Fighter to Farmer
The first winner of this year’s Successful Farming fighter-to-farmer contest is Steve Conrad, who is the 8th generation to farm his family’s land in West Virginia. His great-grandfather fought in the Civil War, and Steve flew fighter jets in Vietnam. When he retired from the Navy, Steve returned to the family farm, and assisted in starting a local poultry co-op after a poultry company closed up shop and left over 100 producers in the lurch.
"Nobody probably gave us much chance of success, but we had a couple things going for us. One is that the guy that was in charge of it was like a bulldog and he wouldn’t give up," says Conrad. "We got investment, we raised money from the surrounding community. We put our first birds on the ground in July, and sold the first birds the 29th of November. The first month we made $500,000."
Our second fighter to farmer winner is Chase Crawford of Sherburn, Minnesota, who was in the National Guard and fought in the Middle East. After nine-years serving in the Guard, Chase decided it was time to focus on the farm.
"Farming and military stuff doesn’t go hand-in-hand very well. So, I decided if I was going to farm, then I should probably get out of the military. I loved the military," says Crawford. "My father-in-law helped a lot, but I utilized my nights quite a bit. It’s torture on a nice October day and you’re sitting at the armory looking out the door when corn’s about 17% or 16% and ready to go."
Chase stays involved with military veterans. He’s the commander of the local Legion.
Read our Fighter to Farmer winners' full stories here