Farming is a family affair; in fact, nearly 99% of U.S. farms are family farms. And those families work 90% of the land and are responsible for 89% of farm production, according to USDA. The soy checkoff’s farmer-leaders walk that farmland every day.
The United Soybean Board’s 73 farmer-leaders come from all types of farms — from varying generations to commodities grown and animals raised, geography and more. But they all have one thing in common: their passion for farming and the families behind them.
Taking the First Steps
Many farms also include first-generation farmers — more than 20%, according to Farm Bureau Fast Facts About Agriculture, just like Tom Griffiths of Indiana and John Harrell of Pennsylvania. Yet their passion for farming agriculture is not new, but rather instilled in them by their families.
Although Griffiths grew up on a family farm, the family sold the operation before he was an adult. Griffiths thinks there is no better place to raise a family than on a farm. Because of this, Griffiths and his wife, Kim, decided that when they were going to have children, they would not raise them in town. Griffiths bought his first farm around the time his son Glen was born.
“There’s a big difference between being a first-generation farmer and a successful first-generation farmer,” says Griffiths. “It is about profitability and sustainability. If you’re not profitable and sustainable, you’re not in this business for very long.”