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Prairie Partners

Seven years ago, after a long, hot day of moving irrigation systems, Brad and Monica Anderson ducked into the office in their farm shop to get a drink of water and to cool off.

At the time, the St. Cloud, Minnesota, farmers were growing kidney beans, snap beans, potatoes for the fresh market, and some row crops. As Monica paged through a farm magazine, she spotted an ad for a section of tillable land to the southwest.

"We should call and find out about it," she told Brad. He was skeptical. She called, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, the Andersons farm 150 miles from St. Cloud, near Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Their move began in 2003 and extended over two crop years.

"It wasn't easy, but we were close enough to move in stages," Brad says."There was a lot of risk, but we did our homework."

They grow corn, soybeans, and seed beans. "Farming and soil types are totally different here," Brad says. "We wanted to buy good-quality land that would pay off in the long run."

Their timing was right. "Land values have tripled since we moved," he says.

Decisions Are Made Jointly

Married in 1999, the couple has six grown children, as well as an 8-year-old son, Ben.

The couple divvy up their roles. Brad handles their seed, fertilizer, and chemical purchases. Monica often does fieldwork. "I run the grain cart, do some fall tillage, and all the spring tillage," she says. "And I can run the semis."

Monica also takes care of financial records and loans. "The last few years, I've been doing the balance sheet," she says.

All In The Family

The Andersons farm with Monica's son, John Beck, and his wife, Shannon. John takes charge of maintenance and has a semi for custom hauling for ADM. He trucks for them in the fall and hauls their grain in the summer. He also rents other land.

Monica's son, Jerry Beck, an agronomist at CHS, Inc., works with the Andersons whenever possible.

Although each person has distinct farm and business roles, Monica says, "All of our decisions are made together."

The Andersons have two semis. They recently decided to buy a semi with autoshift. "When I'm tired after a long day of harvest, it's nice not to think about shift patterns," she says.

They also recently switched to Caterpillar and now own two tractors. "The track machines work well in our heavy soils here," Brad says.

"I've fallen in love with the track machines," Monica says.

The Andersons evaluate storage annually. Their farm originally had one bin.

They've added four bins since their move.

"We don't have enough storage, and we made a call before we finished harvest to add a bin and grain leg," Brad says. "The basis has been terrible here, and waiting at the elevator takes a lot of time."

They stored 15,000 bushels in a grain bag last fall. "It's our first jump into it," Monica says.

The move to Walnut Grove, with its less intense crop rotation, allows for more community involvement. Brad serves on the township board, and Monica was on the founding board of directors for the ethanol plant 16 miles away in Lamberton.

"We love what we do," Monica says. "We're never bored."

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