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10 Successful Farmers in 2017

In the Successful Farming magazine June/July issue, we featured two groups of farmers who think differently and act accordingly: 10 Successful Farmers and 10 Up & Comers in Agriculture.

For the 10 Successful Farmers, we didn’t use a formula to prove their success; we didn’t have a scorecard to determine who made the list or who didn’t. We chose these 10 farmers because they’re innovators who are making a difference in the industry, starting with their own operations.

Many of these farmers’ stories are grounded in harsh life experiences, such as the hog producer who lost a child in an accident but poured all of his energy into the family farm – a form of therapy for him and his grieving family.

Look closely at the faces of all 10 farmers. That’s where you’ll see their life experiences reflected. Click on the links below to read the full story on each farmer.

Joe Breker: Lifetime of Conservation Discovery

Havana, North Dakota

“My favorite part of farming is watching stuff grow, and cover crops give more chances for that. It’s kind of cool to have our neighbors stop in the fall and ask if they can pick a few of our Jackhammer radishes.” Read Breker's story.

Bryan Jorgensen: Mimicking Native Prairie Keys Soils for Land and Cattle

Ideal, South Dakota

“Those native prairie soils will teach you more about what Mother Nature does than any symposium, any soils professor, any university. You can learn so much from them.” Read Jorgensen's story.

Dave Legvold: Preaching Restorative Farming

Northfield, Minnesota

“It’s about taking care of soil and water. We’re going to have to feed a lot more people with the resources we have now.” Read Legvold's story.

Lance Rezac: Specialization Allows Brothers to Grow Farming Operation

Onaga, Kansas

“Our respective children have interests similiar to ours. Russell and Matt like to work with cattle like their father does. My children have a big interest in crop farming. That is a strength for the operation to build on for the future.” Read Rezac's story.

Jeff Brown: Growing a Successful Crop Means You Must Also Grow

Blue Mound, Illinois

“I still strive for high yields, but the best way to be sustainable is to produce the most per acre while not being crazy. The number one way to cut costs is to increase yields. It has been my focus the past few years as margins get tighter.” Read Brown's story.

Dale Reicks: Tragedy Turns to Growth for Pork Producer

Calmar, Iowa

“Part of my grieving process was to go to work. The farm wasn’t that large at the time. Concentrating on growing the business is what saved me.” Read Reicks' story.

Doug Martin: Hunting for Farming Opportunities

Mt. Pulaski, Illinois

“We pay attention to what we are doing and remembering the reason we are out here farming. Not too many people have the opportunity to do what we do. While it’s a challenge to be successful, it’s an enjoyable challenge.” Read Martin's story.

Anne Whitman Ongstad: Always Innovating to Transform the Operation

Robinson, North Dakota

“There are innovators – people who try things first – and then there are early adopters. I would consider myself to be an early adopter.” Read Ongstad's story.

John Schwartz: Putting Family First

Sleepy Eye, Minnesota

“It’s been an interesting ride. We are proud of our legacy and remain confident in the future.” Read Schwartz's story. 

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