Many kids who grow up on a family farm dream of one day making it their career. Too often, families find that the farm is not big enough to sustain the addition of another generation. This was the case for Kyle Horn of Huron County, but he knew there was nothing he wanted to do more than farm and found a way to get back to it.
After spending some time as an industrial electrician, Kyle has returned to agriculture and is now a vital part of the next generation to work on his family’s farm. His dedication and passion for the industry has earned him the honor of being a Beck’s Young Farm Leader – a program that celebrates young farmers who are getting involved in the industry and their communities.
“We like to encourage young farmers to get involved and become the next generation of leaders. Agriculture is a vital industry and these young farmers are essential to a bright future,” said Bruce Kettler, Director of Public Relations at Beck’s Hybrids.
Kyle has been working full-time in agriculture for the last six years as a seed salesman and as part of the farming operation with his dad, uncles and cousin producing corn and soybeans and raising a small herd of cattle.
“Ultimately, I always knew I wanted to end up on the farm, but we have the same problem I think a lot of farmers in America have and that’s a larger family without a large enough acreage base. That makes the transition for the next generation difficult,” said Kyle. “Out of high school, I was an electrician until I got the opportunity to come back to the farm and sell seed. When it’s part of who you are, it’s in your blood. I’ve always wanted to be here, so I used those routes to make it happen.”
Kyle and his family diligently manage the inputs for their operation by utilizing soil sampling, strip banding fertilizer and selecting the right seed for their farm because they are near Lake Erie and want to do their part to protect water quality. Additionally, commodity prices are down and input prices are up meaning a slim profit margin. They understand what they do impacts the future of the industry.
Looking at industry trends, Kyle believes specialty markets that offer a premium on commodities are going to continue to grow as farmers look for ways to offset costs and maintain profits.
“We grow soybeans for seed, the benefit is the premium. Any premium-based market right now is going to have a weight on producer’s decisions. Whether it’s non-GMO, high-oleic or seed production; whether it’s a 50 cent or a two dollar premium; those premiums hold a higher weight with eight dollar soybeans then they did with 15 dollar soybeans,” said Kyle.
Other factors Kyle looks at in seed variety are available seed treatments and built-in resistance. Preventing soybean cyst nematode is a top priority, along with sudden death and phytophthora rot.
“I will not plant a soybean that does not have cyst nematode resistance,” said Kyle. “Seed treatment has become a huge player in our area, too, Poncho/Votivo and IleVO are great tools. New technologies are useful, but we need to be careful. I think as a group we have to be diligent, there are some wonderful new tools coming and we need to make those last longer for future generations.”
Kyle is also hopeful the future generations will include his three children, who occupy his time off the farm with school activities, sports and 4-H. While the demands of farming deter him from being a head coach, he takes an active role in their activities when possible and recently agreed to be a 4-H advisor – following in the steps of his grandfather who spent 69 years involved in the 4-H program.
“I’m here for the long haul; I have three children, I grew up here and my wife’s from the area. We want to raise our children here, and if we don’t participate in our community and try to make it as good as possible I don’t know who will,” said Kyle. “I think growing up on a farm was vital to who I am, it’s taught me work ethic, it’s taught me nothing is given to you, you go out and earn it; I want to teach my children that same lesson.”
“We are happy to have Kyle in our industry and pleased to see him honored as a Beck’s Young Farm Leader,” said Adam Graham, OSA president and soybean farmer from Logan County. “He not only understands the challenges of farming today, but is looking ahead to the challenges we are creating for tomorrow’s farmers. We enjoy honoring young people in agriculture and encourage more farmers to nominate themselves or someone they know for the Beck’s Young Farm Leader program.”