In Davon's introduction to this month's Dispatch, she aptly pointed out our team's privilege of interacting with the best and brightest next generation farm families across the U.S. Here is a story about a heartland family.
The Lucas family, from Johnson, Kansas, farms 16,000 acres of corn, wheat and sorghum in the southwest corner of the state. They also own a Pioneer Hybrid dealership. Surviving in western Kansas as a 4th generation farm as required more than just grit. The Lucas' have been strategiv in their approach. Carson and Colby Lucas, brothers, both earned college degrees and held jobs away from the farm. Their brother, Calen, resides in California and serves as an advisor using his off-farm experience to address new challenges faced at the farm.
After teaching English in South Korea and working several corporate job, Carson knew he was ready to come back to the farm. "Loren (Carson and Colby's father and 3rd generation farmer) made it clear he wanted us to come back. He always left the door open."
When considering his return to the farm, Carson described needing time away to appreciate the opportunity provided by returning to the family business. "I was working at a 'no thinking allowed' job in Kansas City," Carson shared. But he quickly came to realize that there were few limitations on what he could do at the farm. "I could be as good as I wanted to be. I was incentivized to be creative and to find alternative solutions to the problems we had been facing," Carson went on to say.
It was never just about one next-generation member coming back, though. In this case both Carson and Colby returned. Colby Lucas brings an eye for detail that compliments Carson's people-first philosophy. Where Carson builds relationships, Colby aligns those relationships toward the farm's long-term goals and high-quality standards. Together, the Lucas brothers agree that the farm is now working more efficiently than ever, with more opportunities in the future.
This duo, with the help of their off-farm sibling, have their eyes on the future - one that is thriving with a resilient next generation. "The people coming back are making a choice to return. They aren't coming back for the wild money opportunities. They are coming back because they want to make a difference. We get to do that every day," said Carson. "Farming is not easy. The people coming back know there are alot of challenges and they are coming back with their eyes wide open and they are up for what's next."
One thing is certain. Even though we see the challenges ahead, our team is continually impressed by the next generation members who are making the choice to return to rural America. These key contributors are charting a path forward for agriculture. If the Lucas family is any indication, the future is in good hands.