Mercer County Farm Bureau Spotlight Member is board member Mark Houts. Mark and his wife, Michelle, have a grain and livestock farm near Rockford, Ohio.
Farming is the family business and after graduation from The Ohio State Universiy where he studied agricultural economics, Mark returned to the family farm and worked alongside his father as a part of the Houts Partnership. That partnership has now grown to include his son Seth who joined him after Mark’s father retired.
Mark became involved with the Mercer County Farm Bureau when he was placed on a committee several years ago. His parents had been involved with Farm Bureau and he felt like it was important to be involved. “There aren’t too many organizations that represent farmers that are involved with livestock and grain farming. It is a good resource for people with questions and concerns about different topics.”
As agriculture moves forward, Mark believes that trying to educate the public about what producers do will be paramount to our success. “We need to try and help the public understand what farmers are doing, and the reasons behind them. Because with misunderstanding, there is only an ever-growing divide about where our food comes from.” Bridging this gap is a cause that his family takes very seriously. Michelle, Mark’s wife, is a writer of both children and adult literature and for many years worked as both a writer and teacher, then took the plunge this year and is writing full time.
Her first children’s book published several years ago was called the “Beef Princess of Practical County,” a novel about her daughters showing and raising their steers for 4-H. The book went on to be a great tool for the Farm Bureau Agriculture Literature projects that tells the accurate story of raising animals and living on a farm today. Since that first book, Michelle has published several other books for both children and adults.
As the Houts look into agriculture’s future, they see the industry becoming more and more influenced by technology and data. They also offer advice to younger farmers: “Buy land when you have the chance. You can always buy a new truck or piece of equipment, but when an opportunity for a piece of land comes up, you may not have that chance to buy it again.”
The Houts enjoy farming because, in their opinion, “It is the most rewarding job. Farming is a fun way to make a living. It’s an awesome lifestyle and a great way to raise a family.”