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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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