's acreage.
Auvil is not standing pat. He is
among the orchardists who have
introduced Gala, another newcomer to
Washington orchards, which he first
planted in 1985 and which now ac-
counts for 10 percent of the Auvil
orchards. The Gala variety comes from
New Zealand and competes in the
Golden Delicious market, which Auvil
believes will continue to grow for some
In typical Auvil style, however, the
orchardist already is pursuing yet
another variety-Fuji. He believes that
Fuji will be bigger than Granny Smith
and Gala combined, dominating world
apple production for the next 50 years
or more. Fuji is a Japanese variety
created from Red Delicious and Ralls
"There have been hundreds of apples
developed all over the world with
various breeding programs. This is the
only one that has the capacity, I think,
to fill the sweet apple gap," Auvil says.
Auvil Fruit Company will not be the
first to market Washington-grown Fuji
apples, however; a neighbor will beat
Auvil to the market by a year, in 1990.
Auvil's apple trees do not grow
straight up like most people's. In Auvil's
orchards, row upon row of trees grow
outward at a 60-degree angle, in closely
planted double rows supported on
trellises. He believes that this arrange-
ment makes better use of light and
produces more and higher quality

Cultivating Employees
Just as Auvil looks for the best apple
and the best technology, he seeks the
best people and cultivates them with all

Port II Farming

ne errorls or wasnmngon s apple producers nove creaoea a .uu-mmuno
the State.
the care he gives his orchards. Auvil
Fruit Company averages about 100
employees, with peak employment
during the packing season exceeding
200. About 30 families live permanently
on company property, and this housing
is supplemented by more than 50 trailer
homes and air-conditioned apartments
for seasonal help.
Auvil's commitment to the golden
rule is nowhere practiced more
rigorously than in its application to
employees. "Everyone who works for

i '' Auvil Fruit Company is
slightly overpaid, including
myself," he chuckles. "I
call it Fat City. We pay a
higher minimum and
higher wages than
anybody I know of." In
addition to hourly wages,
Auvil furnishes housing
and utilities to employees.
There are also profit
sharing, stock options, and
even a pond stocked with
about 4,000 trout for his
employees and their

Maintaining a Healthy
Another vital part of
Auvil's success is the
structure of his business.
Most of Washington apple
growers lose control of
their fruit when it leaves
the orchard, although they
retain ownership of it until
--year industry in it is paid for by whole-
salers or retailers. Thus,
they remain exposed to
risk. The Auvil Fruit Company began
packing its own fruit in 1946. Three
years later, it obtained a trademark for
its "Gee Whiz" label. But in 1978 Auvil
extended corporate integration to
marketing his own apples.
Auvil was familiar with fruit market-
ing because he had always marketed
the cherries, peaches, and nectarines
that he grew. He also knew that by
marketing his own fruit, he could
benefit more fully from his reputation
for quality.
Auvil fruit is sold all over the United
States and in many world markets

today. Auvil ships on a weekly basis to
London and frequently sells apples to
Auvil's business is in excellent shape,
but other apple growers are not doing so
well. The entire Washington State apple
industry has been reeling from the twin
punches of 1988: the Alar scare and the
State's largest crop in history. A
Washington State University economist
has estimated that the State's apple
growers lost $130 million in sales when
the 1988 crop's market was disrupted
by consumer fears triggered by a
television program on growers' use of
Alar. (Apple growers have since quit
using the chemical.) Still, Auvil tells
anyone who asks that making money in
the apple business is easy: "If you're
doing the right thing, the orchard
industry is a piece of cake." He said
1989 was one of the best years he had
ever had.

Still No Retirement Plans
"To me, this is the most fascinating
life in the world," says Auvil. "I'll be in
this business until I die, and if I die
under an apple tree, who cares? What's
the difference? I enjoy working with
people, I enjoy the fruit business, and I
have a wonderful group of people to
work with in this company. I still say
it's a piece of cake."

Golden Rule Produces Golden Profits

Carmen Jorgensen:

Goodwill Ambassador for U.S. Agriculture

She is not a hog farmer, but she is no
stranger to hogs. V'
She has farrowed sows alongside her
husband. She has paid her dues to r
farming with calluses and sleepless ,
nights worrying over finances.
Her contribution to agriculture today
is that of bookkeeper and market
forecaster, but promoting agriculture is
what puts a sparkle in her eye.
Carmen Jorgensen of Dover, AR, is
Attractive, articulate, and savvy,
Carmen knows the ropes. Her blue eyes
are direct and her voice is a well-
modulated marriage of Southern and
Midwestern dialects.
Carmen is as much at home in an
airplane going to Hong Kong as on the
farm. She has represented U.S. agri-
culture and women in agriculture in
both Europe and the Far East.
It does not seem likely that the
portals of world travel lie in a small p
Ozark foothills community, yet that is Carmen Jorgensen and her husband, Wayne, have established themselves in the swine industry through their efforts in farming
where Carmen started her career as a as well as related business enterprises.
professional woman of the land.

Establishing a Name
Reared on a farm in Iowa, Carmen
met Wayne Jorgensen just as she
started a teaching career. Seven months
later they married. The Jorgensens
have been perfecting a partnership of
complements for 33 years.
The foundation of their current
success was built 20 years ago when
Carmen, Wayne, and their two children,
Sonja and Wade, then 12 and 10,
respectively, moved to Dover. By then
Carmen had retired from teaching.

by Denice A. G. Gray, Communications
Specialist, University of Arkansas Cooperative
Extension Service, Little Rock, AR

And she had begun trading commod-
ities futures on the Chicago Mercantile
After establishing themselves on a
swine farm with related business
enterprises, the Jorgensens became
active in the Arkansas pork industry. A
former army cook, Wayne won the 1978
national pork cookoff contest in Seattle,
WA. (To this day, the Jorgensens serve
barbecued pork to attendees of Ozark
Memory Days, a local celebration.) For
a while Wayne was the Arkansas
director for the National Pork
Producers Council and Carmen was the
president of the National Pork Council
for Women.

The 1980's were a time of change,
and Carmen was in the forefront. The
name Porkettes was no longer
acceptable. Carmen was instrumental
in getting it changed to the National
Pork Council for Women.
If Carmen was heavily involved, so
was her family-because family unity is
important to her. Sonja was crowned
Pork Industry Queen in 1976. Both
Sonja and Wade were national 4-H
winners in the swine project area.
Active in 4-H activities, Carmen also
edited Arkansas Pork Producer
magazine, which included selling
advertisements as well as writing,
addressing, wrapping, sorting, and
mailing each issue.

Part II Farming

Throughout the family's involve-
ment, Carmen learned the art of
"I take advantage of the opportu-
nities given me," she says. "I get to
know people. At any meeting I don't just
say hello and goodbye; I want to know
who I'm sitting by. Acquaintances are

Acquaintances Pay Off
Carmen has served on the National
Advisory Committee on Meat and
Poultry Inspection. Her time spent on
State and other national boards has led
her into conversations with Members of
Congress, lobbyists, and USDA

She was one of the few ambassadors
of good will named by the Secretary of
Agriculture. As such she traveled to
Europe in 1984 and to Japan, Korea,
China, and Hong Kong the following
Carmen revealed some of her
philosophy in an address in Verona,
Italy, in 1986, when she represented the
farm women of North America at a
conference organized by the Inter-
national Federation of Business and
Professional Women. Carmen pointed
out the professionalism inherent in a
farm woman's work:
Farm women, she says, have
organized to draw greater attention to
their own roles, to educate consumers
about agriculture, and to lobby on
behalf of their
family farms. The
farm woman has a
$Nb career focus-the
farm and its
development. There
is an opportunity to
expand her role on
the farm to wha-
tever she wants it
to be. Professiona-
lism, then, is
inherent to the
position of farm
If "professional"
is a key word in
Carmen's life, then

her home office exemplifies it, fax
machine and all. She spends many
hours in that office. Her foreign travels
are over, at least for now. She will tell
you that one of her main regrets is that
there are not enough hours in the day to
accomplish all she wants to do.
Not only is there the swine operation
that encompasses some 400 acres and
sells 10,000 to 12,000 head a year.
There is also the gift shop the
Jorgensens purchased, appropriately
named the Copper Pig. Carmen and
daughter Sonja have parlayed their
flair for interior design-along with
Carmen's network of foreign and
domestic acquaintances-into a
successful operation. Recently they
opened another store.
Timing has been everything in
Carmen's life. She knows the ropes, and
she knows how to make the system
work for her.

The Jorgensens' swine operation
encompasses some 400 acres; they
Sell 10,000 to 12,000 head a year.

Goodwill Ambassador for U.S. Agriculture

Grantand JoAnne Hill:

A Part-Time Professional and a Full-Time Farm Manager

Checking the aroma of new hay helps Grant Hill, of Ellicott City, MD, to c
his crop is ready for bhling. Farming is a second life for Hill, who also mi
active dentistry practice.

The road slices through lush rolling
hills covered with a mixture of field
crops and residential housing develop-
ments. The landscape holds a smorgas-
bord of economic activity and is the
home of urban, suburban, and rural
residents. The scent of sun-dried hay is
in the air. Baltimore is just over the
next hill.
Howard County, MD, lies between
Baltimore, MD, and Washington, DC. It
is the location of Columbia, the county's

by Howard W. (Bud) Kerr, Jr., Director, Office
for Small-Scale Agriculture, Cooperative State
Research Service, USDA, Washington, DC

f; '"l"f

new hub of commerce with
a population of 72,000, and
Ellicott City, the historic
county seat. The land
surrounding these
communities is under
tremendous pressure for
County residents have
mixed opinions about the
future. Some people want
to keep farming, and
others want new
residential housing and
business centers. Farms, in
addition to providing food
and fiber, also provide
open space to people in
areas of high population
density, natural beauty
spots in altered
I pass a tractor that
determine if pulls a baler coughing up
nintains on bales of hay onto a trailing
wagon; then I turn off the
highway to TaHill Farm,
the home of Grant and Jo Anne Hill and
their three sons. Grant is a dentist and
farmer, and Jo Anne is the farm
manager. Everyone is busy when I
arrive, some loading bales of hay onto
the conveyer that takes them into the
barn, others loading hay onto a
customer's pickup truck.
The 133-acre TaHill Farm includes
65 acres in hay, 35 in small grain, and
the balance in pasture, woodlot, and
homesite. The farm crops for a typical
year amount to 7,500 bales of timothy,
2,000 of alfalfa, 2,000 of alfalfa-orchard
grass mix, and 2,000 of straw. The
farm's production is rounded out by 10
acres of corn, 25 to 40 acres of soybeans,
and 10 acres of pasture.

Port II Farming

I watch the pickup carry the load of
hay out the farm lane. The clatter of the
conveyor stops, and the dust settles.
Grant and I now have the quiet time to
talk about the dual roles of a part-time

The Part-Time Professional
Grant works 44 hours a week,
Monday through Thursday, as a dentist.
The rest of the time he spends farming.
"I need the heavy physical labor of
farming after the many hours of doing
the fine art of dentistry," he says.
"Practicing dentistry and farming
complement each other," says Grant.
"Every day brings something new." A
diverse clientele use the services of the
dentist, so he keeps in constant contact
with the local community.
Some problems can arise from
working two professions. "You must
learn how to respond to any crisis and
manage it well, in order to minimize the
damage and possibly come out ahead,"
says Grant. Not unlike dentistry,
equipment breaks or wears out and
repairs must be made. Sometimes
problems can be anticipated; however,
more often there is no warning, and
instant repairs are necessary if time is

The Farm Manager
Jo Anne joins us and reminds Grant
that he needs to get ready for a 4-H hay
club meeting that evening. While Grant
goes to prepare for the meeting, I ask Jo
Anne to describe her job as the farm
During the growing season, the main
job of farm manager is to market the
hay-to do whatever is necessary to sell

the crop, and to sell as much hay as
possible "on the ground."
"That is trickier than it sounds," says
Jo Anne. "It all begins with the
maturation of the crop and a favorable
weather forecast. We are currently
growing three types of hay: timothy,
alfalfa, and an alfalfa-orchard grass
mixture. The timothy hay is our best
seller; the alfalfa hay is the queen of the
hay crops; and the alfalfa-orchard grass
is very popular in a smaller market."
"We do not sell any hay that is not of
the highest quality," says Jo Anne.
Timothy hay is harvested twice per
season. The hay is cut and dried and
then baled. Alfalfa hay is cut or
harvested four to five times a season.
The current crop of alfalfa is 12 acres
and will produce anywhere from 450
bales on the first cutting to 300 bales
for subsequent cuttings. The alfalfa-
orchard grass mix is much the same as
the plain alfalfa.

The Next Generation
The two older Hill boys are in the
4-H Club and have had their own alfalfa
fields. The oldest has won a 4-H Club
trip to Chicago, IL, based on his record
book in plant and soil science. The next
oldest is following a similar path.
Jo Anne and her oldest son went to a
Pennsylvania State University alfalfa
seminar in Lancaster, PA, when they
were first establishing the farm's alfalfa
fields. Jo Anne recalls that they learned
"everything you always wanted to know
about alfalfa but were afraid to ask. We
were the only female and only young
man at the seminar, but we held our
own, and our stands of alfalfa today are
still being taken care of the way we
learned in Lancaster."

The part-time professional and the
farm manager both believe they should
never stop learning. Grant has contin-
ued his dental education and his farm
education. He has taken a course on
diesel mechanics and welding to help
him repair machinery on the farm.
Grant has used some of his spare
time to acquire and restore a collection
of John Deere tractors. The tractors
date from 1935 through 1960, and
Grant uses many of them on the farm.

What Makes It Worthwhile
Why do the Hills do this? "It's the
best possible way to raise children,"
says Grant. "They can stay beside their
parents and learn to be productive and

skilled individuals. They can observe
nature when it is kind and when it is
cruel. They get a picture of the great
circle of life-the beginning, the middle,
and the end. They witness birth and life
at early ages. They know what it means
to be responsible for another living
On weekend mornings in summer,
Grant and Jo Anne often get up very
early and have their coffee out on the
front porch, which has a wonderful view
of the farm and overlooks a 4-acre pond.
"We don't even talk sometimes, we
just sit and look," says Jo Anne. "It is
such a wonderful feeling to look out and
see the hay you have cut lying in
windows gleaming with the morning

" need the heavy physical labor of forming after the many hours of doing the fine art of dentistry," says Grant Hill. Balancing the demands
of two occupations is a challenge that Hill believes is worth the effort.

A Part-Time Professional and a Full-Time Farm Manager

Jose Reyes Reyes:

Winter Farmwork in Western New York

Jos6 Reyes Reyes is one of the
relatively few farmworkers who work in
western New York during the winter.
Most farm employment (other than
dairy work) in western New York is
seasonal-May through October-with
the majority of the demand for labor
attributed to the harvest of apples,
which takes place between late August
and early November.
Jos6's situation is also different
because historically most farmworkers
in western New York have been blacks
from the Southeastern United States,
Haitians, and Jamaicans. Only during
the 1989 apple harvest did workers
from Mexico and South Texas begin
coming to western New York in
substantial numbers. Hundreds of
thousands of workers from Mexico are
in the United States as Special
Agricultural Workers-legalized U.S.
residents under a provision of the
Immigration Reform and Control Act of
1986. Jos6 was a legalized resident
before the Act; his wife, Maria Oralia
Medina, obtained her legalized status
through the Special Agricultural
Worker program.

From Mexico to the United States
Jos6 was born in San Jos6 de
Bernalejo in the State of Zacatecas in
central Mexico in 1954. He has three
brothers and four sisters, and most of
his family still live in Mexico. He first
came to the United States in 1971 and
worked in Texas and New Mexico,
primarily as a day laborer in vegetable
and onion harvesting. For a number of
years he moved between the United

by Enrique E. Figueroa, Assistant Professor of
Agricultural Economics, Cornell University,
Ithaca, NY

States and Mexico and considered
himself a not-so-serious migratory
In 1975, Jos6 married a Mexican-
American woman from San Angelo, TX,
and eventually settled there, where
they had two children, a boy born in
1977, and a girl born in 1982. Unfortu-
nately, they were divorced after 10
years of marriage. Divorce is uncommon
and unacceptable in Mexican culture, so
it caused considerable anguish-not to
mention considerable economic loss.
Having lived in Texas for about 12
years, Jos6 returned to his hometown in
Mexico after his divorce. He spent 2
years there before entering the farm-

/ .r

worker migrant stream again. In 1984,
he went to Florida to work in the orange
harvest. Typically, the Florida orange
harvest season runs from October
through April and is the source of
employment for many migrants during
the winter. In Florida, Jos6 worked
primarily with other Mexicans, and he
made new friends, who had an estab-
lished migratory pattern. Like his
friends, he returned to his hometown in
Zacatecas at the end of each orange
harvest season.
During one of the returns, Jos6 met a
young woman, Maria Oralia, and after 2
years of courtship they entered the
migrant stream together. In 1989, they
, mPii k.,. .. 1a~ B

Working through a labor contractor, formworker Josa Reyes is able to find consistent employment throughout the year. His situation is
different from that of many other formworkers; for many areas of the United States, form labor is a seasonal occupation.

Part II Farming

were married. Unlike his migrant
friends from Florida, Jos6 and Maria
traveled to Tennessee rather than
California or the Midwest, and they
spent most of the summers there,
working in the nursery industry. Maria
particularly liked nursery work because
it was not as physically demanding as
other day-laborer work. Depending on
the weather, they would leave Ten-
nessee during August or September and
travel to Michigan for the apple harvest
season. The apple harvest season would
last into October, and thereafter they
would then go back to Florida and begin
the migrant cycle again.

Settling in Western New York
In 1989, the first year that western
New York employed substantial
numbers of farmworkers from Mexico
during the apple harvest, Jos6, Maria,
Jos6's cousin, and two friends went
there instead of to Michigan. They
worked in the apple harvest under
contract to a labor contractor.
One factor influencing the Reyes'
decision to live and work in western
New York was the housing arrange-
ment for the family. The labor con-
tractor recently had received a loan to
construct new housing for migrant
workers, and the Reyes family moved
into a brand new home. Jos6 made a
good impression on the farm labor
contractor, and at the end of the season
he offered Jos6, Maria, and their friend
Misa Mendoza work through the winter
-mostly pruning apple trees. Having a
baby-Jos6 Javier, born September
1989-may have influenced Jos6 and
Maria to stay in New York.

Mario Oralia Medina has done formwork in several States, including Florida, Tennessee, and Michigan. She settled in western New York in
1989 to prune apple trees.

Typical Winter Workday
Jos6's typical working day during the
winter begins at 6 a.m., with breakfast
and making the day's lunch. Jose and
Misa, who lives with the family, drive in
Jos6's pickup truck to the day's work
site. They are paid by the number and
sizes of the trees they prune.
The labor contractor selects the work
sites, but Jos6 works independently.
The labor contractor goes to the site the
first day and may visit the site again
when the work is done at that partic-
ular orchard. Mostly, though, the
contractor checks with the farm owner
by telephone to confirm that the work

has been done to the owner's satis-
faction. The contractor provides the
workers with the necessary tools,
equipment, and clothing to do the job.
Jos6 and the labor contractor say
that there is more work available than
there are people able and willing to do
the work. The workday is over by 6 p.m.
The Reyes usually spend their evenings
at home, watching television or listen-
ing to audiotape cassettes of Mexican

Winter Farmwork in Western New York

The labor camp in which they live is
deserted during the winter; they are the
only residents. Jos6 is a quiet person,
and it is clear that life in western New
York during the winter for the Reyes (or
any other people from Mexico) is
socially isolated-they have no other
friends. Even though Jos6's English is
good enough to communicate with
almost anyone, the same is not true for
his wife and his friend.
Jos6 likes what he does-especially
because he is basically his own boss
once he has been given a task to do. His
income varies through the year, but he
has aspirations similar to those of most
other Americans starting a family.
It is difficult to know whether Jos6
will settle in western New York. His
decision will depend on whether year-
round work is available and also on
whether more people from Mexico
choose to settle in the area. One
advantage of working for a labor
contractor is the network of potential
employers that the contractor can tap
into. This is particularly true of Jos6's
contractor, who has deep roots in the
Another important factor that will
influence the Reyes' decision to stay will
be the degree to which the community
accepts people from Mexico. Extension
agents who work with farmworkers in
western New York suggest that the
community has a growing interest in
accommodating farmworkers like Jos6
and his family. Only time will tell.

Jos6 is not very different from most
other farmworkers, but he is distin-
guished by three characteristics: He
does not drink or smoke, he chose to
settle in a socially and geographically
isolated area, and he lives in relatively
good housing. His situation is similar to
that of many farmworkers in that he
works for a labor contractor. Jos6
recognizes that the labor contractor
makes money from his work, and he
would prefer another arrangement. His

family's social acceptance by the
community during the winter is tenuous
at best, and he and his family yearn to
be among family and friends.
In many ways the Reyes family is
very similar to the other families in
western New York-hard-working,
family-oriented, serious, and mindful of
their responsibilities-but in the small
town where they live, they also feel
different from their neighbors.

rarmworKers Jose Keyes ano nis wire, maroa urai, snare a quier srroni mrougn an ornara in western new rorK Derore beginning
their day's task of trimming apple trees.

Part II Farming

Berta White:

A Lifelong Dedication to Agriculture

Not many individuals who leave
school and marry at age 14 have the
chance to lunch with presidents, serve
in a State legislature, or earn a college
degree when a grandmother. But Berta
Lee White, or "Bert" as she is best
known, of Bailey, MS, has done all
this-and more.
On State Highway 493 in Missis-
sippi, Bailey is little more than an
isolated post office serving a rural
community north of Meridian. Yet Bert,
who has traveled around the world
several times on behalf of agriculture,
calls it home.
Bert proudly proclaims she is a
farmer. She has been a farmer all her
life. She eloped when she was 14 to
marry her school sweetheart, the boy
next door, who was then 18. The
marriage joined two neighboring 100-
acre farms-parcels farmed by the
couple's parents and grandparents.
During their early married years,
Bert and her husband Gordon main-
tained the farm, but they worked off the
farm to supplement their income.
Gordon worked as an engineer. Bert
served as a "hello girl" and assistant
lineman for the telephone company
founded by her parents in 1911.
"In many ways, we actually grew up
and matured together," Bert recalls.
She drove a school bus for 7 years in
the 1930's. There were unscheduled
stops on Bert's bus routes during those
years-stops she made to help breast-
feed two children-one black, one
white-whose mothers were unable to
nourish them. The Whites had four
children of their own. While many
people look back on the Depression

by Jack King, Director of News Services,
American Form Bureau Federation,
Park Ridge, II

years as a difficult time, Bert says it
was a time of sharing and pulling
together for rural Mississippians.
"We shared what we had and made
the best of conditions," she recalls. "We
didn't really think of ourselves as doing
without. There was no electricity in
rural Mississippi, so we weren't forced
to do without conveniences.
"We had food from our gardens. We
had a milk cow and our own livestock
and chickens. No one in our area went
hungry. You knew what your neighbors
had and what they needed. There was
an understanding that your garden was
there to be shared."

Her Career as a Leader
Soon after the Depression years, Bert
became actively involved in community
activities. She joined the Lauderdale

Believing that agriculture's
future also depends on continued
technological advances, Bert helped
create the Farm Bureau's "adopt a
scientist" program. Now in its third
year, the program establishes
exchanges between scientists from
agribusiness companies and
individual farm families.
The scientist lives on the farm
for several days, exchanging
information over the breakfast
table, doing chores, and walking
the fields. While no technological
breakthroughs have been
discovered yet through the
program, Bert says the scientists
involved have almost unanimously
said they gained a far better
appreciation for the pursuit of
practical solutions and applications
in their research.

County Farm Bureau, where she
became a volunteer leader.
Bert's leadership abilities and
motivational strengths were soon
recognized. She was appointed
chairman of the county Farm Bureau
membership committee and built the
roster from 17 to 75 families during her
first year.
Many other volunteer activities
followed, including membership on
several local boards. Once she was
named the top 4-H leader in Missis-
sippi. In 1982, the State of Mississippi
officially recognized her for "outstand-
ing contributions to programs and
support for the aging."
Her neighbors voted her into Mis-
sissippi's House of Representatives in
1964. Four years later they elected her
to the State Senate, where she served
until 1975.
While serving as a State Senator, she
also enrolled at the University of
Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
Following the close of the day's legisla-
tive session, she would drive 100 miles
to attend classes; when the legislature
was in recess, she would enroll as a full-
time student. After 5 years of study,
Bert earned a bachelor of science and
arts degree in political science.
"College was one of the most
interesting periods of my life," she

Representing Farm Women
Bert used her political experience
and knowledge to get farm women's
input into the legislative debate over
the 1985 farm bill. As a result of her
prodding, State Farm Bureau women's
committees generated 45,000 letters to
elected officials in Washington, DC.

A Lifelong Dedication to Agriculture

She currently serves as chairman of
the Mississippi Farm Bureau women's
committee and as national chairman of
the American Farm Bureau Federa-
tion's women's committee, a position
she has held for 10 years.
In an effort to create better public
understanding of agriculture, the Farm
Bureau women, under Bert, meet with
the editors of the major consumer
magazines. At these luncheons in New
York City, farm women talk with
writers who help shape public opinion.

li p

Playing many roles is nothing new to Berta White. Although a wife,
mother, farmer, and chairman of the American Farm Bureau
Federation Women's Committee, White remains active as a lobbyist
on rural issues on local, State, and Federal levels.

"Farmers don't fully recognize the
importance of their communication role
with the public," Bert says. "They work
hard at what they do, but too often they
assume the public automatically
understands their role and why they
operate the way they do.
"Farmers don't recognize their need
to help the public develop a better
understanding of agriculture. We have
no choice. We have a responsibility to
get involved and to relate to the public
in terms they can understand."
Bert strongly emphasizes "Ag in the
Classroom" projects (see Chapter 46)
and is a tireless fundraiser for local
programs in Mississippi. One of her pet
projects now is promoting "The Choice
is Yours," a computer program devel-
oped through the Farm Bureau's
research foundation. Aimed at students
in seventh through ninth grades, the
software shows agricultural career
paths. In describing the program, Bert
says, "The future of agriculture depends
on attracting capable youth into the
It was through her work in the Farm
Bureau that she became involved in the
Country Women's Council and Asso-
ciated Country Women of the World.
She would eventually meet with
Presidents Reagan and Bush to present
the viewpoint of rural women on
various issues. She has frequently
testified before Congress, Federal
agencies, and her State legislature,
offering a statement for all of
She has visited each of the 50 States
and nearly 2 dozen foreign countries to
rally women as defenders of agriculture.
She wants to help farm women develop
leadership abilities.

The Whites were married 54
years before husband Gordon's
death in 1986; Bert has 10
grandchildren and 12 great-
grandchildren. Since Gordon's
death, Bert and their son Gordon
have jointly managed the farm
operation, raising crops and white-
faced herefords on 250 acres.
Despite her 60 years of
involvement as a wife and mother,
a legislator, and a community and
national leader, she still has a
mission and a sense of work
unfinished. She is driven by what
she describes as the need to
encourage farmers to become better
communicators, to create better
public understanding of farm

To do this, she stresses that action
must begin at home. Solutions to all
issues will originate first with the
people, she insists, not government.
Bert has participated in three trade
missions coordinated by USDA. On
these missions, she spoke to govern-
ment leaders and farmers in the
European Community, Asia, Hungary,
Yugoslavia, and Turkey. In addition,
she led a delegation of Farm Bureau
women to Sweden, Germany, and
Austria in 1988 to address foreign trade
"The goals and desires of farm
women are the same around the world,"
Bert says.

Part II Farming

The Carpenter Family:

Farming Vegetables and Fruit Keeps Their Dream Alive

Most people in Grady, a
small community in
southeastern Arkansas with
a population of about 400,
boast often about a unique
farm family in their midst.
This family has survived,
living on the farm and
growing vegetables and small
fruit, for the past 15 years,
while many others around
them have failed at farming.
What is it that makes this
family so special and so
successful? Why have they
succeeded at farming while
others have not?
Abraham Carpenter, Sr.,
his wife Katie, and members Abraham Carpi
of their family were close to From meager I
losing their farm during the technology an
early 1970's, attempting to
grow cotton and soybeans as
a means of survival. They managed to
secure a few dollars to keep their heads
above water by selling peas grown on a
quarter-acre plot adjacent to the family
home. Then the Carpenters bought a
small tractor and expanded the garden
plot to 3 acres.
"In 1973, we were selling our produce
out of our old car on a department store
parking lot in Pine Bluff," Katie recalls.
"We sold peas to roadside markets, but
at that time we could only get about
$1.75 per bushel." Today, peas bring
between $4 and $12 per bushel, depend-
ing on the variety and time of year.

by Arthur L. Allen, Associate Dean/Director,
Research and Extension, University of
Arkansas at Pine Bluff, AR

nter and his wife, Katie, are the nucleus of the family's expanding produce
eginnings, the Carpenters have built a successful family business through a
traditional family values.

Extension Lends a Helping Hand
Times would get better for the
Carpenters, as people at the Coop-
erative Extension Program at the
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
(UAPB) played a vital role in helping
them toward upward mobility. More
important, Extension helped them keep
alive their dream .. that of staying on
the family farm. "Everybody in the
family wants to stay on the farm," says
Katie. "The kids enjoy it and they make
a living."
Abraham, Sr., who started this
operation some 15 years ago, has turned
the day-to-day marketing and other
managerial aspects of the family
business over to Abraham, Jr., who
joined the business full time 8 years
ago. But in this family everybody knows
that Abraham, Sr., is still the boss. He
presides over operations on the farm. "I
decide who works in the fields and who
goes to market in Pine Bluff and Little

-"S' Rock," he says. "I usually
stay in the field and monitor
the irrigation of produce,
along with other duties."
Over the years, the
UAPB Extension program
has helped the Carpenters
stay on the farm by assist-
r ing them in expanding and
I diversifying their meager
S 3-acre farm into a thriving
S 450-acre operation. Exten-
sion specialists and agents
I advised them on which
A' vegetables to plant, when to
Plant, how to fertilize, and
Which pesticides to use for
I weed and insect control, as
operation. well as the latest irrigation
mixture of techniques, how to keep
records, and the importance
of soil testing. They also
helped the Carpenters select
the best kind of land to buy when the
family made the decision to expand the
The Carpenters now produce and
market an impressive array of high
quality vegetables and small fruit-
including turnip greens, peas, okra,
squash, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes,
blackberries, muscadines, spinach,
broccoli, carrots, peppers, cucumbers,
onions, peanuts, radishes, and mustard
-to various markets throughout the
"We secure most of our own markets,
which include the Pine Bluff and Little
Rock farmers' markets, supermarkets,
local restaurants, and some out-of-State
outlets," says Abraham, Jr. The super-
market connections provide the volume
and cash flow the Carpenters need to
support an operation of this magnitude.
Even though they have established
themselves with the larger buyers, they

Farming Vegetables and Fruit Keeps Their Dream Alive

Although their produce business has expanded greatly since its origin, the Carpenters remain active in farm markets throughout Arkansas.
The family's togetherness and strong work ethic, combined with o willingness to update their operation as new technology becomes available,
help keep their form a success.

still remain loyal to the farmers'
markets, which account for about 55
percent of their income.

A Hard Act To Follow
The Carpenters are an exception
rather than the rule among vegetable
farmers. Although many vegetable
operations are family oriented, the
Carpenters are probably in a class by
themselves, as they involve all family
members in cultivating, harvesting, and
marketing vegetables and small fruit
from their 450 acres. About 5 years ago,
the Carpenters farmed 50 to 60 acres,
all in vegetables.
"The decision was made to expand
substantially when my younger
brothers finished high school and
decided to join the family business,"
recalls Abraham, Jr. "Our total family
income is generated from our vegetable
and small fruit operation."

family members to keep their large
operation going. Most work days begin
at 2:00 a.m. for the working crew, which
numbers about 25. Abraham, Jr., his
seven brothers and sisters, and other
relatives by marriage make up this
unique group. Katie prepares the meals
while one or two of the younger
daughters babysit the young.
The Carpenters' success can be
traced to the family's work ethic,
togetherness, a willingness to listen to
recommendations from the Extension
Service, and the insight to update their
production and marketing techniques as
new technology becomes available.
However, it is their unique family
structure that contributes most to the
success of the Carpenters. It is
something special that is rarely found
among American families today.

With the help of UAPB Extension,
the Carpenters have been able to grow
in an organized manner. They have
purchased a state-of-the-art vegetable
washing and cleaning machine and four
late-model refrigerated vans to carry
their produce to market. They have
devised an innovative method of cooling
their vegetables, using an ice machine
prior to going to market, and have had
their land leveled using a precision
laser technique that has reduced runoff
and thus improved their irrigation
system. Their watering system-a 160-
foot well and tractor-powered pump,
pipe for furrow irrigation, and a
sprinkler system for spot irrigation-
paid for itself in 7 years.
The Carpenters are a close-knit
family and dedicated to their family
business. The dedication is evident as it
takes 16-hour days on the part of most

Port II Farming


Putting His Shadow on His Land

Positive about the present, enthu-
siastic about the future, Edward I.
McGrew personifies what it takes today
to successfully farm the irrigated desert
lands that provide this Nation with
most of its fresh, cool-season vegetables
each winter.
He is a man of the times. Skilled in
farm management and active in
community affairs, Ed is sensitive to his -.-
area's economic pulse. His personal
involvement and investment are
helping his community prepare for a
decade of change.
Ed, 52, is the sole owner of MAGCO
AG, a diversified farming operation i
headquartered in the Meloland area of
Imperial County-nestled in the
southeast corner of California. Meloland
lies between El Centro, the county seat,
and Holtville, MAGCO's mailing
address. It was Meloland when Ed, a
native of the area, started MAGCO and
still is Meloland to him today despite
the postal designation.

Desert Oasis
The county's Imperial Valley, a
Sonoran Desert oasis, accounts for
about $1 billion yearly in gross income
to agricultural producers. The odds are
that the lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli,
carrots, and asparagus you see dis-
played in your supermarket from
January through March were grown in
the Imperial Valley. El Centro's
chamber of commerce boasts that, acre
for acre, the valley is the most agricul-
turally productive area in the Nation.

Ed McGrew, owner of MAGCO AG, a vegetable forming operation in the Imperial Valley area of California, is a regular fixture in his
company's fields. Speaking of the importance of remaining active in his business, McGrew says, "My father told me the best thing you can put
on your land is your shadow."

Putting His Shadow on His Land

by Forrest D. Cress, Communications Specialist,
Cooperative Extension, University of
California, Riverside, CA

People in the valley, though, are
looking to the 1990's as a decade of
change. They see diversification of
business activity, spurred by invest-
ments from urbanized, coastal southern
MAGCO farms about 4,000 acres in
the Imperial Valley and another 4,000
acres around nearby Yuma, Arizona. Ed
also is the developer, builder, and co-
owner of the new, $1.6-million Rio Bend
RV Resort Ranch, a 270-space, full-
service RV park west of El Centro.

Reinvestment, Not Flash
As one of his business associates
puts it, "McGrew doesn't show a lot of
flash. He reinvests in his enterprises, to
the benefit of our valley and county."
Although Ed has been directly
involved in farming his whole life, he is
amenable to change, to diversification.
His resort RV ranch venture attests to
that. When life gives you lemons, make
lemonade. That is what he says. "You
must learn to make adversity work for
your benefit," he notes. It's worked for
When Ed graduated from college
there was no opportunity for him to go
into business with his father, who had a
small farming operation, so he went to
work for a grower who farmed more
acreage and made him a partner. They
sold out to Purex in the late 1960's, and
Ed served for 3 years as a regional
manager for Freshpict Foods, a Purex
subsidiary. When Purex pulled out of its
farming enterprises, he bought back in
and formed MAGCO.

Hands-On Boss
Here is another old saying that Ed
follows: "The best thing a farmer can
put on his land is his shadow."
Ed sees himself as a day-to-day,
hands-on owner/operator. His home is
but a quarter mile from MAGCO's office
and headquarters. He is up at 4:30 a.m.
and in his office by 5:30 a.m. each
workday. His off time begins when
MAGCO operations shut down for the
Each day by 10 a.m., his secretary
reports what is going on in each
MAGCO field, how many employees are
involved, and how many people are
staying at his RV park. A two-way radio
keeps him in contact with his Yuma
operations, and he makes much use of
the mobile phone in his pickup. He
believes that his presence and daily
communications with key personnel are
essential to his company's operations. "I
want them to be self-motivated," he
says, "and I value their input as to how
we might improve what we're doing."

Management Team
His key personnel include a con-
troller, a personnel manager, two area
growers, three tractor foremen, three
irrigation foremen, and two shop
foremen. He also keeps a California
certified pest control adviser on retainer
to protect his crops from diseases,
weeds, and insect pests. (He is setting a
tentative goal of reducing agricultural
chemical costs on MAGCO cropland by
$50 per acre this year.)
Almost all of the land farmed by
MAGCO is leased and always has been.
"About 65 percent of the acreage I lease
in the Imperial Valley belongs to
absentee owners, which is fairly typical

of land being farmed here," says Ed,
"and the same more or less holds true
for the Yuma area acreage we have
under cultivation."
About 75 percent of the MAGCO
acreage is planted to vegetables, such as
lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots,
asparagus, and onions, and 25 percent
to field crops such as alfalfa, wheat,
Sudan grass, and sugar beets.
"We double crop," he says, "and
follow our winter vegetables with cereal
grains or a field crop. We're working
year-round. We have no slack time."

Coordination Critical
Coordination of cultural practices is
critical to MAGCO's vegetable crop
operations. "Shippers have to be
guaranteed a steady supply for 100 to
120 days," Ed notes. "Production is very
intense. For example, our asparagus
harvest entails picking each acre every
single day for 100 days or more. Winter
vegetables are planted in late summer,
and there's a very stringent schedule for
planting. We also have fairly sophisti-
cated field crop scheduling."
From his second-floor MAGCO office
window, Ed sees hundreds of recrea-
tional vehicles, many pulling boats,
streaming eastward each weekend on
Interstate 8, bound for the Colorado
River and its environs. "The low cost of
food," he notes, "makes it possible for
adults to have so many expensive toys."
The RV presence in his life, so visible
from his office, so visible in Yuma each
winter when thousands of "snowbirds"

Part II Farming

from colder climes flock there, led him
to start making lemonade from life's
lemons back in 1983. That's when he
took his first steps toward developing
an RV park on land he owned just south
of Interstate 8 west of El Centro. At
that time, agriculture generally was not
doing well, Ed recognized the growing
demand for high-quality RV facilities in
the Imperial Valley, and he wanted to
diversify anyway.
His Rio Bend RV Resort Ranch had
its grand opening in March 1986. His
wife Patty designed it and planned for
it. Their daughter, Margo McGrew-
Dubois, is general manager of the

Valley's Needs
More general business during the
summer months is a major need of the
valley. Cotton once was a major crop
there and an important one because it
provided a cash flow in the valley
during its slow months, summer and
"We need to get cotton growing
again," says Ed. "We also need a meat
packinghouse somewhere in our area. It
would be a significant economic shot in
the arm."
Optimistic about the future, he sees
great opportunities for the Southwest
States to sell their produce and goods to
Pacific Rim nations.
"A large percentage of our asparagus
is already going to Japan," he notes.
"All of our Sudan grass is begin shipped
to Japan as dairy cattle roughage feed.
It's being shipped in the same con-

tainers Japan uses to deliver new cars
to Long Beach harbor. In 1991, we'll be
exporting beef to Japan."

"Golden Triangle"
He sees the Imperial Valley as being
in a "Golden Triangle" between San
Diego and Palm Springs, CA, and
Phoenix, AZ. "They're all rapidly
developing into great metropolitan
areas," he notes, "and we're seeing
significant increases in housing
construction, sales tax revenue, and
more goods and service provided to El
Centro residents and guests. El Centro
is in the center of the center."

Leaders in many areas of community
life, Ed and Patty are alumni of Cali-
fornia Polytechnic State University, San
Luis Obispo. Ed majored in farm
management and Patty in home
economics. Their daughter Margo is a
Cal Poly graduate. Another daughter,
Cindy, is a graduate of Scripps College,
Claremont, CA. The baby of the family,
Jennifer, is now attending Hope College
in Holland, MI.
Ed takes pride in his family, his
business enterprises, and his home-
the Imperial Valley, where his presence
is a low-key but constant, positive force
for the valley's future.


Ed McGrew (left) and USDA onion inspector Chuck Bombarger (right) examine a random sample of onions harvested that day.
The inspector checks the onions for size, weight, bruises, and dirt.

Putting His Shadow on His Land

George Houk:

The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

It is not easy to get in touch with Ohio
farmer George Houk. Depending on the
time of year, or time of day (or night),
George is likely to be planting a grain or
soybean crop, tending his Christmas tree
operation, tapping maple trees for sap,
working for the Agricultural
Stabilization and Conservation Service
(ASCS), coaching his daughters' soccer
or softball teams, shooting photos for a
magazine or a multimedia slide show,
organizing a community activity-the
list goes on. Phone messages are best
left at the office where his wife Kathy
and mother Irene share a dentistry
practice. If anyone ever needed a beeper,
it is George Houk. Here is how George
describes himself as a part-time farmer
-which is something of a misnomer:
"At 37 years old," he says, "I feel I
have experienced about as much in life
as anyone my age could ask for. This
hasn't happened by accident, because I'm
always seeking new experiences and the
opportunity to be part of every aspect of
life. I believe that while you only live
once, if you do it right, once is enough."

Family Life Important
For George, life revolves around his
family. George's wife and mother are
both dentists-"they're the only
daughter-in-law-mother-in-law dentist
team I know of," he says. Daughters
Annie, 7, and Katie, 4, are already
entrepreneurs with their own business,
"Kids Krops," specializing in pumpkins,
gourds, and decorative corn.
Houk was born and raised in
Mahoning County, Ohio, on the family

by George Houk, Part-Time Farmer, ASCS
Field Reporter, and Photographer, Poland, OH
with Virginia Broadbeck, Public Information
Specialist, ASCS, USDA, Washington, DC

farm, which he and his wife Kathy now
own and operate. George says he could
never picture himself as anything other
than a full-time farmer. Houk earned
his bachelor's and master's degrees in
agricultural education and agricultural
economics at Ohio State University. He
says that during his 4 years there, his
only dream was to return to his north-
east Ohio home to take over the family

Fulfilling a Dream
In June 1977, George and Kathy
Houk fulfilled their ambitions and went
into farming and dentistry, respectively,
in partnership with George's parents.
In the agricultural boom years of the
1970's, farmers expanded their opera-

tions with relative ease and confidence.
"I was able to get in on a part of this in
the late 1970's," George says, "and with
the help and support of my father,
Albertus, we were soon farming nearly
500 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, and
oats. We fed out beef and hogs and sold
them as freezer meats by the half or
whole." George took over his father's
1,200-bucket maple sugar operation and
later added a wholesale Christmas tree
business, growing 5,000 trees on 4.5
To George, maple sugaring is an art,
not just a process. In the last 50 years
or so, maple syrup production has been
associated mostly with the New Eng-
land States (see Chapter 29). However,
in parts of northern Ohio where Great
Lakes weather patterns prevail,

"We must realize we haven't inherited this good earth from our parents," says George Houk, "we're borrowing it from our children." Houk is
bringing his daughters, Annie, 7, and Katie, 4, along in the family tradition of farming by assisting them with their own business, "Kids
Krops," which specializes in pumpkins, gourds, and decorative corn.

Port II Farming

sugaring is still carried on. "My father
often reminisced about sugaring in his
youth," he says, "when they tapped
trees with wooden spiles [spigots used
in taking sap from a tree], caught the
sap in crocks, and then boiled the sap in
kettles to make syrup that sold for
$1.25 a gallon."
The Art of Sugaring. "For me,
making maple syrup hasn't changed too
much, but the tools we use have been
updated to metal spiles and buckets.
More recently plastic tubing has gained
popularity as a means of gathering sap
and carrying it to a central collection
point. Boiling the 40 to 50 gallons of sap
required to make 1 gallon of pure Ohio
maple syrup is now done with an
automatic continuous flow evaporator."
The flow of maple sap up and down
the trees is the result of an equal blend
of cold, frosty nights and warm, sunny
days. Typically, this season comes to
Ohio from late January through mid-
March. A day's run of sap can range
anywhere from 1 pint to over 4 gallons
per tap. Sap from even a small run
must be collected quickly and processed,
as raw sap will tend to sour about as
quickly as raw milk.
Nothing Added. Nothing is added
to sap to produce pure maple syrup.
Only water, in the form of steam, is
removed until the sap reaches the
proper density. A gallon of syrup weighs
11 pounds and recently has been selling
for $20 to $23 per gallon, George says.
"That's a nice increase from the
$1.25 per gallon my dad got years ago,
but sometimes, when you consider
slopping through the mud, and the
hours spent gathering and boiling the
sap, it seems that this is an art carried
on for the sake of nostalgia, not profit."
After hearing all the stories shared
in the sugar house by oldtimers, "You

find the real art of sugaring hasn't
changed-there's been no need for
change," he says. "I can't help but feel a
thrill as I head to the woods to gather
sap, sap from the same trees that were
tapped by pioneers, and just possibly by
early Indians." As he goes about his
sap-gathering chores, "I'm interrupted
only by the honking of geese, as a giant
V-shaped formation of Canadian geese
heads north-another sure sign that
spring is just around the corner."

Off-Farm Work
Since the late 1970's, George has
worked part time for the Mahoning
County ASCS office as a field reporter.
This job involves measuring grain bins
and fields for farmers participating in
USDA feedgrain programs. "When I
first started, this day or two every
couple of weeks served as a nice bit of
extra income," George says, "as well as
an opportunity for me to get around the
community and meet and serve other
farmers." George has also served as an
ASCS community committeeman in
Mahoning County.
"But as times have changed," he
continues, "Government programs have
become both more complex and more
financially attractive to farmers. This
means the ASCS office has needed more
field work in the past several years." At
the same time, financial pressures have
affected many farmers' cash flow. The
combination of more ASCS work time
available along with the need for more
supplemental income led George to
become a part-time farmer.
Houk still farms 400 acres, but the
livestock operation is gone, and since
his father's death in 1986, he farms
While George now spends nearly 175
days off the farm as an ASCS field

reporter, he says his duties enable him
to be a "full-time" employee on the days
he works for the agency, and a "full-
time" farmer when weather and field
conditions permit equipment to run in
the fields.
"I don't really think of myself as a
part-time farmer," he says. "When I do
anything, I do it full time that day."

A Flexible Schedule
"I really enjoy the flexibility of my
work and my life. There's no set
schedule. If, for instance, I were driving
a school bus like some farmers do for
extra income, that's an everyday
commitment during the school year. If
you're working in the fields, you have to
drop what you're doing to meet your
schedule. I'm very fortunate in that I
can organize my work pretty much as
Most people would have their days
filled with that much activity, but
George Houk has two more jobs that he

From Avocation to Vocation
Photography has been his major
hobby since he was 8 years old, and, he
says, "I photographed every bear seen
on a family vacation to Yellowstone
Park at least twice." Over the years,
this hobby has evolved into another line
of work. In his part-time photography
business, George now takes several
thousand photos every year for calen-
dars, brochures, and magazine covers.
He also specializes in putting together
multimedia slide shows promoting
American agriculture and patriotic
themes for audiences throughout Ohio
and neighboring States.

The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

"A camera now seems to be a fixture
of my wardrobe," he says, "and I'm
seldom without one whether I'm in my
car, truck, or tractor cab. I have a
unique opportunity to capture rural life
on film and then share the results and
help tell the story of American agri-
culture to others."

Lights on Tractors
But by far his biggest job, and the
one he values most, is being a parent.
He arranges his work schedule around
his family life as much as possible.
"I thought that's why they put lights
on tractors," he chuckles. "If you're
willing to be flexible, you can coach your
child's soccer team, manage the base-
ball team, or attend a school or church
function to see your children in their
moment of glory, and still get your
farmwork done. I've never seen a corn
stalk grow upside down just because it
was planted in the dark of night."
He admits, however, that reasonable
precautions must be taken to avoid
shaking up the neighbors if the tractor
is still running in the wee hours. Even
so, it is not unusual for George to be out
until 2 a.m. or later during planting
"There is no place like a farm to raise
a family," he says. "Country life affords
lessons of birth, growth, and maturity;
teaches the value of hard work; and,
with the exception of weather-related
interruptions, allows people to have a
direct influence on their returns. When
enthusiasm meets with opportunity,
good things can happen."

mIIV m n)o IpruwId IKI U lUII Ilu !Ul, lU iullly, ,3Uy UeoUly noun, witu irfrm
maples in Mahoning County, OH.

Into the Next Generation
Farming may well continue into the
next generation in the Houk family.
Katie and Annie Houk's "Kids Krops" is
already a thriving venture, complete
with business cards George had printed
for the girls. "They're busy raising
money to help defray college expenses
when the time comes," he says.
But life is not all work for the Houks.
"We love to play hard, too." During the
winter, the Houks enjoy downhill skiing
at resorts throughout Ohio, Pennsyl-
vania, New York, and New England.
With his daughters by his side, "or
usually out ahead of me," George says
skiing is not only great exercise, it also
offers opportunities to be one with
nature and see sights shared by a
fortunate few. The summer months find
the Houks swimming or playing
softball, and George coaching his
daughters' sport teams.
George also finds time to be active in
business and professional organiza-
tions, including the Mahoning County

and Ohio Young Farmers' Associations,
the Farm Bureau, the Northeast Ohio
Forestry Association, the Youngstown
Photographic Society, the Photographic
Society of America, the Ohio State
University Alumni Association, and the
National Association of State and
County Employees of ASCS. He is also
active in community and church

A Good Life
Pausing to reflect on his life and his
work, George says, "We must realize we
haven't inherited this good earth from
our parents, we're borrowing it from our
"We pass through life so quickly
when we enjoy what we do. I never get
bored by doing one job all the time-I
have so many. I love people, I love the
great outdoors, and I love my family.
I'm a lucky person. I feel I'm expe-
riencing life to its fullest, and life is
good to me."

Port II Farming


Volunteer Helps Manage Maine Woodlands

Ever since she was a child roaming
the forested paths of Manhattan's
Inwood Hill Park, Judy Berg has liked
"I grew up a city person, but that
didn't keep me from being in the woods.
Inwood was unspoiled in those days."
she recalls, describing the urban forest
at the northern tip of Manhattan, near
the Hudson Bridge. "In fact, I remember
going to Native American powwows
there every year. They commemorated
the smoking of the peace pipe with
Henry Hudson."
Judy's love affair with the woods is
now practically a full-time occupation.
In addition to managing her family's
200-acre woodlot, the Buckfield, ME,
resident is a woodland volunteer for the
University of Maine Cooperative
Extension's woodland volunteer
This program is a joint venture of the
University of Maine Cooperative
Extension, the Maine Forest Service,
and the Small Woodland Owners
Association of Maine. It provides
information, resources, referrals, and
motivation to Maine's 80,000 people
who privately own woodland of 10 acres
or more. In the tricounty (Oxford,
Androscoggin, and Sagadahoc) area
where Judy lives, more than 1.5 million
acres of woodland are privately owned.
"Forest management" means
different things to different woodland
owners, depending on the types of
woodlands that they own and the uses
that they want to make of them. For
some owners, it may mean thinning-

by Melanie Spencer, Publications Editor, and
Frank Wertheim, Oxford County Extension
Educator, University of Maine Cooperative
Extension, Orono, ME

Judy Berg's love for the woodlands is on asset in managing her family's 200-acre woodlot in Buckfield, ME. Woodland volunteers, like Judy,
ore trained to help small-scale woodland owners assess possible uses for their land and plan management practices for the future.

clearing out some trees so that other
trees can have more sunlight and grow
to full maturity. For other owners, it
may mean a "selective cut," in which
misshaped, unmarketable, or unhealthy
trees are harvested so that more
valuable trees have adequate nutrients
and light to grow. Whether it is part of
a management plan or not, many small
woodland owners rely on their "back-
yard" woodlands for firewood to heat
their homes throughout the long

One-to-One Help
Maine's woodland volunteers are
trained to help small-scale woodland
owners assess possible uses of their
land and plan for the future. A volun-
teer will walk the land with a client,
helping to define what he or she wants

to do with it and providing information
on programs, such as the tree growth
tax law. Judy and the other volunteers
can also connect the client with
professionals for more information on
forestry, soils, wildlife, recreation,
environmental protection, or other
"It's very rewarding for me to walk
through a woodland with a small
woodland owner and help him or her
understand what were formerly
mysteries of the forest," says Judy. "On
a one-on-one basis, I help landowners
identify tree species, calculate a tree's
age and size, and point out signs of
wildlife. I also like to explain how good
management not only improves the
quality of timber growth but also
attracts wildlife, protects watersheds,
and provides for hiking and cross-
country ski trails."

Volunteer Helps Manage Maine Woodlands

Judy is one of 18 woodland volun-
teers in the tricounty area. All of
Maine's woodland volunteers are local
people who believe in multiple-use
management and are willing to share
their knowledge and enthusiasm with
As a busy wife, mother of three
grown children, free-lance editor, and
member of the Buckfield planning
board, Judy is well aware of how hard it
can be for a private woodland owner to
juggle priorities and make time to care
for what could be viewed as a very large
"I understand how some people feel
they don't have the time for forestry
management," she says. "But making
contact with a woodland volunteer is
well worth the time, for it helps people
realize they don't have to do it all
Judy's foray into forestry began in
1985, when she attended Yankee
Woodlot Forestry Camp, a weeklong
forestry management program spon-
sored by the University of Maine
Cooperative Extension. The annual
event, held at Tanglewood 4-H Camp on
the Maine coast, draws participants
from all over New England.
"I came back from camp euphoric,"
she says. "The camp was like a college
silviculture course all in 1 week. We
focused on trees from 7:30 a.m. till 10
p.m. When I got home, I immediately
had my whole family running around in
the woods measuring trees, pacing off
distances for a management plan, and
looking for signs of wildlife."
Judy's camp experience led to her
involvement with the woodland volun-
teer program and to her participation in

the Small Woodland Owners Associa-
tion of Maine, which she now leads as
president. Judy hopes to inspire other
landowners to manage their woodlands.

Benefits of Management
"One of the worst things one can do
with land is to neglect it," she says. "A
dense, poorly growing forest doesn't
benefit anyone, even most wildlife. But
simple management techniques can
improve the health and vitality of the
forest, increase wildlife habitats and
food, and improve the esthetic value of
the land simultaneously."
Judy cites a Hebron, ME, couple who
are recent converts to private forest
management. The couple had owned
150 acres of woodland since the early
1960's, yet they had never managed it
and did not know where to start. They
saw a sign for the woodland volunteer
program, and one call brought Judy to
their home.
"I sat down with them at their
kitchen table and explained the variety
of programs and opportunities. This
came at a critical time, because
development was taking place all
around them and they didn't wish to
develop their property," says Judy.
"Since then, they've had their property
surveyed and they developed a manage-
ment plan for timber stand improve-
ment and trails. They were aware that
programs existed, but weren't sure how
to find out about them."
A management plan is a statement of
the owner's goals and objectives, an
inventory of the land, and a schedule of
activities, according to Extension
educator Les Hyde, who helps coordi-
nate the annual Yankee Woodlot
Forestry Camp. For example, a small-
scale woodland owner notes that her

objectives are "to encourage wildlife
habitats and support a harvest of 15
cords of firewood each year."

In Their Own Woods
Judy and her husband, Charles, an
engineering professor, own a 200-acre
tract of land, and much of her expertise
evolved from managing it. Their land
had been cleared for farmland in the
1800's, but gradually it had reverted to
Under a Federal cost-sharing
program of USDA's Agricultural
Stabilization and Conservation Service
and with the help of a Maine Forest
Service forester, Judy and Charles
planted 8,000 white pines and improved
5 acres of hardwoods. Working with a
forester and a logger, the couple
recently thinned an oak stand and sold
the harvest to a lobster trap manu-
facturer. They selectively cut two tracts
that were overstocked to allow
remaining crop trees greater access to
sunlight, soil, and nutrients.
Sometimes Judy and Charles do the
work themselves, taking to the woods
with hard hats, heavy boots, safety
goggles, and chain saws. At other times
they work with a crew of loggers,
particularly on large-scale or dangerous
projects. Judy notes that in either case,
woodland projects are like gardening,
but on a much larger scale.
"Selective cutting is like thinning
carrots and radishes in your vegetable
garden," she explains. "It just takes
longer and requires heavier equipment,
and you don't enjoy the results the same
season. What I do enjoy right away are
the trails for hiking and cross-country
skiing, and so do my neighbors and local

Part II Farming

Ole Nissen:

Adaptability Is the Key

By adapting to market pressures, Ole Nissen has been able to plant his company in a profitable niche. The success of Nissen's Sun State
Carnations, Inc., stems from production of uncommon flowers that are difficult for his competitors to ship long distances.

Born and reared in Denmark, Ole
Nissen now works among 90 acres of
flowers in southeastern Florida.
It is pleasant and rewarding work-
Nissen and his three sons gross $2.5
million a year-growing, packaging,
and selling such familiars as snap-
dragons, iris, and phlox along with such
less common varieties as liatris, white
dill, didiscus, allium, and scabiosa.
If there's one word that describes
Nissen it's "adaptability."
Shortly after he opened his first 40
acres of flower production at Hobe
Sound, FL, to produce cuttings for

by Pete Packett, Information Specialist, Florida
Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services, Tallahassee, FL

LZ -- -- 11

Shipping flowers to 300 wholesale accounts throughout the Eastern
United States makes up the majority of the Nissen's business. The
family also maintains a successful retail outlet to service the needs
of individual flower seekers.

Adaptability Is the Key

carnation growers, Kenya leaped to
international leadership in the cuttings
Nissen switched to the cut-flower
market. Then Colombia shouldered its
way into the lion's share of the U.S. cut-
flower market and Nissen adapted
Now he grows uncommon flowers
that are hard for the Colombians to ship
long distances, even by air.
Nissen is adaptable. But nature does
impose limits. Ten acres of the Nissen
farm is under plastic cover, and another
10 acres are shrouded in plastic film.
Still, in the freeze of December 1989,
Nissen's son Eric estimates the firm lost
$500,000, mostly in snapdragons grown
in the open air.
At Nissen's packinghouse, millions of
colorful cut flowers are bunched into
plastic buckets bound for welcoming
tables throughout the Eastern United
States. But Nissens' Sunshine States
Carnations pauses to serve its upscale
residential neighbors, too. The firm's
retail outlet just north of West Palm
Beach does a brisk and profitable
business 7 days a week. Hobe Sound
homeowners think nothing of spending
$150 a week sprucing up their homes
with Ole Nissen's flowers.
Many of Nissen's competitors in
southern Florida have given in to the
pressure of urbanization, sold their
farms, and gone out of business.
Instead, Nissen adapted.



L..~ : .. -0



r ':r c
; ,.,



Carlo Jo Payne:


Carla Jo Payne has a
significant and unusual role in
agribusiness. She is not only a
pilot, she is a pilot in the
agricultural aviation industry.
Only 25 years old, she has
been flying since she was 16. At
17, she got her private pilot's
license and her license to fly
with instruments; at 18, she got
her commercial license and
multi-engine rating, as well as
her instructor's certificate. For
the past 3 years, she has worked
as an agricultural pilot, flying a
highly sophisticated airplane
specifically designed for
agricultural work.
Payne Flying Service owns
two planes. Carla and her
husband, Carl, share the pilot
duties of one aircraft, and they
hire a pilot for the other one.
Both airplanes are Air Tractor
A400's, powered by Pratt & One of the
Whitney PT-34 turbine engines, business c
These planes are state-of-the- in the he
art equipment in the agriculture
industry, costing more than $300,000
each. Many pilots with several years of
experience do not have the expertise, or
opportunity, to fly this type of aircraft,
but Carla has the ability to fly them
and to do aerial application work.
The Paynes own and operate their
agricultural aviation business in Katy,
TX, just west of Houston on 1-10. This is
in the heart of rice country, and the
bulk of their work is seeding, fertilizing,
and applying crop protection chemicals
to rice. This is where Carla started
learning agricultural flying from her

by Phyllis J. Jones, Past President, Women of
National Agricultural Aviation Association,
Benkelman, NE

and answering telephones. Carla is
usually busy even when she is not
piloting an airplane.
The Paynes are involved in several
agricultural and aviation organizations,
including the Texas and Southwestern
Cattle Raisers Association, Texas
Agricultural Aviation Association,
California Agricultural Aviation Asso-
ciation, and the National Agricultural
Aviation Association.
The Paynes are dedicated to the
professional agricultural aviation in-
dustry. Carla believes that agricultural
aviation plays a role in providing food
and fiber for the world.

two Air Tractor A400 turbine-powered airplanes the Paynes use in their
nmes close to a rice field. Payne Flying Service operates out of Katy, TX,
t of rice country.

husband and where she does most of
her agricultural flying today.
They also do contract work that
takes them.throughout the United
States. These contracts are for another
type of agriculture flying-forestry
work. Carla's duties on these trips are
to help keep things organized on the
ground for her husband and the other
There are several tasks involved in
running a successful agricultural
aviation business-including flagging
where the airplane has been, loading,

Port III The Business of Agriculture

Cropduster Carlo Jo Payne is a busy person, but she still finds time
to raise Texas Longhorn cattle and to train horses.

Genita Cockrell and Lawrence Johnson:

Savoring Success in the Food Processing Industry

Genita Cockrell was only 23 years
old when she landed her dream job. She
figured she'd have to wait another 10
years before she was named director of
research and development at Bee Gee
Shrimp, a seafood processing firm in
Lakeland, FL.
After just 6 months at Bee Gee, she
won a promotion that placed her in
charge of dreaming up new products
and improving the quality of current
favorites. She develops and tests new
products for shrimp glazes, coatings,
stuffings, sauces, and other seafood
"When people who have talked to me
on the telephone meet me, they're sur-
prised that I'm so young," says Genita.
"They can't believe I have this job."
She says the food science program at
the University of Florida's Institute of
Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS)
in Gainesville helped her advance in
her field.
"The classes I took relate directly to
the work I'm doing," says Genita. "And
the rapport I had with professors en-
ables me to call on them if I need help."
Genita received her food science
degree in 1987 and is one of a number of
IFAS graduates getting good jobs in all
phases of the food processing industry,
from quality control to research and
development. The citrus and seafood
processing industries, in particular,
offer many job openings for new

The Right Training
To meet the challenges of the food
industry, students are prepared by a
rigorous course load that includes one

by Susan O'Reilly, Managing Editor, Impact
Magazine, Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences, Gainesville, FL

Savoring Success in the Food Processing Industry

semester of calculus, two
years of chemistry, one
semester of physics, and
one semester of statistics.
Courses in engineering
and food analysis, proc-
essing, and chemistry are
also part of the food
science curriculum.
"IFAS gives students a
strong foundation in the
principles of food science
and technology to fulfill
requirements set by the
National Institute of Food
Technologists," says Marty
Marshall, IFAS associate
professor in the Depart-
ment of Food Science and
Human Nutrition.
"Through work exper-
iences, such as internships
offered by food companies,
students are better pre-
pared to go out directly
and work in the food
A graduate may find a
job as a food scientist or
technologist, or sometimes
both. Generally, a food
scientist is concerned with
the fundamental proper-
ties of food, such as -. -
nutritive value, caloric Genita Cockrell ouw
content, flavor, and color. Employed with the
A technologist works with stuffed crab Caribb
product development,
processing, and quality control.
Marshall says that a food science
degree combined with a minor in mar-
keting is good preparation for students
headed for the food processing industry.
Many managers in processing plants
have master's degrees in food science.
Students interested in the research side

Id her dream job-testing and developing new seafood products.
Bee Gee Shrimp Company in Lakeland, FL, Genita tests such products as
ean, pasta primevero, and oysters Bienville.

of food science often pursue a doctorate
for positions at universities or as lead-
ers of research departments in industry.
In addition to possessing strong
science and business skills, newcomers
to the food science industry must also
be articulate speakers and concise

Typically, graduates entering the
food processing industry start out in
quality control and assurance programs,
judging whether a product meets a
company's standards and government
requirements. Starting salaries in 1990
generally range from $19,000 to $25,000
a year.

New Products:
From Laboratory to Supermarket
Lawrence Johnson, a 1977 IFAS
graduate, is now director of research
and development for Tropicana Prod-
ucts Inc. in Bradenton, FL. "For stu-
dents willing to work very hard for a
couple of years, not in a glamour job,
but at something where they get their
hands dirty every day, there definitely
is a fast track," he says.
The thrill of creating a new product
that winds up on a supermarket shelf
attracts many food scientists to re-
search and development. At Bee Gee,
the research and development depart-
ment is discreetly tucked away in the
rear of a warehouse, behind ceiling-high
stacks of seafood breading. "Authorized
Personnel Only," warns a red sign on
the door.
Inside, Genita and her assistants
cook in what Genita calls "the
laboratory"-a kitchen equipped with
industrial-sized fryers and refriger-
ators. "We're developing two new
product lines, but I can't talk about
them-they're top secret," she says.
Developing a product from scratch
takes a combination of know-how and
creativity, plus a lot of patience.
Lawrence says that launching the
successful new "Twister" line of tropical
fruit juices took about 2 years. Genita
says she can work on a single product
for a year.

Besides doing research and development, Genito Cockrell also keeps an eye on the quality of product preparation.

"Sometimes it's frustrating," says
Genita. "I can't schedule something as
fast as people want it scheduled. I can't
get it out fast enough."
Lawrence supervises a staff of 14
people. Tropicana, he says, prides itself
on being an aggressive player in the
marketplace. During the last 4 years,
Tropicana has released a new product
or packaging every 90 days.
"It's been terribly exciting to watch,"
he says. "I enjoy the satisfaction of
watching something go from the bench
to market."
Genita says she never forgets that
she is competing against people with
twice her experience. "I put in a lot of
extra hours in the laboratory," she says.
"There is always something on the back
When she created a new glazed
stuffed shrimp, Genita spent hours in
her laboratory kitchen, trying to get just

the right taste, texture, color, and
aroma. She also had to make sure the
shrimp would be juicy and tender every
time it was cooked.
She makes it a practice to enlist
colleagues, family, and even company
repair workers to tell her what they
think of her new culinary creations. Her
family, she says, enjoys trying rejected
products and trying to figure out what
is wrong with them.
Once she works out the kinks in a
product, she invites the company
president and vice president to a taste-
testing session in a formal dining room
adjoining the kitchen. She usually pre-
sents several items at one time.
If her products are approved by
company leaders, then Genita savors
her favorite part of the job. "It's not
easy, and it takes a long time, but when
I finally get it right and I see it in pro-
duction, that's a neat thing."

Port III The Business of Agriculture

MurrayD. Lull:

Rural Banker

The 20th century was 8 years old
when a Kansan named Lull started
banking in the geographic center of the
continental United States. His son, a
teacher, later asked to join the family
Lull warned his son that their rural
service area was losing residents. In
turn, that son warned his son. Then the
third Lull in line warned the fourth.
But as the population dwindled from
more than 15,000 to 5,000, the Smith
County State Bank stayed in business.
Today, Murray D. Lull is the fourth
generation of his family to serve as the
bank's president.
His wood-paneled office in Smith
Center, KS, is filled with a mixture of
mementos, books, and computer
equipment. It is dominated by a carved
seal of the State of Kansas, pictures of
his predecessors, and an entire wall of
windows looking into the bank.
His customers are people he has
known all his life. They can always
easily see if "Murray's in."
"My 12-year-old daughter comes in
and says, 'I'm going to be sitting where
you are someday,'" he says. "I have to
wonder how she could have a 30- or 40-
year career. I want more of a future for
her, but the population of many rural
areas is decreasing.
"I'm hoping the golden years are still
ahead for us. In any case, as long as
you're eager about getting up every
morning and doing the best you can
that day, you're going to last a lot
longer than those who are fearful."
Despite his guarded optimism,
Murray is fighting to ensure that the
family bank remains viable. His

by Kathleen Ward, Extension Communications
Specialist, Kansas State University,
Manhattan, KS

With guarded optimism, Murray D. Lull is fighting to ensure that the
family bank remains viable. Lull is the fourth generation of his
family to serve as president of the Smith County State Bank, Smith
Center, KS.

methods address not only his children's
future but also the futures of his home
town and of agricultural banking.
Murray believes that the successful
banker is a good neighbor. It is just
being a good neighbor to help secure
Federal economic development grant
funds to help a local travel-trailer
manufacturer expand, to expand his
bank's services into overseeing trusts
throughout north central Kansas, to
testify before the State legislature in
Topeka, to help plan national and
regional banking schools, or to meet
with Federal officials on Capitol Hill.

"The worst indictment I could face is
that I stood in the way of progress, of
growth," he says.
Murray emphasizes he is able to be
this involved in his community and
industry only because the Smith County
State Bank and Trust Company has
outstanding employees and because his
dad is still chairman of the board.
He encourages his employees'
community activities too.
"If you chip in your part, whether
you're a jeweler, a hardware store
owner, a real estate broker, or a banker,
the total of everyone's involvement
keeps your community alive," Murray
Bank employees now serve as
leaders in service organizations, the
local Chamber of Commerce, and the
zoning commission. The city even
named one of Murray's coworkers to
serve on the Smith Center Tree Board,
which oversees the planting and care of
community trees to maintain the town's
overall attractiveness.
"Banking is fun," he admits with a
grin. "I like being a positive part of so
many different enterprises-the farm
that prospers, the Main Street business
that hangs in there, the homeowners
who get the house they've always
wanted. Banking is working with people
and some of their fundamental needs."
The toughest part of banking is being
unable to help some people, Murray
adds. He worries that rural bankers are
becoming even more restricted in the
help they can provide.
"Two years ago, Kansas had 625
banks. Today we have 575. In another
5 years, you'll probably see the disap-
pearance of at least another 100," he
says. "The good news for us is that
Kansas adopted a law that will allow
many small banks to continue as
branches of banking systems."

Rural Banker

Even so, the handshake-and-a-
promise days are gone, Murray says.
"It's been popular to say farming
isn't a way of life any more, that it's a
business," he points out. "Farming is
becoming more and more businesslike.
But if it weren't a way of life, there
wouldn't be so many willing to live with
the long hours, the heartbreaks, the
rain that didn't come.
"That's why borrower character still
is one of the paramount things we
consider, even though it carries little
weight when a bank examiner looks at
that person's credit."

Changing Times for Rural Banks
In the past, rural banks could give
producers some flexibility, Murray says.
Bankers knew that repaying a tractor
loan would take most farmers an
average of 4 or 5 years, even if they paid
less in bad years and more in good
Now farmers must prove their ability
to make set payments and follow a
strict schedule. And they must repay all
their tractor debt-in 4 or 5 years.
"Examiners may decide a person's
loan is substandard due to the prob-
ability of failing crops or the declining
value of equity," he says, "but they don't
often consider the fact that the farmer
has always paid his debts for 40 years."
Murray is the only member of his
family to train specifically for a banking
career. He first spent several years,
however, as an examiner, working from
1970 to 1972 for the Federal Reserve
Bank of Kansas City, where he helped
examine State-chartered banks.
"Dad had a couple of requirements
before I could join the business. First, I
had to work for someone else, so I could

"I'm just a Kansas banker who knows agriculture," says Murray Lull. Wherever rural bankers operate, they're serving farmers, he
says, and "they are probably the cream of the crop, so far as people are concerned."

see if we were getting in a rut. And I
had to let a little time expire, so people
wouldn't see me as that high school kid
they used to know," he says.
His experience working for the
Federal Reserve gave Murray a good
idea of the limitations and benefits of
bank regulators' roles.
In Kansas, the U.S. Comptroller of
the Currency sends examiners to all
national banks; the Kansas Banking
Department regulates and examines
State-chartered banks. The Federal
Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
also sends examiners to State banks
that are FDIC-insured, and the Federal
Reserve Bank of Kansas City examines
the other State banks.

"Banks need and appreciate regu-
latory review. It has kept us indepen-
dent, relatively strong, and stable
through a lot of tough times," he says.
"We just want consistent and equal
Murray says well-run banks will
always have a limited number of loans
with more than ordinary risk.
"You don't serve your community
without taking risk," he explains. "Still,
the question is becoming this: How far
should the bank expose itself to criti-
cism by taking a chance on a customer?
Should the bank play it perfectly safe,
as some might want?"
A related question is, How can banks
meet today's examiners' requirements
for sound loans, yet also comply with

Part III The Busess of Agriuhure

the Community Reinvestment Act? This
law, which was enacted in the 1970's
and last amended in 1989, requires
banks to address community needs,
"especially those of residents making
low to moderate incomes, which means
agriculture generally," Murray says.
For rural bankers, the law is simply
good business, he says. It is also a
reason lenders have to know their cus-
tomers' business. And this can create
another dilemma.
"Customers come in looking for ad-
vice," Murray says. "I have to under-
stand where they're going in their busi-
ness management, yet not tell them
how to manage their businesses. That's
their job."
Murray is the third Lull to serve in
leadership positions in both the Kansas
and the American Bankers Associa-
tions. In 1990, Murray Lull was chair-
man of the ABA's agriculture division
and one of 10 ABA Banking Advisors
working with media across the United
States, talking about banking-related
According to Murray, agricultural
banking is the most encompassing
division in the ABA, spanning the
United States and including the largest
and smallest banks.
"Rural bankers in Virginia, Texas,
California, and Montana all have about
the same work to do every day," he says.
"It's been fun being their spokes-
person for a few years. I'm just a
Kansas banker who knows wheat, milo,
and cattle. But whether you're banking
where the product is cotton, oranges,
salmon, or corn, you're still serving
farmers, and they are probably the
cream of the crop, so far as people are

Those bankers also are facing about
the same problems: declining rural
populations and increasing competition,
not only from urban banks but also
from nonbanking institutions that are
being allowed to offer more and more
banking services.
"You can measure the deposits in
rural banks by looking at their quar-
terly statements," he says. "But it's a
mistake to measure rural people's
financial assets by that.
"It's amazing how many rural resi-
dents deposit their money in big towns,
in other States, in savings and loan
institutions. They're investing with
insurance companies, brokers, and even
those chain stores that sell everything
from socks to stocks-companies
whose services banks aren't allowed to
Added together, though, those
deposits and investments still do not
give an accurate picture.
"Rural people's wealth comes out of
the ground and from livestock. Every
spring, new life sprouts in the fields.
Baby pigs and lambs arrive. It's a
renewal," Murray says. "Those raw
products also generate new economic
life that, through processing and pack-
aging, multiplies their value and ripples
out to enrich countless numbers of
"How long will rural America as we
know it last? Who knows?"
Smiling broadly, Murray adds, "Any-
way, I'm committed. We've built a home
in Smith Center, and I've got a daugh-
ter who wants to go into banking!"

Hoping that the golden years are still ahead, Lull is eager to do the
best for his family, community, and bank.

Rural Banker

Leonard Harris:

Spreading Electronic Market Data in North Dakota

In rural North Dakota, on a family
farm with 2,200 acres and 10 cows,
Leonard Harris is trying to spread a
new technology that can help other
farmers help themselves.

Marketing Information Systems
In 1987 Leonard's brother-in-law in
Minnesota subscribed to a marketing
information service that was beamed to
Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska over
FM radio towers. On a screen similar to
a computer screen he could view up-to-
the-minute information on futures,
grains, livestock, local weather, and
"When I saw it," says Leonard, "I
thought that this technology could help
us help ourselves in agriculture through
marketing." He approached the Data
Transmission Network Corporation in
Omaha, NE, about receiving the service
in his home in North Dakota. The
company said that North Dakota's
population was too sparse to make data
transmission profitable.
However, the Data Transmission
Network soon came out with a new
satellite dish through which the service
could be received in sparsely populated
areas. Leonard called the company as
soon as he heard about the new dish,
and by January 1989 he had his own
system on the way.

New System
The new Data Transmission Net-
work system consists of a 34-inch
satellite dish connected by a cable to a
screen. A one-time fee of $295 covers all

by Carey Neshem, Student Assistant, North
Dakota State University Extension Service,
Fargo, ND

North Dakota farmers who are subscribers to the Data Transmission Network system receive up-to-the-minute marketing information.
Futures and options prices are transmitted continuously to subscribers as they appear on grain and livestock exchanges, such as the
Kansas City Board of Trade.

maintenance and repair costs, for as
long as the owner subscribes.
Subscribing to the marketing service
is similar to subscribing to cable tele-
vision, Leonard says. The basic sub-
scription rate includes 75 information
screens (or pages) that cover five
topics-futures, grains, livestock, local
weather, and bids-plus a rural shop-
ping service, all for $29.95 a month. The
company updates the information peri-
odically throughout the day. The
futures and options prices are con-
tinuously transmitted as they appear on
several grain and livestock exchanges,
with a 10-minute transmission delay.
"It's strictly an information system,"
Leonard says. "No one tells you what to
do. You make decisions based on the
information at your fingertips."

Advisory programs are available
through the system, but they are not
included in the basic subscription rate,
Leonard says. Thirty electronic news-
letters are available, including advisory
services on hogs, cattle, grain, weather,
and trading, and these allow individual
subscribers to tailor the system to their
own operations.
Leonard stresses that computers are
not involved. The owner simply uses
two switches to go back and forth from
screen to screen.
Within 2 weeks of receiving his own
Data Transmission Network system,
Leonard and his neighbor Don Bauman
began traveling all over North Dakota
and into Montana and South Dakota to
agricultural shows, elevators, FFA

Port III The Business of Agriculture

chapters, and individual
farms, telling people about
the system and how it would
enable them to compete in
agricultural markets. Leonard
and Don work on commission
as independent sales agents.
"The future of farming is
changing," Leonard says. "It's
getting pretty competitive out
there, and we're going to have
to become marketers and get
the most out of our market-
place. We want to help make
the farmers marketers and
managers, with good business
Not only is Leonard
concerned with helping
today's farmers, but he also
wants to help improve
tomorrow's. He has convinced
Data Transmission Network
to develop a plan to place its Advisory progn
system in schools for free. in the basic sub
"Vo-ag departments are individual subs
teaching marketing, and this
system brings it alive for the kids-
instead of having them read about it in
a 10-year-old textbook," Leonard says.
"They're the future of American
agriculture. If we can get them involved
and interested, they will learn and they
may find a money-making opportunity."

Developing the Programs
Leonard and Don have been working
closely with Data Transmission Net-
work since 1989 to develop programs for
the northern Midwest. "We're not com-
pany representatives just out to sell
units," he says. "We're trying to develop
the programs for our area, because most
of the programs are designed for the
Corn Belt."

ims are available through the Data Transmission Network system, but they
scription rate. Advisory services on cattle, grain, hogs, trading, and weather
cribers to tailor the system to their own operations.

For example, Leonard and Don were
instrumental in bringing into the
service an hourly radar weather page
for farmers in North Dakota, South
Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota.
"Originally, the page only showed the
Corn Belt," Leonard says. "Don and I
told the company that the weather
down there was OK, but we needed
weather for farmers up here as well. So
they are designing a screen for farmers
in our region."
Leonard and Don also helped region-
alize the local elevator page for North
Dakota farmers, and they designed
from scratch a Minneapolis cash grain
page that shows what is happening on
the trading floor throughout the day.
"We know each day at closing what all
the elevators are paying, without mak-

ing calls," Leonard says,
"and that can make a
difference in how we market
our grain."

00 Reaching America's Farmers
S Leonard's wife, Edith, is
Sin charge of all the corres-
pondence and bookkeeping.
"We couldn't have done all
this without her," Leonard
Leonard has spent many
hours on the road and a lot
of his own money trying to
reach farmers, often at the
B expense of family time. "We
have set a mission for our-
selves, to help educate the
SAmerican farmer to be more
5 market oriented, and we
Think this system can help,"
re not included he says.
allow He and Don work on
commission and set their
own hours. They also pay
out of their own pockets for most of the
advertising and mailings done to pro-
mote the Data Transmission Network
service in North Dakota.
Leonard says that he likes to treat
his customers on a personal basis as
much as possible. He does so by pro-
viding a 24-hour toll-free number and,
with Edith's help, sending out frequent
mailings to all their customers.
In January 1989, Leonard became
the first farmer in North Dakota to own
a Data Transmission Network system.
Since then he and Don have sold hun-
dreds of systems in the State.
"We have what we consider the nicest
part-time job," Leonard says, "because
we're helping others to help themselves."

Spreading Electronic Market Data in North Dakota

Sharon and John Gibbons:

Honey of a Hobby Sweetens Retirement Plans

3noron wooons cneccs proouaon in one or ner
Missouri State Fair.

Sharon and John Gibbons are busy,
busy, busy with the Gibbons Bee Farm
in Ballwin, MO. Honey is the principal
enterprise on their farm, but their bees
also help pollinate orchard and field
crops across much of eastern Missouri.
Both Sharon and John hold off-farm
jobs in the St. Louis area-Sharon as a
dental hygienist and John as a free-
lance executive recruiter.

by James D. Ritchie, Agricultural Journalist,
Versailles, MO

colonies or aees. ner oees proouuea mie gronu ciIumpIon nuney u1m 1e

The Gibbonses did not exactly fly
into the beekeeping business without
giving it a lot of thought. They began by
purchasing a small farm in Crawford
County, on the northeastern rim of the
Missouri Ozarks, where they planned to
make their home after retirement.
To provide an income supplement
later on, they planted trees on the land.
But trees are a slow-paying proposition.
"We wanted to begin an enterprise that
would start yielding income quicker,"
recalls Sharon.

Port III The Business of Agriculture

Irr. Lnr

~c. 4Y" '~

The ancient art of tending honey-
bees, perhaps? Sharon read up on the
subject and enrolled in a beekeeping
workshop. Still, she was not convinced
that bees and honey would mesh with
her spare time and temperament.
"John fairly well decided the ques-
tion one evening, when he came home
with two colonies of bees and all the
equipment we needed to get started,"
Sharon remembers. "We were in the bee

How Sweet It Is
The Gibbonses concentrated on pro-
ducing quality honey that could be sold
directly to consumers. Sharon sold
honey from those first few colonies of
bees through gift shops and specialty
stores. As her expertise grew, so did the
scale of the honey hobby.
Today, Gibbons Bee Farm has about
100 colonies, producing more than
4 tons of the natural liquid sweetener
each year. All that honey is extracted
and packed at the Gibbons home, and
virtually all of it sells at retail.

Depending on what species of plants
happen to be in bloom, the Gibbons'
bees may range over a 50-mile radius,
from the Mississippi River north of St.
Louis to Augusta, well up the Missouri
"The most hives we put in any one
location is 20," says Sharon. "Bees work
an area within about 2 miles of the
hive. If they must fly much farther than
that, they waste too much time and
energy. As a result, we spend a lot of
time moving the bees to where the
blossoms are."
The Gibbonses have learned to
specialize by producing different types
of honey. Early in the year, they place
hives where the winged couriers can
collect nectar from clovers, honeysuckle,
black locust, and fruit tree blossoms. In
late summer, the bees harvest asters,
goldenrod, and other fall-blooming
plants. Sharon processes and packages
the two types of honey separately.
"Clover and fruit-tree honey is light-
colored, delicately flavored, and ideal
for table use," she explains. "The honey
made later in the season-we call it
Ozark Wildflower-is darker and
stronger flavored and gives a more
distinct honey flavor in cooking and
The Gibbonses stress quality. The
ribbons, plaques, and medals on their
wall are testimony to how well they
have succeeded. Gibbons Bee Farm
honey has garnered awards at national
competitions sponsored by the Ameri-
can Beekeepers Association, and it was
picked as grand champion of the 1988
Missouri State Fair. A year later, Gib-
bons honey won blue ribbons in 10 of a
possible 15 honey categories at the
State Fair.

Honey of a Hobby Sweetens Retirement Plans

Processed Honey Products
Sharon has developed a variety of
honey-based products to please the
palates of her customers. She whips or
spins honey and blends in pieces of
fruit-apricot, peach, raspberry, apple,
strawberry-to make a unique spread
for toast, muffins, and other breads.
Gibbons Honey Crunch is a light,
honey-coated popcorn, packaged as a
ready-to-eat snack.
"We have tried to come up with as
many different honey-based products as
we can adequately manage and mar-
ket," says Sharon. "We also pack wood-
en crates and baskets with a variety of
honeys and honey-related products to
market to people as gifts for friends and
Most Gibbons Bee Farm honey still
sells through gift shops, specialty food
stores, and other retail outlets. In
recent years, Sharon has also developed
a direct-mail clientele, with a growing
list of repeat buyers.
The direct-mail effort got a boost
when Gibbons Bee Farm honey and
other products were selected for the
Best of Missouri Farms catalog, pub-

lished by the University of Missouri-
Columbia and University Extension.
Products featured in the catalog are
judged by the University's Food Science
Department, and some 10,000 copies of
the publication are distributed
"The Best of Missouri Farms catalog
put me in touch with buyers I would
never have contacted otherwise," says
Sharon. "We are selling honey to cus-
tomers virtually from coast to coast."
Sharon admits to being concerned-
not worried-about the effect that ag-
gressive Africanized bees, which have
been migrating north in recent years,
may have on their enterprise.
"I've read that Africanized bees from
South America are coming into the
United States within the next year or
so," she says. "I hope scientists will
solve the problem. If not, I'll simply
have to learn how to handle them."
The only other problem (if it is a
problem) with the Gibbons' beekeeping
hobby is that it has grown into a full-
time enterprise before Sharon and John
are quite ready to retire. "When we do
retire," says Sharon, "we shouldn't be
spending a lot of time in rocking

me noneyoee, creoaor or a gotaen near mom nos grown mio more
than a retirement hobby.

Port III The Business of Agriculture

John Harris:

Integrating Beef on a Large, Diversified Operation

There are two sights
people remember most
about driving through the
San Joaquin Valley. One is
the California Aqueduct; the
other is cattle, thousands of
cattle, roaming a giant
feedlot near Coalinga.
This is the largest feedlot
in California and part of one
of the most sophisticated
livestock and farming oper-
ations in the United States
-Harris Ranch. Perhaps no
other outfit illustrates just
how much the beef industry
has changed out West since
the sun set on the big cattle
drives of a bygone era.
Indeed, the structure of
Harris Ranch more closely a
resembles the vertically John Hris (left
cattle in one of th
integrated poultry industry, 400 pens. The pe
with which it competes in
the protein marketplace.
From the stocker operations that supply
the feedlot with the raw material of
sirloins, fillets, and New York strips to
the refrigerated trucks that ship boxed
Harris beef to upscale supermarkets
throughout the West, the Harris
organization focuses on monitoring the
entire production process to ensure

Farming the Westside
John Harris doesn't quite fit the
popular image of a craggy, saddleworn
cattleman. His business attire, and that
of his senior staff, consists of jeans, a
blue cotton dress shirt, and cowboy
boots. He has the weathered look of a


Cowboy foreman Howard Harshman (center), and pen rider Kelly Street (rig,
ie feedlot pens on the Harris Ranch 600-acre feedlot. The feedlot holds 100,0O
n rider monitors the herd for any signs of health problems.

man who'd rather be out riding fence
with the cowboys who work for him
than going to meetings and interviews.
"I didn't grow up roping cattle," John
says. "My background is more in farm-
ing." In fact, his family did not even get
into the cattle business until 1964, well
before I-5 blazed its asphalt trail across
the Panoche Plain. The freeway lies a
stone's throw from the feedlot.
John can trace his family tree back
through Texas to Mississippi. At the
turn of the century, his grandfather
moved to southern California's Imperial
Valley and started one of the State's
first cotton gins. John's father, however,
yearned for his own operation and in
1937 started farming a half section of
land on the unforgiving west side of the
San Joaquin Valley.

"* According to University
of California animal scien-
tist Ken Ellis, John's
father had his work cut out
for him: "You had to know
what you were doing.
Farming the Westside in
the early days was really
tough. That part of the
State can be a fairly inhos-
pitable environment for
agriculture, so it's still a
challenge." Summer tem-
peratures normally sizzle
well above 100 degrees
Fahrenheit, rainfall is
i scant throughout the year,
and geological processes
have cursed portions of the
Westside with soil and
t water problems.
ht) discuss the Until the 1960's, the
catle i Harrises grew cotton and
grains. But the new aque-
duct brought water from
the mountains of northern California
and changed the character of the San
Joaquin Valley forever. The desert
bloomed with fruits, nuts, and vege-
tables that would have been impossible
to grow otherwise.
John now farms more than 15,000
acres, producing more than 30 different
crops-everything from carrots, lettuce,
garlic, onions, tomatoes, cotton, and
melons to oranges, lemons, walnuts,
almonds, and wine grapes-in addition
to the beef operations. He also raises
thoroughbred horses.

A Knack for the Niche
Diversification is not uncommon in a
State that produces more than 250
different commodities commercially,
and John oversees the production of

Integrating Beef on a Large, Diversified Operation

by John Stumbos, Public Information
Representative, University of California,
Davis, CA

enough agricultural bounty to feed
several good-sized cities-a large farm
by any standard. What really sets John
apart is his ability to zero in on a mar-
ket niche, something he just may have
inherited from his father.

John recalls that his father got into
the cattle business back in the 1960's
because he spotted a good opportunity-
there were not many feedlots in Cali-
fornia. He started out small, with a
mere 15,000 head in the feedlot. On any

given day now there are about 100,000
head on the 600-acre feedlot.
The senior Harris died in 1981, leav-
ing the entire operation to his only son.
John, who earned a degree in agricul-
tural production from the University of


A sample r me llves5ocK or me norrs Kancn wnicn inlOues nererorM, LlUcK Angus, ana Uranman name. narrs says, me oiggesr cnanenge ror us is 1o onvmce me consumer mar we nave a neamny, nulriinous
product that meets the needs of their eating habits."

Part III The Business of Agriculture

California at Davis in 1965, had been
running the farming operation since he
and his wife, Carol, returned from 3
years of military service in Korea. Soon
John put his own signature on the
family cattle business by moving away
from traditional marketing of live cattle
toward carcass production, boxed beef,
and eventually to his own name brand.
"He knew he had to take the opera-
tion into a new place if it were to sur-
vive," recalls Jane Anderson, executive
director of the California Beef Council.
"John has always been open to doing
things differently. That's a compliment,
because he works in an industry where
people like to do things the way they've
always been done."

Onions harvested and packaged in the field, ready for
transportation to market.

Integrating Beef on a Large, Diversified Operation

John began the long process of
building the Harris brand into one that
people would recognize and associate
with quality. That was no small task in
the early 1980's, when beef suffered a
serious image problem and U.S. con-
sumers continued the trend of eating
less red meat. Nevertheless, the poultry
industry had long since embraced the
idea of marketing a brand name
product, so why not beef?
"One reason is that chickens raised
throughout the United States are much
closer to each other in genetic makeup,"
explains animal scientist Ellis. "With
cattle we are dealing with 30 to 40 dif-
ferent breeds with variable types within

each breed. Coupled with the fact that
the cattle are raised in many different
environments, it becomes more difficult
to establish and maintain a uniform
meat quality."
Because Harris Ranch is more ver-
tically integrated than other western
cattle operations, however, it can con-
trol many of the variables that might
lead to a tender steak one day and a
stringy piece of meat the next.

Meeting New Consumer Markets
Mindful of consumer food safety
concerns, Harris Ranch is also one of
the few cattle operations in the United
States that have been able to meet the

3' '

then to California.


strict standards of USDA's residue
avoidance program. No hormones,
chemicals, or artificial ingredients are
used in raising the animals for the
Harris brand.
The key to ensuring residue avoid-
ance is the expensive process of
monitoring the specially formulated
feed. The Herefords, Angus, Brahmas,
and various mixed breeds in the 400
feedlot pens are fed different compu-
terized rations of rolled whole grains,
bran, molasses, alfalfa, vitamins, and
minerals to meet the various speci-
fications of different markets.

Japanese Yen for Beef
One niche that Harris Ranch has
targeted successfully in recent years is
especially worth noting.
The Japanese people do not eat much
meat-about 13 pounds per capital per
year. When they do eat beef, however,
they often seek a highly marbled beef,
Kobe beef, that can sell for $50 to $60 a
pound. In Japan a special breed of cat-
tle, Wagyu, is fed a high-protein, high-
energy diet to fatten them well beyond
USDA prime grade. The cattle are
finish fed for up to 18 months and given
massages and even a little beer in their
diet to reduce stress.

While John hasn't yet tapped a keg
for his cattle, he has bred a well-
received Wagyu-Black Angus cross that
is finish fed for up to 10 months. (Cattle
bound for domestic consumption
typically are fed for 4 months before
making the trip to the packing house.)
The Japanese are as enchanted as
anyone else with the California mys-
tique. "California is perceived to be of
higher quality for any agricultural prod-
uct," John says. "Australia's beef may
be cheaper, but ours is what they want."
Japan has had restrictive quotas on
beef imports, which won't be com-
pletely phased out until April 1991.
John discovered a partial way around
the quotas by shipping live cattle. About
20 percent of the tonnage he will ship
this year will be switching flies on the
airport tarmac when they depart for
"I recognize this is the least efficient
way of shipping," John explains. "But
this is a tough business we're in, and we
need to figure out any way we can to be
John and Carol Harris have figured
out many ways to be different. They
have developed an "oasis" hacienda a
few miles south of the feedlot on 1-5,
with conference facilities, an inn, a pool,
an airstrip, and three restaurants. The
red tile roof, stately stucco archways,

and pale turquoise trim are a tribute to
the Southwest's rich heritage. More
than 2,000 people visit the hacienda
each day, and some spend time
exploring the country store.
John is acutely aware of the public
relations value the inn provides. "It
puts a lot of pressure on us to keep the
quality up," he says. But John has long
been aware of public perceptions. In the
early 1980's, he was instrumental in
persuading his fellow cattle ranchers to
extend a mandatory assessment pro-
gram nationwide to save beef's faltering
image through research and promotion.
His commitment to the industry
through the years earned John the 1990
Cattle Businessman of the Year award
from the National Cattlemen's Asso-
ciation. "That was more of a company
award," he says with pride, sharing the
credit with the 1,300 employees of
Harris Ranch.
As much as nutrition research has
helped to restore the position of beef in
public opinion, John believes that the
job is not done. "The biggest challenge
for us is convincing the consumer we
have a healthy, nutritious product that
meets their eating habits," he says.
With innovators like John Harris at
work, the job will be easier.

Port III The Business of Agriculture

John Barrientos:

Growing an Agricultural Career

Personnel work, critical
yet often overlooked in
much of agriculture, occu-
pies many men and women
in various roles. Most of
these people are found
within the production
firms themselves, but
many work through service
organizations. One of these
professionals is John
Barrientos, a labor field
representative with the
Farm Employers Labor
Service, an affiliate of the
California Farm Bureau
John helps agricultural
employers improve rela-
tions with personnel, pre- Rudolpho Galindo (l
vent labor disputes, and Forms in Salinas, CA
resolve conflicts as they "to handle the diffic
occur. His clientele in-
cludes the operators of more than 100
agricultural businesses-farms, win-
eries, packing sheds, nurseries, and
others-that employ some 2,000
workers overall.
John has been around agriculture for
virtually all of his 37 years. He has had
experience in a range of field and mana-
gerial jobs that have helped equip him
for this important work that affects so
many people.
Born in Salinas, CA, he still lives
there with his wife and their four chil-
dren (ages 10, 8, 6, and 5). His father
was a lettuce harvest crew leader.
Before joining the Farm Employers
Labor Service, John worked directly for
a few vegetable firms based in Salinas.

by Howard R. Rosenberg, Agricultural Labor
Management Specialist, Department of
Agricultural and Resource Economics,
University of California Cooperative Extension,
Berkeley, CA

eft), crew foreman, John Barrientos (center), and Steve Nishita (right), co-ow
SBarrientos acts as an ombudsman for the farm laborers. A major challenge
ult situations without letting my own feelings interfere."

From 1966 to 1981 he was an artichoke
cutter, tractor driver, irrigator, payroll
clerk, employee service representative,
lettuce processing operation supervisor,
and safety manager with Sea Mist
Farms and Bud Antle, Inc.

Growing Interest
As employee relations manager at
the Garin Company, John developed
personnel policies, implemented the
safety program, participated in union
contract negotiations, handled griev-
ances, and provided general liaison
between management and employees.
This experience led to a similar position
with D'Arrigo Brothers Company.
There, as personnel and safety man-
ager, he conducted workplace safety
audits, coordinated safety training, and
supervised the handling of workers
compensation insurance claims.

'ner of NishitL
for Barrientos is


personal sentiments from
professional responsi-
bilites-"to handle the difficult
situations that arise in this kind of job,"
he says, "without letting my own feel-
ings interfere. I have picked up some
helpful techniques by working under
the wings of a few seasoned, knowledge-
able managers."
Although many contributions of
personnel managers are subtle and thus
unrecognized even by their benefici-
aries, the appreciation that John does
receive from others is very gratifying to
He enjoys the variety of working
with multiple clients and situations in
his present position, especially pro-
viding guidance to farm managers who
want to build good relationships with
workers. When called to deal with a
problem that has already surfaced,
however, John generally needs to begin
by managing expectations. He says, "No
third party can just come in and clear
up deep-rooted problems that have been
developing for years."

Growing an Agricultural Career

Having studied
agricultural engineering
at California Polytechnic
Institute, Pomona, John
did not become interested
in personnel work until
his payroll job exposed
him to a range of
employee concerns and
labor relations problems.
Since that time, he has
found great satisfaction
in helping people through
personnel work.

A major challenge in
John's position is the
frequent need to separate

David Marvin:

Tapping into the Vermont Maple Business

For most of Vermont's
maple producers, sugaring
is a sideline business, a
way to supplement farm
income in an otherwise
slow time of year. For
David Marvin, owner of
Butternut Mountain Farm,
however, maple is his
profession and his passion.
One of the State's top
maple producers, Dave is
also one of the few who
have been able to make a
successful living from the
sticky, sweet, amber-
colored syrup. Although he
also runs a small forestry
consulting service and
wholesales about 3,000
Christmas trees a year, the
nucleus of his business is
Dave runs 11,000 taps
on his 1,000-acre farm in
Johnson, in northern
Vermont. He produces
more than 3,000 gallons of .
syrup in a good year.
Unfortunately, in three out
of the past four seasons
production has been below
average for a number of
reasons, including
unfavorable weather vid Marvin on
conditions, maple tree from the sticky, sw
decline, and the pesky pear
thrip. He has kept up with
demand from wholesale and retail
markets by buying local syrup. He notes
that "many people like to produce, but
not sell. I don't want to produce if I
can't sell what I make for a profit."

by lisa Halvorsen, Extension Press Editor,
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

~~fp~ ~ci

cially in the older stands.
Many of Dave's trees already
are suffering from premature
loss of foliage, slow-healing
tapholes, defoliation, and other
signs of decline, and he can
only speculate as to the cause.
He blames the loss of vigor on
acid rain and other airborne
pollutants as well as recent
infestations of a tiny pear-
shaped thrip. His temporary
solution has been to limit the
number of taps per tree and to
thin stands conservatively,
particularly those containing
mature sugar maples.
"We are losing a lot of trees,
and this concerns me," he
admits. "In young unmanaged
stands there may be as many
as 1,000 trees per acre, so loss
of a few trees is not as critical.
As a forester, I've always used
thinning to improve the sugar-
bush. But with the maple
decline and the impact of a lot
of stress, entomologists are
recommending that producers
don't thin now. There is strong
evidence that heavy thinning
adds another stress to already
weakened trees."

e of Vermont's top maple syrup producers. He has been able to make a successful living Selection by Sweetness
et, amber-colored syrup. Selecin by Sweene
One 60-year-old tree on

Sugarbush Management
Dave considers himself a steward of
the land, managing his timberland and
sugarbush (the sugar maple trees used
to produce syrup) to ensure profits but
also to protect the individual trees and
the land.
He is concerned about the effect of
the environment on the maples, espe-

Dave's property, a product of
two genetically sweet parents, fertile
soil, large crown, good exposure to the
sun, and other ideal conditions, has
registered an 8-percent sugar concen-
tration on the refractometer, compared
to a sugar concentration of 2 to 3
percent for the average tree. Dave has
affectionately dubbed it "Champion"

Part III The Business of Agriculture

rPa x
Dave checks the pipeline feeding into the storage tanks for
possible leaks. He opted to go with plastic pipelines rather than
the traditional system of tops and buckets. He has more than
100 miles of tubing set up through his woods to deliver sap to
the storage tanks.

and hopes someday to have a mountain
covered with trees as sweet as this one
through selective thinning of the
"The traditional method of estab-
lishing a sugarbush involves working a
stand of seedling- to sapling-sized trees
to select those that show vigor, good
form, and rapid growth," Dave explains.
"I prefer to select trees based on sweet-
ness. I measure the sweetness of indivi-
dual trees, then determine how sweet
each is in relation to its neighbors.
"If two trees are close together, and
one tests 2 percent and the other,
3 percent, the tree testing 2 percent
would require 43 gallons of sap to make
1 gallon of syrup. For the tree with a
3-percent sugar concentration, only
29 gallons of sap are needed for 1 gallon
of syrup."

He bases his thinking in part on the
results of a study conducted by his late
father, James Marvin, a botany pro-
fessor at the University of Vermont, and
the late Fred Laing, another well-
known Vermont maple researcher. The
study concluded that trees maintain
their relative ranking in terms of sugar
concentration in a mature stand. In
addition, other research has shown that
the sweeter trees also appear to produce
a larger volume of sap.

Value of Research
Dave recognizes the value of re-
search and so has participated in
several studies throughout the years.
He is now beginning his third year of
participation in a cooperative research
project with the Finnish Forestry
Institute to determine the effects of
some soil amendments, including
commercial fertilizers, wood ash, lime,
and organic fertilizer, on tree health.
He periodically collects samples of
twigs from the crowns of trees on sev-
eral test and control plots to send to
Finland for nutrient analysis. Although
the data still are inconclusive, Dave
believes that information gathered
through this research someday will
help maple producers improve their
production through better sugarbush

Staying Ahead with New Technology
Dave's interest in research and new
technology also has helped him stay
ahead of the competition. When he
started managing his sugarbush in
1973, for example, he opted to go with
plastic pipeline, a new concept at the
time, rather than the traditional system

Tapping into the Vermont Maple Business

of taps and buckets, which required
many hours to collect the sap and haul
it to the sugarhouse for boiling. He now
has more than 100 miles of tubing set
up through his woods, which, when
conditions are right, deliver sap to the
storage tanks at the sugarhouse at the
foot of Butternut Mountain.
In 1979 he purchased a reverse
osmosis machine that removes much of
the water from the sap, at a rate of
1,000 gallons per hour, before it is
boiled. With this process, sap going into
the evaporator has a much higher sugar
concentration, meaning that less time is
needed to turn the raw sap into syrup.
"Before I make any decision, espec-
ially one involving a major purchase of
equipment, I do some serious pencil
pushing," he admits. "I look at how this
piece of equipment or change in proce-
dure can benefit the business as well as
how it will affect my cash-flow over
time. Although I was among the first in
the State to purchase a reverse osmosis
machine, it has proved to be a wise
investment as it has kept fuel and labor
costs down."

Forestry Consulting
"My forestry consulting business fits
in nicely with the rest of my operation,"
Dave says. He trained as a forester,
receiving a degree in forestry from the
University of Vermont in 1970. He also
put in 2 years with the U.S. Forest
Service in Vermont in economic maple
research before starting his own
sugaring operation.

"In the beginning, I had many oppor-
tunities to set up the tubing, evaporator
systems, and other sugaring equipment
for others. As dealers became more
familiar with the equipment, the nature
of my forestry consulting work changed.
I now consult more with private land-
owners, especially advising them on
land use to meet the requirements of
State environmental and land use
"If I have clients who are interested
in developing a new sugarbush or main-
taining an existing one, I will help them
get started. However, I will only bring
them to a point where they can continue
by themselves. Why? Because we, too,
are in that business. The sugaring
season is obviously a busy time for us,
so we can't hold anyone's hand, but
there's also a possibility of conflict of
interest when it comes to marketing.
"I don't mind telling someone what
not to do, based on my own experiences.
But when it comes to telling them how
to do it, I have to protect my own
interest and theirs."

Marketing the Products
With Dave's continued success, it
comes as no surprise that he would
rather not divulge his marketing strat-
egies. He started small, and until recent
years he handled all the packing and
shipping of syrup and maple products
from his home on Butternut Mountain.
A few years ago he opened a country
store on Main Street in Johnson. His
wife, Lucy Marvin, manages the store.
There the Marvins sell many of their
own maple products, along with other
specialty food items, many maple

related and most, though not all, from
Vermont. The store also carries a
complete line of sugaring equipment.
In 1989, after several months of
planning, Dave opened a new plant in
neighboring Morrisville to pack and
ship maple syrup and other maple
products. The expansion has made it
feasible for him to go after overseas
markets, including some in Great
Britain, Japan, and West Germany.

The Future
What does the future hold for this
42-year-old entrepreneur?
"I think the key word for many
people in agriculture is to diversify.
Maple is what I know best and it works
well for us, but one thing about our
business that makes management hard
and profits unpredictable is that every
day is dictated by the season, the
weather, or the customer. Because of
this, I have considered expanding into
other types of food processing."
He is also looking to the future with
his Christmas tree farm. "Right now
we're 100-percent wholesale, but years
down the road we may make more
money in retail sales. In anticipation of
this, we have begun planting trees in
more accessible locations for a choose-
and-cut Christmas tree operation.
"Twenty years from now, develop-
ment may reach us here on Butternut
Mountain. Growth is inevitable, but to
me it represents a challenge. However, I
don't want to expand my operation for
the sake of expansion. I want to be at a
size where we can do all we do well."

Port III The Business of Agriculture

A alsplay or maple products msiae aunernut mounram rarm rore. uave sens ns proaucrs nere along wim omer proaucrs mane Dy wnosesale
buyers of his syrup and other country-style products, many from Vermont.

Topping into the Vermont Maple Business

Hildreth Morton:

Selling Herbs, Growing with the Times

A pleasant hillside with a beautiful
view: That is the first impression of
Bittersweet Hill Nurseries. The view is
what attracted its owner to the property
nearly 50 years ago. However, visitors
today come not for the view but to pur-
chase quality herbs or flowers or to
choose from among 50 varieties of water
lilies and lotus.
In 1940, Hildreth Morton and her
husband purchased 120 acres of farm-
land in rural Davidsonville, MD. While
her husband was employed off the farm,
Hildreth took on the business of farm-
ing, beginning with a small chicken
business and then venturing into hogs,
cattle, tobacco, and then flowers. Now
Bittersweet Hill boasts one of the best
known herb plant inventories in the

Starting Small
The nursery started small, graduat-
ing to larger and larger operations as
profits and demand allowed. The first
small greenhouse was built at one end
of a block building that contained the
water tank and the furnace for the
house. Hildreth sold petunias and other
annual plants from this small green-
house, using a cigar box to hold the
In the 1960's house plants were pop-
ular, so Bittersweet Hill supplied them,
stressing quality and variety. As nearby
housing developments came, the farm
built its reputation and credibility in

by Carole S. Kerr, Small Farm Owner,
Bowie, MD, and Howard W. (Bud) Kerr, Jr.,
Director, Office for Small-Scale Agriculture,
Cooperative State Research Service, USDA,
Washington, DC

"Herbs make scents and cents'" says Hildreth Morton at her business, Bittersweet Nurseries. For Morton, herbs have become a way
What most farmers regarded as a niche crop 10 years ago has quickly become a lucrative cash crop.

the community. As the money became
available, Hildreth built more buildings;
today there are three large glass
greenhouses, one plastic greenhouse,
one fiberglass Quonset hut for cooling,
and a potting shed.
During the 1980's, the popularity of
herbs increased, and they are now a
major part of the business. Although it
is primarily a retail business, Hildreth
sells some herb plants wholesale to
garden centers. She also has given herb
plants to the National Arboretum
(part of USDA's Agricultural Research
Service) in Washington, DC.

A Going, Growing Concern
The nursery, which is open every
day, is managed and staffed by women.
Customers often comment on the help-
ful and knowledgeable assistance they
get from the employees. The nursery
features seasonal additions of fall and
Christmas specialties, such as chry-
santhemums, poinsettias, and live
green wreaths.
Herbal weekends have been held
annually for several years, featuring
demonstrations, door prizes, and garden
displays with plants for sale. They are
well attended by local customers as well
as by garden and herb clubs from
neighboring States.

Part III The Business of Agriculture

Hildreth Morton working in her office, which is a desk and a
bookshelf from floor to ceiling. Her knowledge of the plants she
sells was acquired through continuous study, research, and

There is nothing glitzy about Bitter-
sweet Hill; it is a place for serious gar-
deners. In one greenhouse is a garden
and gift shop selling how-to books, a few
good tools and supplies, decorative pots,
and packets of seed varieties not usual-
ly found in drugstores. In addition to
posted prices, there are neat hand-
lettered signs giving plants' scientific
and common names, planting informa-
tion, cooking instructions, and often
history or interesting facts. A sign on a
pair of garden clippers reads, "A good
pair of clippers is hard to find. We use
these all the time."
Hildreth's trademark is the colorful
flower she always wears in her hair.
With a friendly and outgoing person-
ality, she communicates a love of her
farm and a wealth of knowledge about

the plants she sells-knowledge
acquired through continuous study,
research, and experimentation when no
help was available. Business acumen,
intuition, and common sense have kept
this operation ahead of the current
trends and have helped it survive
growing competition and changing
times. Hildreth goes on buying trips to
find new varieties, makes appearances
at community and State functions, and
attends trade association meetings and
Ten years ago, most farmers regard-
ed herbs as a niche crop, but they are
becoming a more significant crop. The
recent upsurge of interest in herbs may
result from health-conscious consumers
who choose fresh fruit and vegetables as
the basis of their diet. Herbs, fresh and
dried, add to this healthy profile.
Growing and marketing all kinds of
herbs, flowers, and ornamentals is
becoming commercially feasible for all
kinds of farmers in the 1990's.
The view from Bittersweet Hill now
includes more houses, as well as the
glistening roofs of competitors' green-
houses. Suburbia is encroaching. But
Hildreth Morton will continue to oper-
ate her farm with an eye to the future.
By offering plants of consistently high
quality and by applying her insight into
the business, she will maintain her
small farm and grow with the times.

Selling Herbs, Growing with the Times

Ellen Dolan and JoyJackson:

Exporting Value-Added Foods

"Good day from Trenton,
Missouri, U.S.A.!" So begins
another fax transmittal from
American Trade Exchange, Inc.
(AMTEX), in its quest to export
Missouri-produced food prod- ".
ucts to distant lands.
Similar messages are sent by
thousands of export businesses
throughout the United States,
but AMTEX provides a little
twist-both of the firm's prin-
cipals are women. Ellen Dolan,
Managing Director, and Joy
Jackson, Assistant Managing
Director, have been friends for
more than 18 years and part-
ners for nearly 5.
AMTEX is a trade company
born out of the depressed farm
economy of the early 1980's. In
1986 Ellen's husband, a farmer,
joined with five other business-
men from Trenton (population
7,000) to form AMTEX.
"When the farm economy
was poor and we were having
financial problems, a high
school friend suggested forming
an exporting company," Ellen
recalls. "Our friend, who is
known as a visionary, asked Ellen Dol
my husband, Gary, if he would n Do
like to be involved."
The Dolans became two of AMTEX's
original stockholders, and Ellen believes
that the firm provided them with a
healthy diversion from their financial
problems. These problems ultimately
caused them to file for bankruptcy and
changed their lives forever, although
Gary continued to farm.

by Sally Klusaritz, Public Affairs Specialist,
Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA,
Washington, DC

change, Inc., share a small-scale marketing company with global ideas.

"In some ways, I don't think you ever
get over it," Ellen says. "When you
know you didn't pay your bills, you
never get over that if you have any
conscience. But after the firm's one
salaried employee left to return to
England, Gary suggested I channel my
energies into the firm."
"I started out not knowing anything
about business," she continues. "I have
a degree in art education and I know

about oil paintings, but I didn't know
anything about business. I have a
strong artistic and creative side, but I'm
very slow when it comes to business; I
just don't think that way."
After attending an exporting trade
show with Ellen in 1987, Joy Jackson
joined AMTEX. "At the show, I fell in
love with the business," Joy recalls. "I
had been a seamstress-making

Port III The Business of Agriculture

wedding and pageant gowns-for 16
years. The detail work that goes into
wedding gowns parallels the details of
developing a shipping price for a
shipment of goods to a foreign port."

Learning Exporting Takes Time
Initially, AMTEX tried to market
agricultural products, such as fertilizer,
seeds, chemicals, and machinery. Ellen
says that business was slow, not only
because of the depressed world market
but also because the firm did not know
how to develop markets.
Staff in the Missouri Department of
Agriculture advised the company to
branch out into value-added foods.
Today AMTEX represents more than 40
companies, working to export such
products as gourmet sauces, hash
browns, meals, flours, and USDA-
graded pheasant.
"We saw the potential of value-added
products," Ellen says. "Missouri manu-
factures all kinds of products. Now
we've crept over into other States in
search of products. We met a Kansan
who manufactures his corn into a
tortilla chip product, adding a lot of
value to his commodity. That's a new
"We can't work with big companies
because they already have their distri-
bution set up and are so savvy about
what they do," she continues. "We have
to be able to give something to a com-
pany. We look for that little niche mar-
ket where people are manufacturing on
a smaller scale. We deal mainly with
cottage industries-those that have 500
employees or fewer."
They also are willing to venture
away from food items. "We had a

request from a Japanese company that
wanted to buy snack items," Ellen says.
"At the bottom of the letter was a
postscript asking for silk parachute
cord, circa World War II. So we're
looking for it."
Ellen's and Joy's day-to-day business
experiences have provided nonstop
learning opportunities. "When I first
started, the Missouri Department of
Agriculture advised me to call a com-
pany that might want to export," recalls
Ellen. "When I called, the man asked
what commission rate I charged. I
didn't know what 'commission' meant. I
know that makes me sound extremely
ignorant, but if you're not in some sort
of business, you don't know how the
business world operates."
Joy agrees. Like Dolan, she had no
business education or experience. "I've
learned that anyone can do anything
they want to do if they put their mind to
it," she says. "I studied very little busi-
ness in school. I studied foreign lan-
guages and that sort of thing. I didn't
think I'd ever be doing anything like
One of the major lessons the two
women learned is the value of net-
working. "I don't think locale inhibits
you much," says Joy. "As long as you
have a fax machine, a telephone, and a
typewriter, you can run a trading
company. I know the demand is there
for our goods; it's just getting the
connections made."
"If you're willing to learn, you can
accomplish great things," says Ellen.
"We sit on Main Street in Trenton with
this great international business
knowledge. We're doing fine. We're
learning. We're aggressive. There are so
many possibilities that we see. I know
you can starve to death on possibilities,
but they're here."

Operating in a Man's World
Both women agree that their indi-
vidual styles complement each other
and that the fact that they are both
women provides an edge in some
aspects of business.
"Ellen and I are totally different
people," says Joy. "Ellen is creative. She
has a degree in art education and the
gift of gab. I am more of the nitpicker-
the one who wants the facts. I want
things put in order. She doesn't think in
those terms. She doesn't think about
getting a quote together. She thinks in
terms of making the deal. Then I get
the quote and the freight forwarding
together. But we work well together.
Otherwise we would have killed each
other a long time ago."
Ellen agrees: "The concept of trade
and the idea that we are ambassadors
are exciting to me. But we know our
limitations; we didn't go to Harvard
Business School. But we have charm,
honesty, and a sincere appreciation for
other people's cultures. People trust us.
We work out of one 9'-by-12' office, and
we shared one desk and one phone for
many months. These are the strengths
of women-we've had to do more and
sacrifice more. The strength of the
company has been the femaleness of it."
That "femaleness" has created some
interesting situations. Many men
believe that the principals are Mr.
Jackson and Mr. Dolan, says Joy, and
some from foreign countries are espe-
cially surprised to find a woman on the
other end of the telephone.
"It took one man from Pakistan
almost 5 minutes before he would talk
to Ellen," says Joy, "because he couldn't
decide if he wanted to talk to a woman.
He had called long distance and then

Exporting Value-Added Foods

got off the phone. We could hear him
talking in the background, but he
wouldn't talk to her. He wanted to talk
to her husband-not her. He finally
came back on and said he had decided
to talk to her."
In another instance, a Saudi Arabian
buyer said that he wished the two
women would visit his country, but
there would be some drawbacks. "He
said my husband would have to come,
too, and that he couldn't speak to me
there," recalls Joy. "He can talk to me in
the United States, but not in Saudi
Arabia. He was embarrassed about
that, but that's the way it is."

Career Advice for Their Sons
As the mothers of teenage boys,
Ellen and Joy are raising the next
generation of American agriculture.
Because of their disappointing expe-
riences farming in an economically
depressed area, both have advised their
sons to think beyond careers in produc-
tion agriculture.
"Joy and I tell our kids that agri-
culture takes on many forms," says
Ellen. "AMTEX is a form of marketing
value-added goods. The knowledge
we've gained is the creative part of

agriculture. The advice I would give
young people interested in agriculture
as a career is to diversify. If they want
to be farmers, then they should also
have two other sidelines. Be flexible. Be
a jack of many trades. I think that
makes us strong and knowledgeable,
and it also makes us compassionate.
Sometimes if you know just one thing,
you're too narrowminded. Also, be
creative. I used to think I would never
use my degree in art education. Now I
know creativity in business is the key to
business survival."
Ellen and her husband have empha-
sized that their sons should study
agricultural journalism, marketing, or
economics. "We want them to study
something they can fall back on if they
decide to farm," Ellen says. "Children
need to understand that there's more
than just planting the crop in the field
or raising a pig or a cow. There's a lot of
people who don't understand the value-
added concept and how selling value-
added products helps the rural

Defining Success
The two women have given much
thought to the success of AMTEX and
their business partnership. In the fall of

1989, they exported their first full con-
tainer load-a shipment of Missouri
charcoal for a buyer in Japan. For a big
company that would be minor, Ellen
points out, but for AMTEX it was a big
"Joy and I have talked about what
success is," says Ellen. "Is it financial?
Well, financially the books are lean. It
doesn't look good. But if we've been able
to tell our four teenage boys about
potential and give them a jump on the
future, then we feel that we've been
successful. I'd like to take home $40,000
a year-we're taking home nothing at
this point-but it's hard to establish
yourself internationally. It would take
us just one good sale. It is out there. I
just hope against hope that we'll make
it. We may not. But if we don't make it
in this business, we have had 4 of the
best years of our lives."
In the meantime, the business is
growing slowly. Now when they read
their mail and fax messages, the
responses to their "Good day from Tren-
ton, Missouri, U.S.A.!" are "Good morn-
ing and a sunny day from Canada,"
"Exceedingly good day from Singapore,"
and "Good day, ladies, from Japan."

Port III The Business of Agriculture

Ray Bergin, Jr.:

Bringing Fresh Produce to Minneapolis-St. Paul

Ray Bergin, Jr., born in Minneapolis,
MN, in 1930, has just completed his
40th year in the fresh produce business
in the Twin Cities area. However, he
still has a way to go to catch up to his
grandfather Carl Bergin, who was
employed by Pacific Gamble Robinson,
a food wholesaler, for 53 years, and his
father, Ray, Sr., who at 83 still spends
mornings in his office at Bergin Fruit
Company, the family-run wholesale
produce company that handles fruits,
vegetables, and nuts.
Bergin Fruit was incorporated in
August 1951, when "Junior"-as he is
still known by everybody-joined his
parents, Vernice and Ray, Sr., to start
up the company. Loans from insurance
policies and a gift from Vernice's father,
Ed Collect, got the business off the
ground. Ray, Sr., had developed rapport
with everyone on Market Row, the old
market in downtown Minneapolis,
during his years at Pacific Gamble
Robinson; these people generously
offered business advice, which helped
the company in the rough first years.
Volume developed quickly; within
2 years the company moved to larger
facilities, and in 1958 it moved again, to
the Crown Meat warehouse on North
Sixth Street in downtown Minneapolis.
By this time, Bergin Fruit had estab-
lished itself as the only purveyor in
town selling solely to the institutional
market. Bergin Fruit also started
processing fruit and vegetables during
this period, starting with fresh sliced
apples for pies and soon following with
other processed produce items.
In 1987 Bergin Fruit created a new
company, Market Food International, to

by James N. Morris, Jr., Industrial Engineer,
and Richard K. Overheim, Marketing Specialist,
Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA,
Washington, DC

Bringing Fresh Produce to Minneapolis-St. Paul

The family business of Ray Bergin, Sr., and Ray Bergin, Jr., has been distributing fresh fruit and vegetables in northern Minnesota
for over 30 years.

serve the oriental restaurant trade, a
rapidly growing part of the Twin Cities'
institutional trade.

Helping the Produce Industry Grow
The early 1960's brought new
responsibilities. Junior, along with two
other young leaders in the Twin Cities
industry, Gene Katzmarek and Morrie

Spizman, believed that the market
needed a forum so that the industry
could have a common voice on issues
important to produce marketing. The
three merchants therefore founded the
Twin City Fruit Terminal Association in
June 1963. Membership increased
quickly, and today the association's
membership is 45 companies.

The association soon found that a
new market was essential to the
continued health of the local produce
industry, because the market at the
time was split between two sites-one
at Sixth Street and the other at the
Rock Island Railroad Terminal. Junior,
along with Gene and Morrie, helped
identify sites for the new market.

Building a New Produce Market
The need for a new market facility
was clear. Warehouses on the existing
market sites had deteriorated, and
sanitation and adequate refrigeration
were major problems. The Minneapolis
Industrial Development Commission
supported the idea of a new market,
and the cooperative efforts of the
produce industry, the City of Minne-
apolis, and USDA's wholesale market
development program made the new
market possible.
After 14 years of planning, the
Kasota Fruit Terminal opened for
business in May 1977, with private
funds from the local produce industry
and public funds from the City of
Minneapolis. The old market sites were
replaced by highways and the Hubert
H. Humphrey Metrodome.
The new market was an instant hit.
Kasota became a first-class produce
market, serving as home base for inde-
pendent fruit and vegetable companies
serving customers over a five-State area
and Canada. Employment in the mar-
ket has doubled since opening, and
business has increased about 600 per-
cent from opening day. About $200
million in produce moves through the
market each year. Increases in the local

wnen warenousing an market trocimes aeteroratea, private and public tunds were used to bi
Bergin Fruit and other fruit and vegetable companies distribute their produce.

tax base from Kasota's growth have
more than returned city funds contri-
buted to the project.

A Family Business
Bergin Fruit Company is a family
business. It has three divisions, with
Junior heading produce sales, his
brother Tom handling processing, and
his brother John running the nut
section. Seven of the company's 80
employees are members of the Bergin
family, including Junior's son Pete, the
operational manager, and his daughter
Paula, the comptroller.
One of the hazards of the produce
business is becoming too involved with

business to have time for the family.
Junior and Grace, his wife of 37 years,
work hard, but they also play hard.
They and their four children, who have
all graduated from college, participate
in such activities as racquetball, bad-
minton, tennis, golf, swimming, yacht
racing, and downhill and cross-country
skiing. The Bergins travel extensively
when time permits. Junior is on the
Board of Directors of the Metropolitan
Medical Center, he has coached the
local youth soccer program, and he has
served as a committee member with the
United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable

Port III The Business of Agriculture

Joseph M. Stewart:

An 1890's Success Story

Joseph M. Stewart beat the odds.
He was born in Louisiana in 1942
and grew up in a rural area. His par-
ents had little schooling, they earned a
mere $35 a week, and nine people lived
in the family's three-bedroom house.
Today, Joseph is the senior vice presi-
dent for corporate affairs at the Kellogg
Company and a highly respected
member of his profession and commun-
ity. He is proof to young people that,
despite great odds, they too can be
successful. But success did not happen
overnight; it required years of dedica-
tion and hard work.

Early Years
Joseph attended Southern Univer-
sity, the 1890 Land Grant institution in
Louisiana, where he studied food and
nutrition. After his graduation in 1965,
he spent 6 years working his way up
through the ranks of the food service
industry. His experience included
positions at Alabama State College,
Tennessee State University, and
Howard University in Washington, DC.
In 1971, Joseph was appointed
director of food services for the public
school system and director for child
nutrition programs for the District of
Columbia. Three years later, he was
awarded the Silver Plate Award for
having the best school feeding program
in the United States. In 1975 he was
appointed to the Federal Energy
Administration's Food Industry
Advisory Council.

by Tom Willis, USDA Extension Service,
Washington, DC

Joseph Stewart, a senior vice-president of the Kellogg Company, knows that success does not happen overnight; it requires dedication
and years of hard work.

An 1890's Success Story

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