15 minutes with Georgia farmer, Andrew Moore
In the mid-2000s, Andrew Moore; his father, Joe; and his uncle, Tim, took a hard look at their farm near Resaca in northwestern Georgia.
“We knew that a corn, wheat, and soybean rotation was not going to be the future for us,” says Moore, “and we had to add something else to our operation.”
The Moores entered the edible oils business by adding winter canola and high-oleic sunflowers to their crop rotation. They processed the crops’ edible oils with an Anderson expeller press starting in 2006. By 2008, they were processing 50 tons of oilseeds daily.
“What we quickly discovered was that the demand for edible oils was great, but the market was limited for the type of protein we produced,” says Moore.
A more lucrative market loomed literally in their backyard. “We realized that the feed industry is huge in Georgia, and that we could supply proteins and fats to that industry,” he says.
They added barley, oats, and grain sorghum to their crop mix and formed Resaca Sun Feeds, LLC, in 2011.
It wasn’t easy. “We discovered that the majority of our customers were not ready to pay for a product that was high in nutritional content and high in value,” he says. “They wanted something that cost less. It was hard to do that using the ingredients we grew on our farm.”
What they did notice is that customers were asking questions about crops that were not genetically modified. They began growing all non-GMO grains and oilseeds in 2014. This expanded their markets, as they now can ship product to both non-GMO and GMO customers by eliminating comingling concerns between the two.
“We live in an area that is heavy in poultry and beef production, so there is demand [for the crops],” he says.
SF: What kind of challenges existed in revising your farm’s crop rotation?
AM: The South is so different from other parts of the country because there are so many crops we can plant. We will find someone who’s had experience growing them and also talk to crop consultants. We’ve had successes; we’ve had failures. There are times when we say this is the best crop of barley we’ve ever grown. The next year, we may only harvest a 30-bushel (per acre) crop.
SF: Sustainability is now a buzzword. What type of sustainable practices has your family put on its farm?
AM: We plant cosaque black oats as a cover crop where we have also had a legume before our corn crop. We will come in and desiccate, roll, and then no-till into that corn. We are always looking to grow something year-round if we can and increase soil health. It’s still new for us, but we are learning the process.
I also sit on the board of the American Soybean Association and was in a meeting where the topic of carbon markets came up. We’re already working with people who are doing a lot with regenerative agriculture. Capturing carbon is getting to be a really big industry, so it was easy for me to navigate into it and be involved in this.
I’m not going to get in an argument whether or not there’s climate change. I am saying that this area is going to grow in the next five to 10 years, and we in agriculture need to be there to help direct this change.
SF: What's now your biggest challenge as a farmer?
AM: Trade issues have been our biggest challenges. Production wise, I think dealing with pests like the soybean cyst nematode is a big one. Through efforts by the Soybean Cyst Nematode Coalition, we have been finding ways to better manage it.
SF: Did you face any labor issues in growing the feed business?
AM: We are fortunate to have men and women who have been with us a long time. Employees are important to us. We would never ask an employee to do something that we're not willing to do ourselves.
The biggest challenge I think that we face now is hiring people who are qualified and skilled to work in agriculture.
SF: What’s the best thing about farming?
AM: I am fortunate to be working with my dad, uncle, grandmother, my mom, and our employees every day. It is also an incredible process to see what we grow used to make a feed that goes to poultry and swine producers, who then make a nutritious product that ends up on dinner tables.
SF: Who is your family?
AM: My wife, Savannah, and I became foster parents to two boys – Jacob (now 10) and Joseph (now 7) in 2015. In 2017, we adopted them. God has been generous to us with these two boys, whom we love and care for deeply. It has been an overwhelming experience for us.
Andrew Moore taught for several years after he received a bachelor in arts degree in music and psychology from Mercer University in Georgia. His wife, Savannah, is an attorney, and they have two sons, Jacob and Joseph.
“April is a really busy month for us,” he says. “We are planting corn, soybeans, and sunflowers, all the while coaching my son’s baseball team and going to swim and track meets.”