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Taking the plunge

On September 11, 2001, John Hutto stopped at a farm supply store in Galena, Kansas, on his way to work. An employee motioned him over. "Look at this," he said, pointing to a small television behind the cash register. John saw a plane flying into the World Trade Center. "We stood and watched the TV for awhile, and then I had to leave to go to work," says John. "It was the longest day of my life."

John's wife, Kenna, was delivering corn to the elevator and saw lines at the gas station begin to form. She turned on the radio and learned why.

As it did for so many others, that day changed their lives.

For 18 years, John and Kenna Hutto had been struggling to build up their farm near Galena as John worked full time as a delivery man for a local freight company. By September 11, they were farming 800 acres with 200 cattle and 1,500 hogs on feed. "It got to be more than we could do with my job," says John.

The terrorist attacks affected the freight business immediately, and 9/11 was John's last day on the job. "My boss knew I wanted to farm and asked me if I would leave since he had to lay people off," he says.

"It was a weight off my shoulders. We knew I had to get out, but we depended on the paycheck and benefits. We'd been praying about it and God had been putting together some farming opportunities. All that coincided with 9/11 and made it obvious."

On September 11, 2001, John Hutto stopped at a farm supply store in Galena, Kansas, on his way to work. An employee motioned him over. "Look at this," he said, pointing to a small television behind the cash register. John saw a plane flying into the World Trade Center. "We stood and watched the TV for awhile, and then I had to leave to go to work," says John. "It was the longest day of my life."

With both John and Kenna full time on the farm, the Huttos have built up their operation to 2,000 acres of corn, wheat, milo, soybeans, and edible beans. They feed 500 stocker cattle and 4,000 hogs a year.

One thing John and Kenna could do without is government farm payments. "They are a de facto tool of established farmers," says John. "They are not designed to keep out beginning farmers, but that's what happens. Big farmers get a couple hundred thousand dollars in payments, and they use it to outbid smaller farmers on land."

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