Erik and Amy Hamilton from Highland County are the editors of the Jan. 28, 2019 Growing our Generation, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.
Hello. We are Erik and Amy Hamilton of Hillsboro in Highland County. We own and operate Hamilton Cattle with our young daughter, Kennedy. We currently own 94 acres of hay and pasture and rent an additional 50 acres nearby. Hamilton Cattle currently runs 37 head of cows with a breeding focus on club calves and breeding stock. Offering club calves and breeding stock is a newer venture for our farm and we are working to expand this portion of the operation for the future. In addition to Hamilton Cattle we both work off the farm full time: Erik is a highway worker for our county engineer and Amy as a commercial/ag loan officer at First State Bank. Amy is very active in Farm Bureau and the agricultural community serving as a county trustee for seven years, as secretary of the board, has been a county delegate, participated in YAP events, and chairs the Ladies Night Out event. She is also in the final months of completing the AgriPOWER Leadership Institute.
No one says farming is easy and starting an operation from the ground up is even harder. We both come from farming backgrounds; Erik grew up on his grandparents cattle and tobacco farm and Amy grew up on her family’s dairy and grain farm. After we married in 2014, we quickly began looking for a farm to settle down on. We knew we didn’t want to live or raise our future family anywhere but a farm. Erik already owned a small herd of 12 cows and rented various pastures, barn space and hay fields. So in 2015 while talking to some friends about locating some additional pasture space, the conversation turned to “we might know of a farm for sale.” We immediately began talking to the owners and we were in love; it was our dream farm! We had found a working cattle farm with fenced pastures, livestock barns and a large hay/equipment barn. Our excitement quickly faded when we started to discuss purchase price. We sadly told the owners the price was more than we could afford. A few months went by and we found ourselves still talking about how perfect this farm was for us. That’s when we decided we had to make the farm ours. We sold everything we didn’t need to have for the farm to come up with the down-payment money. My parents also offered to help us out by allowing us borrow their equipment when needed. So we sold almost everything we owned, (everything except the cows) and we bought our dream farm in late 2015. More than three years later we still haven’t been able to replace Erik’s beloved truck he sold, but we hope to get there sooner or later. Some days we are still not sure how we managed to do it, but everyday we are thankful that we did!
I have been a lender in the banking industry for more than 10 years now and worked exclusively in commercial and agricultural lending for four years. Agriculture is my passion, but each year it seems to get tougher to be an ag lender and we may not have seen our worst year yet. Trust me; your ag lender watches the markets and knows what’s going on in the industry. So make sure the lines of communication are open between you and your lender. Looking to renew your operating line of credit with last year’s crops still in the field or sold in the 2019 calendar year doesn’t make for strong financial statement. So start scheduling an appointment to talk with him or her now and be prepared with an accurately completed balance sheet. It’s our job as ag lenders to help you and your farming operation succeed, and it’s also in our best interest you do.
Through my years of involvement with Farm Bureau, I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing individuals and farm families from across the state and a common characteristic I find in everyone I meet is their passion for telling their farm story! They make a point to share their experiences and make sure their agriculture message is heard, weather just sharing that story in Ohio or with a congressman in Washington, D.C. As young ag professionals, we need to keep this theme going. While participating in AgriPOWER, I have learned how I can continue to tell my agricultural story and the importance of sharing it. With so much negative light the agricultural industry receives in various media forms it is our responsibility as the next generation of farmers to share our stories, open up our farms to others and help shine a positive light on this great industry we all love and work so hard to grow. So be sure to share your farm story every chance you get! At Hamilton Cattle we continue to share our story with the public through our farm Facebook page. Thank you for reading our edition of Growing Our Generation!