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First-generation farmer

Justin Davey 07/28/2011 @ 1:17pm

Farming isn't necessarily in his family blood, but that didn't stop Tyler Hedge from pursuing the career. “I'm a first-generation farmer,” the 23-year-old from Crawfordsville, Indiana, says proudly. “My dad and granddad didn't farm.”

With the range of potential obstacles facing young and beginning farmers today – including land acquisition, machinery purchases, and financing struggles – the prospect of striking out on your own seems daunting. Nothing captures the entrepreneurial spirit of farmers more.

Hedge did have some prior farming experience, which solidified his desire to pursue the career full time. He's worked on farms since the age of 13. “I grew a little hay with a neighbor,” he says.

Given the challenges involved, “I didn't think I would have a future in farming,” Hedge says. So playing it safe, he attended Indiana State University and received a degree in construction management.

To his surprise, however, farming is working out. “As far as getting started, everything worked out perfectly,” Hedge says. “A couple of farmers were retiring when I was wanting to get into it.” He started selling Pioneer seed with his farming partner, David Davidson, and began acquiring land.

Davidson farmed 200 acres with a landlord but arranged for Hedge to work 20 acres. “Another 24 acres are owned by a friend's family and were previously farmed by a good friend and seed customer,” Hedge says. “He passed away last March; the family rented it to me. I pay market rate, but seven other people tried to rent it before I called. They declined all other offers.”

Over the past few years, the operation has seen quality growth. “Three years ago, we farmed 900 acres and used wagons. Today, we farm 1,400 acres of corn, soybeans, and hay, and use semitrailer trucks,” Hedge says. Looking forward, he plans to start a cow-calf operation and a small custom hay business.


Getting More Rental Ground

Farmers For The Future member Noah Jacobson of Lincoln, Nebraska, asks for ways to acquire more rental ground. Read other members' tips and share a few of your own at farmersforthefuture.com/rent.

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