Growing our Generation: Family, farm, future

Kyle Smith is the editor of the Dec. 19 Growing our Generation enewsletter, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.

My name is Kyle Smith, and I am a 4th generation farmer on our family farm in Clark County. My wife Amber and I are welcomed our first child, Weston, in September, and we are excited to be able to raise him on the farm. We grow corn, soybeans, and wheat in Clark and Champaign Counties, where we farm alongside my parents Mike and Nikki.

Amber works as a Physical Therapy Assistant at Wright State Physicians, helps me with the farm, and still helps out with her home county (Fayette) fair sales each summer.

When I’m not in the fields, I also own and operate Kyle Smith Crop Insurance, where I write policies through RCIS, and co-own KC Fencing Unlimited LLC, an agricultural, commercial, and residential fencing company that also owns the Dogwatch of Dayton hidden fence dealership. Whether I’m running a combine during harvest on our farm, walking a pasture with a fence client, or discussing a marketing strategy as it relates to risk management with a crop insurance client, I’m constantly, and intentionally, involved in agriculture.

Use your data

If you’re like me, you dread this time of year. The weather rares up and fights back, forcing us inside to do what we probably should have been doing all year – bookwork.

With crop prices trending lower, it is more important than ever to micromanage our farms. On our farm we used to collect vast amounts of data all year long from our farming activities, and then, at the end of the year, do nothing with it.

I recently decided that we needed to utilize the information we already collect, and get it all put together in a manageable form. We drilled down every possible cost associated with every management decision we make coupled with our crop insurance APH databases; the end result? A breakeven price per bushel. This information is paramount to understanding, creating, and following through with a marketing plan. You’re probably already bored, because it isn’t fun, it isn’t sexy, but in these lean times it might just be the difference between staying in business, or not. There are several data management software companies to consider, or just use a good old fashioned Excel file.

Get involved

I spent eight years on the Clark County Farm Bureau board, serving  two years as vice president, and most recently, two years as president. I’ve served on various committees, at both the county and state level, and have participated in many great programs with Farm Bureau. I was fortunate to have learned early in my Farm Bureau involvement just how important our organization is to farmers of all types. One of my first Farm Bureau trips was a YAP Leadership Experience to Washington, D.C. It was there that I realized how hard Farm Bureau was working to preserve and promote my way of life. I knew then, I had to stay involved.

I recently termed off my county board. However, after a lot of thought and prayer, I decided to run for the state board. A couple weeks ago, I was elected Southwest Region Trustee at the OFBF Annual Meeting in Columbus. I am excited to be engaged, and to help promote the industry that has meant so much to me, my family, and friends. I look forward to helping guide our organization into the next chapter, while keeping our foundation strong.

If you’re reading this wondering, “What does Farm Bureau do for me?” The truth is, much of what Farm Bureau does for farmers and landowners isn’t something you can always see, touch, or feel. It happens through legislative action or in closed meetings at our Statehouse and Capitol Hill. It happens when members call the state office with concerns and receive legal advice from our outstanding staff attorneys. It happens through lobbying trips to Washington, D.C, Ag Day at the Capital, and screenings for Friends of Agriculture designations. It happens when Farm Bureau goes to bat for us against the Department of Taxation to get further improvements to CAUV which saves farmers and landowners money. It happens through proactive measures such as helping to write S.B. 150, which provided a plan of action for nutrient application before it was written for us by groups that don’t hold agriculture’s interest. It happens through outreach programs like our Clark County Farm Day, held in coalition with the United Way, to educate Springfield City Schools 2nd and 3rd graders on plants, animals, and where their food comes from. It happens through Grow and Know events held all over the state which reach out to suburban and metro members with farm tours, food tastings, and tips on gardening and canning techniques.

It happens in a lot of ways that aren’t always obvious, but I can tell you from experience, Farm Bureau is fighting for us. All of this is made possible through your membership dues, and for that we are thankful.

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This e-newsletter is brought to you by Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Ag Professionals. Learn more about Farm Bureau membership, including a discounted category for those 18-24 years old.