Get Back to Being a Farmer

When I was nine years old, a special visitor came to my elementary school.

The man, in his early 60s, sat on a cracked stool and fixed his eyes across the room full of students. His tired eyes shined from behind a sun-scorched face. He’d just made a long drive up from Cecil County, a rural portion of the Maryland that hugged the north end of the Chesapeake Bay.

Ashley, a student in my class whose face I can recall but last name I cannot, held his hand and introduced him. “This is my grandfather,” she said. “He’s a farmer.”

The class didn’t react with much enthusiasm to this announcement. We had just spoken to another man, who had told the class of his career as a television announcer. The children hooted and hollered whenever this other gentleman spoke about all the famous people he had interviewed and the places he had traveled.

Ashley’s grandfather, however, had lived in a small town between Wilmington, Delaware and Baltimore, Maryland his entire life. Visiting from 60 miles away, he now answered questions during Grandparents’ Day about his life and career.

He told us that his family owned the farm and how he harvested corn and soybeans, but the class seemed more interested in the animals roaming the farms.

I didn’t realize it at the time.

But this man was so much more than a farmer.

He had responsibilities that transcended one simple job title.

I wonder if the kids in the other class know now what we didn’t know back then.

The Humblest Job Title in the World

One of the things I learned early on in life was the importance of humility. My father had worked as an executive of McCormick & Co. – a massive spice conglomerate that stretched around the globe. When I asked him what he did for a living as a child, he said that he was “a pepper salesman.”

The grandfather in that classroom 30 years ago may have said he was a “farmer.”

But he really had nearly a dozen roles back home.

He was an accountant, an economist, a meteorologist, a credit analyst, a quality control expert, a negotiator, a salesman, a logistics expert, a veterinarian, and an agronomist.

Today’s farmers take on – and not by choice – those same challenges and more.

Having met so many people in the industry over the last decade, I hear the same frustrations.

The best part of working on a farm is the time working in the field. The smell, the sounds, the peace. The early morning and its chill that accompanies  sounds stretching across miles of open land. In the evening, the sun setting, the birds flying overhead. Those are the parts of the job so many people would do for free.

The frustrations are that today’s industry continues to pull farmers away from their fields.

Today’s farmers have more roles and challenges than ever before.

  • You’re expected to be a credit analyst, someone who must vet your buyers to decide if they’re trustworthy. Every farmer has one story of a buyer who has left a bad taste in their mouths, so they’re putting more time than ever to understand who their dealing with, most of the time without complete information.
  • You’re expected to be a meteorologist. And what an imperfect science that has been in 2017. Despite the local television station’s spending on new equipment to determine the weather… how many times have you braced for a good rain only to receive a trickle… or worse found yourself caught in a surprise hailstorm without warning?
  • If you want the best price, you’re going to have to be a great negotiator and an expert on the quality of your grain. And if – and it’s a big if – you have all the time in the world to call around to buyers, you’re going to need to have that economist background to know when is the right time to sell, and when is the right time to hedge.
  • Then, once the harvest is collected, you might find yourself operating trucks. Some people lose entire days driving grains to the nearest elevator, only to lose more time waiting.

Your grain might be the commodity that keeps the lights on, but the most important commodity you have is time.

And no matter what anyone says, there isn’t enough of it to get back to the best part of the job.

All of these roles have steep opportunity costs and long hours.

It’s time to change this.

It’s time to get back to being a farmer.

It’s Time to Join FarmLead

Helping farmers save time, make more money, and make their farms more efficient is the reason that the team of FarmLead gets out of bed each morning.

FarmLead is an online grain marketplace that makes it easier to sell your grain in one place and remove many of the hassles that you face on a day-to-day basis.

With FarmLead, you don’t have to be on the phone calling around to elevators, digging through USDA basis reports, or digging through local cash bids.

You can post your grain and specifications to the online marketplace in just minutes. Doing so gives you access to thousands of buyers across the platform in literally dozens of commodity categories. Whether it’s convention corn or feed wheat or non-GMO soybeans, you can negotiate it on FarmLead.

All of our buyers have been financially vetted, meaning that you don’t have to play the role of credit analyst anymore. One hundred percent of our deals have been completed, and farmers walk away with an average of 5% to 6% more for their grain than other bids they’re getting.

But that’s just one of the many benefits that go into this solution to save time, increase your sales price, and get you back to doing what matters most to you.

You can even park your trucks.  With many of the deals on FarmLead, you don’t have to drive your grain 100 miles. Roughly 80% of the deals done on FarmLead are FOB farm or on-farm pick-up where buyers are responsible for arranging transporation. (Of course, if you’re looking to make some extra money to transport your grain, a  delivered option is open to negotiation  as well.)

Best of all: You don’t have to pay a dime to register, post, or negotiate your grain offer on FarmLead’s online marketplace.

It’s free to post your grain online.

This is the only service I can think of that is free for farmers to use and make more money without having to purchase a new tractor or the latest piece of agricultural technology.

When you complete your sale, you’ll pay a small connection fee to FarmLead.

How much? On average, it’s usually less than 1 cent per bushel (or  significantly less than what you’d pay a broker).

Of course, you likely have questions. Our customer support team is available to answer all of them at any time. Or you can learn more about us at Again, it’s completely free to post your grain.

Get back to being a farmer, and spend less time working in the office.

You grow the grain. We’ll help you manage the rest.

About the Author
Garrett Baldwin

Garrett Baldwin is a content strategist and editor at FarmLead. He covers the global grain markets and public policy issues related to the agricultural industry. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Economic Policy from The Johns Hopkins University, an MS in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, and an MBA in Finance from Indiana University.

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