Off-Farm Income


I have repeatedly said that you will see business opportunities all around you once you become an entrepreneur.  It is really true.  Once you start a business, you don't have trouble thinking of new business ideas; you have trouble staying focused on just one.  Something in our perspectives changes once we enter into the arena of entrepreneurship.

There is a good chance that if you listen to the Off-Farm Income Podcast, you could be surrounded by business opportunities in your everyday life and not even realize this.  Many of my listeners are parents who are taking their kids to stock shows several times per year to exhibit their animals.  So, if you are spending all of your time at livestock shows thinking that you can't start a side business or even a full-time business because of this commitment, are you correct?

Back in 2016, I featured an interview with Dolly Denson, "The Fit Stock Show Mom."  She was a person who found herself in this position and came up with a business idea that would serve the other parents at the stock shows.  In today's episode, I am proud to feature another group of people who have recognized the opportunities at stock shows and are making it happen for themselves.

In today's episode, I speak with the owner/operators of "The Stock Market Boutique."  I will be having the co-owners, Olivia Warren and Kyle Blaydes, on the show.  Olivia's daughter, Tori Warren, will also be joining us to talk about being their primary model for the clothing they sell and her role in social media marketing.

Along with a group of people, Olivia and Kyle recognized that there was a niche to be filled at stock shows, selling clothing to exhibitors that they would like to wear around the shows and in the arena.  That is when this business was born.  However, over time the other people involved in the business dropped off, and ultimately it became just Olivia and Kyle, with Tori playing a big supporting role.

Today "The Stock Market Boutique" is traveling to different livestock shows and larger events like the National Finals Rodeo, selling their fashions and meeting people in agriculture.  Tori brings the perspective of a lifelong exhibitor, Olivia has the perspective of a former 4H member and the parent of an exhibitor, and Kyle brings the perspective of a full-time farmer.  This combination is working very well for them.

Even though Covid, with the cancellation of so many shows, they have maintained their business.  They are looking and different revenue models in addition to clothing and are poised to really grown once Covid is over.  You are going to enjoy getting to know this great group of entrepreneurs.

Connect with The Stock Market Boutique:







However, you decided to get into business for yourself there is one constant; you must make the leap from your full-time job to your new business when the time is correct.  For most of this audience is especially true because so many of us have a lot at risk.  If you are in your mid to late '20s without a 401K, a family, a house, etc. then making a big leap is a lot less risky.  But for the rest of us, we really need to mitigate this risk.

Our guest today, Ray Miller, does not take this lightly.  Even as his microbe business grows and spreads across the nation, he continues with his previous career on a less frequent note.  He does not want to let his license expire, thus burning that bridge to an income if he were ever to need it.  So, he is content taking it slow and making the leap when the timing is right.

I normally follow Dan Miller's lead and suggest making the leap when your new enterprise is producing 50% of your full-time income as a side hustle.  However, if you have the ability to do what Ray is doing, it is a great idea.  That is, just shifting percentages of income generation gradually until the new enterprise takes over for the previous one.

Ray followed an interesting path to his own business, much as our guest in episode #468 did by becoming a distributor of Rogue Equipment.  Ray found a great product and realized that there was a need for it, but people around the country did not know about it.  He made it his mission to rectify this and became a distributor.  He has seen great results and cautions us that you had better believe in your product before you decide to deliver it to the rest of the nation.


SLOWLY: Make your transition from your full-time job slow and gradual.  Just because you have a great idea does not mean that you should slaughter the goose that is laying the golden eggs.

PERSON: As much as you can, meet people in person and shake their hand.  The internet and social media are great tools and need to be used, but they are not a substitute for eye contact.

NEEDS: When you are trying to find a business to start, identify what it is you want that business to do for you.  Then make sure whatever you pick is in line with that.


"If You Don't Believe In What You Are Doing, Nobody Else Is Going To"


PEOPLE: Ray loves to meet and get to know new people.  This helps him to succeed.




Interviewing FFA students for this show is an absolute privilege.  It constantly keeps me optimistic about the next generation, and I get exposed to multitudes of wonderful stories from around our nation.  Today's interview is a perfect example of this.

Savannah Pittman is a junior at Calloway County High School in Murray, Kentucky.  Her family has been farming in Kentucky for at least four generations.  And for many years all of her family has worked together in a very large, family garden.  Today, Savannah and all of her cousins work together in this large, 1-acre garden and their very large greenhouse.  Together they produce all the fruits and vegetables that they sell under the name, "Papa's Produce Barn".

They took their business name from the legacy left by their great-grandfather, whose barn they sell out of when they are not at the local produce market in Murray on Saturday's.  All the cousins have a different area of specialty in the garden.  For Savannah it is tomatoes.  Savannah is learning a lot about business through this experience.  So much so, that she is even signing up for business classes and activities outside of the FFA.

You are going to really enjoy hearing about Savannah's special family tradition, and getting to know this impressive young lady.

Direct download: OFI_978__What_Do_You_Really_Have_To_Offer_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


At what age can you start setting big goals?  I think that I have learned from almost 1,000 interviews on this show that there is no minimum or maximum age.  I have spoken with business owners who set their goals when they were young children, and I have spoken to business owners who never realized they had it in them until they retired.

Today's guest is one of those inspirational entrepreneurs starting at a young age.  Paige Haith is a sophomore in high school.  She is also the founder and owner of "Pastries By Paige".  She has a line of 10 desserts that she makes, markets, and sells.  Paige does all of her marketing on social media with Snap Chat and Instagram being her most widely viewed locations.  She is also in the process of starting a second business.

What stands out about this interview with Paige is her goals and her attitude.  Starting with her attitude, she has not been in a classroom since March of 2019 when lockdowns first began.  During that time she became the chaplain of her FFA chapter, but she has not really been able to do anything with the role.  This is frustrating.  However, Paige has not looked at this situation as a source of frustration.  She has looked at it as a source of opportunity.  It has been during this time that she started Pastries By Paige.

Paige also has big goals, and she is already using the SMART system of goal setting.  She knows how big she wants to grow her business, that she wants to have two storefronts in two different states, and by when she wants to accomplish this.  These are the keys to actually accomplishing these goals.  Paige is the kind of person who charges forward with an idea to see if it works.  She is already having great success, and it is exciting to see where she will take it.

Follow Paige on Instagram: @pastriesbypaige_


Direct download: OFI_976__When_Will_The_Sheep_Massacres_In_The_U.K._Stop_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


There is a debate that has been arising over the past decade or so about whether or not paying for a college education is a wise investment.  This debate has continued to grow as valuable skills are being taught more and moreover the internet.  As the advancement of technology moves forward at a more rapid pace, the people with the most up to date skill sets are not coming out of colleges but are coming offline.

When you throw out professions that require a college degree; such as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc. you really start to see a devaluation of a college degree.  If you focus specifically on entrepreneurship type skills, the value drops even lower.  Part of the reason for this is the rapid pace of increased tuition costs that have outpaced inflation for years now.

Today's guest, Kyle Stockdale, is a married, 25-year-old dairy farmer from Ontario, Canada.  At the beginning of our interview, Kyle told me that he had not attended college, and then he made the statement "might as well go to work and make money rather than go to school and spend money".  There is financial wisdom in this statement.  Of course, Kyle did not incur the expenses of college, and during the four years that he would have been making minimal income as a student, he was able to make significantly more money, giving him the opportunity to start investing and growing his net worth if he wished.

That was how we started the interview.  But by the end of the interview, I was recognizing something completely different about Kyle that was very compelling in light of him choosing to skip college.  Kyle knows marketing, and when he starts talking about marketing and growing his business he is clearly very educated.  So, without college, how did Kyle obtain all of this knowledge?

Kyle is one of the millions of people who have followed a relatively simple formula.  He found a niche that he was passionate about and that he could start a business within.  Then he found mentors and teachers online that would help him develop the skill sets he would need to create a successful business.

Kyle started a business called KYVision Sharpening & Repair in 2018.  He did this because he wanted to make extra money and because nobody else in Canada was doing this.  He had always sharpened his own blades and repaired his own clippers for fitting and showing dairy cattle, and he thought that he could turn this into a profitable business.  So, Kyle already had one important skill set to put towards his idea.

However, no matter how good you are at your core skill, your business will not flourish if nobody knows about you.  So, you must market.  This is where Kyle went to work finding online mentors who would help him grow, and this is how he became a marketing expert.  It is clear from listening to Kyle that as passionate he is about his core business, he is equally or more passionate about marketing.  I can say first hand that it is surprising what passions you expose in yourself when you start your own business.  Kyle discovered something about himself by building this business, and he can now talk about marketing like the most polished of college graduates.

Connect with Kyle Stockdale and KY Vision Sharpening & Clipper Repair:






Caitlin first appeared on our show way back in episode #142.  She has come a long way since then.  Now she is studying animal science and agricultural business at Michigan State University, she is the Michigan State FFA President and she went to the White House and met the United States' President.

Caitlin is still raising and selling her show quality lambs all over the country.  She wants to build this business even bigger, thus her choice to study Ag Business.  She has now won a proficiency award in sheep production, and she has been a regional star in agribusiness.  You are going to love getting this update on Caitlin Henne!



In six years of producing this show and conducting interviews, I have learned a lot about entrepreneurship.  For example, I know that I am not a natural-born entrepreneur and the only way I ever became one was to decide that was what I wanted to do and then teach myself how to do it. Of course, there are natural-born entrepreneurs who will never be able to work for somebody else and have no concerns about failure or risk.

Outside of those two categories, there are those people who find themselves entrepreneurs because some characteristic about themselves pushes them in that direction.  I am calling that characteristic, whatever it is, "The Entrepreneur's Attribute".

I believe that our guest today is one of those people with "the entrepreneur's attribute".  Dresen Ferschweiler is somebody who learns all the details about whatever she is doing.  For example, her father and grandfather farm hazelnuts in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Dresen has grown up around this industry, and she can answer every question from why can't you graze goats and sheep in the orchards, to whether or not irrigation is needed to how tariffs against China are impacting the price of hazelnuts. Dresen is still just midway through her junior year of high school, and her supervised agricultural experience is actually about livestock but she has that much knowledge about hazelnut farming.

Dresen is making and selling sheep halters from her home in Gervais, Oregon.  He has now sold halters to people in eleven states, and her business continues to grow.  She has done little to no marketing.  She haphazardly entered an entrepreneurship contest through the National FFA and ended up having her halters being featured at the National Convention, and she still has never gone to the national convention.  As her reputation grew from being noticed at the national convention she eventually started an Instagram page with photos of her halters under the very practical but not flashy name, "sheep_halters".  Today she is selling more than ever, has different pricing programs, and is doing custom orders.

All of this started when Dresen was in the seventh grade.  She was showing sheep for 4H, and she saw that somebody had a custom halter with a piece of fleece over the lamb's nose.  She was interested in the halter and started looking at it more closely.  She recognized that the material that had been used for the piece over the nose had some flaws.  First, it would stretch out pretty quickly and stop looking and feeling good for the lamb.  Second, it was of a material that would collect debris from the show arena and pen and would be next to impossible to remove.

In a situation where most seventh graders would look at a product and declare, "I want that", Dresen looked at the product and said, "this won't work, and here is why.  I can make it better".  This characteristic of examining something and really studying it before the emotion of wanting it overtakes you is Dresen's "entrepreneurial attribute".  This ability to look at something, and instead of becoming excited to determine its shortcomings and then build a better product is the way that so many entrepreneurs get started.  To be honest, I wish that I had this attribute.

Looking into her future, Dresen is applying this attribute to career planning already.  She is interested in becoming a veterinarian, but she is already looking at the way things have traditionally been done in the goat industry and thinking that it can be done better.  She is interested in getting involved in artificial insemination and embryo transfer in goat, which is a developing field.

This attribute that Dresen has, in combination with her great attitude and strong work ethic has her set up for success in whatever field or business she chooses.

Direct download: OFI_972__Everyone_Has_To_Get_Pulled_Out_Of_The_Ditch_Now_And_Then.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT



In 1988 the Future Farmers Of America changed its name to the National FFA Organization because of Toby Winans.  Toby Winans was only born 18 years ago, and 1988 is 32 years ago, so how is this possible?  Well, Toby Winans is the perfect avatar for the person that the National FFA Organization was thinking of when they changed their name to reflect the growing diversity in agriculture.

What the FFA recognized in 1988 was that there were a lot of students in the United States that were devoted to agriculture but who did not have the aptitude or desire to do the ground level work of farming.  However, these students loved agriculture just the same and had something to contribute with their particular skill sets.  The name Future Farmers Of America could have the connotation of excluding these students because they already knew that they were not future farmers.

Capturing the talents and devotion of students like Toby is important.  If we can, we want to keep students with talent as he has in agriculture. We need people like him to stay around.  This is probably why Toby's FFA advisor refers to him as an "FFA member who 'saved the year'".  Here is a note that she sent me:

"Hi Matt,
This afternoon I set you up with an interview with an FFA member that "saved the year". Here are a few facts that might be good for your interview with Toby.

Toby Winans was a quiet freshman that has turned into a true leader for Taylorville FFA. Last year when Covid19 canceled the final 9 weeks of our school year, Toby knew that canceling our Annual FFA Banquet could not be an option. We have a large banquet every year with over 250 in attendance. (The banquet is Big Community Event).

When our school shut all extra activities down due to Covid19, Toby figured out a way to have our FFA banquet by using his technology expertise and was able to follow our county guidelines. Toby Winans was a master mind of the 2020 Taylorville FFA Drive In Movie Style Banquet. Toby used his grandfather's semi van trailer for the movie screen and his other grandfather's flat bed trailer for our stage. He asked his dad and some community friends to borrow some audio video equipment and the rest is history!

The 2020 Annual Taylorville FFA Banquet was the best in the history of the program because of Toby Winans! His work on the banquet was incredible and it was an amazing night that was very uplifting for our community. The 2020 banquet will be one I never forget! If you have any questions I would be glad to fill you in on this amazing kid.
Thanks for your time.
Sue Schafer
Taylorville FFA Advisor"

Toby loves agriculture, and it is this life that he has grown up around.  However, he has natural talent and a passion for technology.  So, his talents will direct him towards supporting farmers rather than being one himself.  His talent was recognized early on, and he has been fixing computers, printers, and everything else technology-wise at his school since his freshman year.  They even created a position for his particular talents, and he is the chapter's vice president in charge of chapter technology.

Toby now has his own drone business.  He is using his love of both hardware and software to help farmers be more successful.  He scouts fields for his customers with his drone and the use of the "Drone Deploy" software.  He sees a future for himself in agriculture with this being his role.

Toby is the epitome of the student that the National FFA was thinking of when they changed their name.  Amazing students like this are what drives everyone in every aspect of the FFA, and what drives me to conduct so many of these interviews every year.

Direct download: OFI_970__Captured_By_Cattle_The_Worlds_Worst_Criminal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


There are two fundamental issues that have always plagued me when it comes to farming.  First, what do we do about urban sprawl and disappearing farm ground?  Second, how can a person expect to start a successful farm and be a full-time farmer with land, input, and equipment costs being so high?  So, when I was contacted by The Conservation Fund asking to be on the show and talk about their answers to these questions, I jumped at the chance.

The folks at The Conservation Fund are pro-agriculture, and they are particularly fond of locally produced farm goods that follow their model of sustainability.  They also abhor disappearing farm ground.  So, they are working to increase locally produced goods while slowing urban sprawl.  Right now they are doing this in the 30 counties, metro area of Atlanta, Georgia as a pilot project.  But the prospects are very good for expansion.

In this episode, I speak with Stacy Funderburke, who is heading up the "Working Farms Fund" on behalf of The Conservation Fund in the Atlanta metro area.  This program aims to pay farmers the actual market cost for their farms.  Once purchased, they place the farms into an agricultural easement so that they will be farmed in perpetuity.  And this is when the fun really starts.

Once these two things have taken place they match up the particular farm with an experienced farmer, who has been leasing ground or working as an employee and is looking to start their own enterprise.  Because the land has been placed in an agricultural easement the price is not driven up by demand from developers.  This gives the new farmer a reasonable shot at purchasing the land.  To begin the new farmer enters into a lease on the farm ground with an option to buy.

The Conservation Fund helps the new farmer with obtaining resources, sharing equipment, and developing markets.  In exchange, the City Of Atlanta and its surrounding metro area have another local producer who can bring locally grown food to market in that area.  It is a win/win/win situation.  You don't need to be from Georgia to participate in this and be selected as one of the new farmers.  We will tell you all about this in today's episode.

Connect with Stacy Funderburke and The Conservation Fund:







Entrepreneurship is the only option

If you want to farm, the further away from a major city you can get the more the land prices will reflect on their production capability.  But, there will be fewer jobs available to you, likely with lower salaries.

How will you produce your off-farm income?  92% of farmers in the U.S. rely on it for household income, either created by themselves or their spouse.

If you are going to take a full-time job, what do you do when you need time for farm management activities?

  • calving
  • Irrigation
  • raking hay
  • swathing
  • harvest
  • etc.

If you are making a big transition from a city career to a rural & farming lifestyle you might have skills and/or education that is not applicable in your new hometown.  If that is the case, can you use these skills to create your own business?

  • Turn your previous employer into a client?
  • Work remotely?
  • Teach online?

If you are going to keep a full-time career job in the city, what is a reasonable commute?

  • 20 miles
  • 40 miles
  • 60 miles

Don’t look at entrepreneurship as your lifestyle choice.  Look at farming as your lifestyle choice and figure out a game plan that will allow you to make that happen.  In this model, the production of your off-farm income no longer defines your working life.  It is now the means to allow your working life.

This is why I call agriculture the “ultimate lifestyle business”.  Other than being an actor, artist, or musician this is the only profession where people will work a second job, just so they have a shot at doing the first.

We are choosing this business of agriculture because there is such a strong, intrinsic reward for us that we are willing to make these sacrifices just for the chance to do it for a living.  We are choosing this career for the lifestyle because as a brand new farmer who has to develop their operation we cannot do it for the earnings.

If our career decision was solely earnings-based this would not make any sense.  We could clearly make more money, in less time, with less risk and more benefits at a city job, in a subdivision house with city neighbors.


When you are choosing your business try to look at things with demand in the area and nobody filling it.  Or, look at a business in which you could do a better job?  Or, find a business that somebody wants out of with good potential.

I would refer you to episode #480 about finding a true business opportunity.

Don’t get hung up on the earning capability of your business idea in its first phases.  One thing I can say for sure is that as you start working for yourself you will start to see opportunities and ways to generate more revenue than you were unable to see prior to beginning.

In other words, after you get started you are going to find more money.


How are you going to farm well enough, that you can eventually become that full-time farmer (or most time farmer) that you want to be?

As you are starting out, whether it be with livestock or crops, you need every advantage you can get.

That might mean a 100% calf crop.

Or that might mean a couple of bushel yield bump.

One thing I learned in my two years of riding around with crop advisors was that the best farmers seemed to be the ones that were out there with their herds or crops.  They were able to detect subtle changes or illness early and do something about it before it hurt their bottom line.

How can you do this if you are at work all day?

How do you get the time to react if you discover a problem when you’ve driven home from a long day of work?


All you have to do is go onto social media to find lots of people who will tell you not to try farming.  They will say many things such as:

  • “How do you make $1,000,000 farming?  Start with $3,000,000”
  • Or, “you can’t make any money farming”
  • Or, “the only way to make enough to survive is to become really big because of the small margins”
  • Or, “only the big guys get enough funding from the government to make a difference”
  • Or, “the deck is stacked against you”
  • Or just…..” don’t do it”

These words, unfortunately, come from people who were just like you at one point.  They had a dream of farming, and for one reason or another it did not work out.

There are no guarantees here, and we could all suffer the same fate and have to give up our farm someday, I included.

Farming is a business, and it may not go our way.

But, we don’t want to end up discouraging others.  I think that discouragement comes from years of struggling to work full-time and farm on the side.  When you do that you can burn out, and pretty soon the dream fades away.  The farm becomes just another obligation, and you then look at it only from the mathematical perspective and decide it is not worth it.

I don’t want any of us to lose the passion for this lifestyle because of burnout.

Entrepreneurship solves so much of this for us.  It allows you to manage your farm better, to give you every advantage possible. And, it helps to keep us invigorated and avoid that dangerous burnout.

Will you use entrepreneurship to create your Off-Farm Income?



They say that fortune favors the bold, and after hearing this episode I think you will definitely agree.  In today's episode, I am interviewing Kayla Reed.  Kayla is a former chapter president at the Pulaski High School FFA Chapter, and she is currently a student at the University Of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

Something happened in Kayla's interview that has only happened to me once before.  One of her FFA advisors sent in a special note about her and her accomplishments.  Here is what he said,

"She is the epitome of what we would hope every FFA members would do in their SAE program!  She is a self-starter that has had a goal for many years to be a FIsheries Biologist or something related to this field and is now into her first year of college in this program. What is also fantastic is that this a non-traditional area and Kayla made partnerships with our Wisconsin DNR and College research programs to get as much out of her SAE program as possible. You will be totally impressed!  P.S.  Kayla has also won so many accolades through FFA , conservation groups and scholarships form her SAE --that I cant even attempt to list them all!  Be ready Matt to get your world Rocked!!
Sincerely, Terry Erdmann"
My interview with Kayla certainly lived up to what Mr. Erdmann said about her.  Just one small part of her story will illustrate this.  When Kayla was in the 8th Grade she learned that a fisheries biologist for the Wisconsin Department Of Natural Resources (DNR) was planning to release Muskie fish into a lake that she had grown up going to.  She knew that several people were against this move, and she found herself getting involved.
As an 8th grader, Kayla spent two weeks researching this issue and then wrote a position paper on why the fish should not be introduced.  She then went to a town hall meeting held by the fisheries biologist about this issue and presented the paper to him.  Ultimately, the fish were not introduced into the lake.  The biologist was so impressed with Kayla's efforts on this that he allowed her to job shadow him, and he became a mentor to her in the area of fisheries biology.
This is truly a David vs. Goliath story.  Here was the biologist with the state position, the degrees, the research, and the experience.  And here was Kayla who had not completed 8th grade yet, had no experience, was much younger, was not an adult, and who wrote a paper on her opposition to the biologist's plan.  That is the definition of courage and boldness.
One of the main points we stressed in this interview with Kayla is just how being bold and courageous can open doors for you that would never expect.  Most kids in Kayla's position might have feelings about the issue, but would never be so bold to take on somebody who is respected as an expert.  But, she did.  And by so doing, she found a friend and mentor and opportunity.  Oh, and she found her passion. This is a lesson for life that everyone can emulate.  Do and say what you believe and let the chips fall where they may. This is the pathway to finding your happiness.

Direct download: OFI_966__Are_You_Living_In_Your_Dream_And_Dont_Even_Know_It_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT



I once heard luck defined as "when preparation meets opportunity".  I love this definition of luck because so many people on the sidelines think that people who achieve could easily be replaced by any other person off of the street if they just happened to have "luck" shine on them that day.

When I first started hosting a radio show and podcast for D&B Supply one of our family friends asked me about how that had occurred.  Before, I could explain she said "just fell into it?" or, to paraphrase, "just got lucky?"  There was a bit of luck involved in this happening.  I had actually called D&B Supply to inquire about creating a podcast for them, and I was lucky in the fact that they had decided to make a radio show and were trying to figure out how to find a host.  But, what my friend didn't see was that I had invested my own money in equipment for broadcasting about two years earlier.  And, for the past two years, I had been hosting a growing podcast called Off-Farm Income with no pay.  But during that time I had been developing my skills as an interviewer, learning to find guests, and becoming a consistent broadcaster.  It was this background, combined with the fact that D&B was looking for a host that led to me being chosen for this opportunity.

My interview with Megan Clark reminded me of this saying and this part of my life.  No youth organization in the entire world does what the FFA does.  The FFA does a great job of developing skills in students (preparation) and creating situations in which they can use those skills to accomplish great things (opportunity).  This is done through the efforts of the National FFA, State FFA Organizations, State FFA Foundations, Regional FFA Associations, and individual chapters.

Megan had a lot of things pulling her towards the FFA.  She lives on a farm and her parents and sister were all in the FFA.  But it was going to one of her sister's award banquets and seeing FFA members being rushed up onto the stage to receive awards and accolades that really lit Megan's fire.  By the time Megan was in the 8th Grade, she had joined the FFA.

Megan took this fire and started working hard, being very active, and achieving in her FFA chapter.  A few years prior to her even being eligible to become an FFA member some innovative leaders in her region of Iowa had started a media group comprised of FFA members called Current Ag Concerns.  This has now transformed into CAC Media Group.  So, while Megan was growing up and waiting to become eligible to be in the FFA, people were already creating opportunities that she could later take advantage of.

During Megan's sophomore year of high school, these two paths converged.  Megan's passion and preparation met the opportunity created by the CAC Media Group.  The National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado was coming up and the CAC was traveling there to cover the event.  Somebody on the team was unable to make the trip, and they needed to find a student to fill in.  Megan's FFA Coach recognized her talent and hard work based on how active Megan had been up to that point.  She invited Megan to come on the trip and fill in.

The trip went well, and Megan brought the same work ethic and enthusiasm that she had for the FFA to the CAC Media Group.  Soon, she became a regular fill-in on the team.  Then it was time to find new, full-time, team members to replace the graduating seniors, and Megan applied.  She was selected.  Now, she is a full-time team member, and she has traveled all over the United States covering events and conducting interviews.  She has been published in major publications on the radio and on cable television networks.

Megan is one of the "lucky" ones.  At least in the way that I define it.  She worked hard, demonstrated value and when the opportunity came, she was ready!


Today's episode is really special for two reasons.  First, it has the potential to be very impactful on the FFA.  Second, 80% of the world's hungry people are farmers.  But, unlike U.S. farmers, they are subsistence-based and less sophisticated.  But programs like Growing Hope Globally are taking farming expertise and productivity from the U.S. and exporting it to these struggling farmers.

On today's episode, Alex Morse will join us to explain what Growing Hope Globally's mission is.  He will talk about helping farmers in many poor countries throughout the world and how you can get involved.  He will also discuss how his organization developed a curriculum for FFA students to help them contribute to worldwide agriculture through their supervised agricultural experiences.

Alex specializes in helping farmers in Central America, and he has traveled to small holder's farms all throughout that region.  He has even taken FFA students with him to see who they were impacting with their efforts.  He has some amazing stories to share, and he describes people trying to farm in conditions that no American farmer would ever consider.


Follow Growing Hope Globally online here:







In 2011 when we purchased our farm we had a long, long way to go.  We bought 25 acres of weeds with a house on them.  There were no fences, no irrigation, and the land had not been cultivated in years.  I had a small, John Deer tractor with an 8' disk on the back, and I worked the ground with that.

Tons of rocks came up while I disked, and they all had to be removed and deposited elsewhere.  Progress was slow, and at times it seemed like this place would never resemble a farm.  During all of that time on the tractor, I listened to farming podcasts.  They inspired me, gave me the motivation to keep going, and helped me visualize what our place would be like someday.

One of those podcasts that I listened to was hosted and produced by today's guest, Tim Young.  Tim and his wife Liz were operating a farm in Georgia and selling cheese as their main product.  They had a variety of livestock, and I really enjoyed hearing about their day to day farming exploits.

Fast forward to today.  Tim and Liz have moved on from that farm, and Tim is now trying to help other people succeed in their farming endeavors through his website and podcast, Small Farm Nation.  The main thing that Tim learned about succeeding with his small farm was how to market products and sell directly to customers.

In this episode, Tim and I talk about marketing your farm products, and how to develop a following that will patronize your farm business.  Also, Tim discusses his Small Farm Nation Academy which he has built to help folks really perfect this process.  He also has offered 20% off of the coast of the academy to anyone listening to this podcast and entering the code "matt20" at checkout.

This is definitely worth checking out.


Website: Small Farm Nation




Introducing Cole Searle! 

I interview a lot of young men and women on this show who are devoted to agriculture.  These days you hear so much about kids not wanting to take over farms or continue that lifestyle that when a student who is passionate about agriculture comes on the show you wonder what their parents did to help them love this life?

Of course, on this show, I reach out to many of the highest achievers in the FFA.  Therefore, they are a self-selecting group.  Students who love farming and agriculture and are passionate about what they are doing, naturally find their way to the top levels of the FFA.  And, so I spend a lot of time talking to students who love this life and want to stay part of it.

Even though that is the case, I always wonder what was it that sparked the passion in these students, and how could we spread it to even more youth in the U.S.  It is probably a percentage thing, and even though it seems to me that all of them are this passionate, I am speaking to a very small percentage.

In today's interview, I get to speak with Cole Searle.  Cole is the 2020 Idaho State Star Farmer, an Idaho State Star winner, and was a National Proficiency finalist this year.  In his short-term vision, he is looking at an American Degree as well as becoming the National Star Farmer.  In his long-term vision, he is looking at a career in agriculture, especially working with cattle and horses.

Cole is another one of these students where I wonder what did his parents do, or what event took place in his life that made him fall in love with farming.  And, how do we spread that around?  Cole has grown up around farming with his father managing several farms from Washington State all the way over to Ashton, Idaho where they have been for the past ten years.

I know a little bit about where Cole lives and farms.  I used to drive through Ashton several times per year on my way to and from college in Bozeman, Montana.  And for the past five years, my daughter and I have taken a father/daughter trip every October and gone through Ashton on our way to Yellowstone National Park.

In Cole's case, I think I can solve a little bit of the mystery of what his parents did to inspire him to be so passionate about farming.  The answer is, they moved to Ashton.  I can visualize Cole out on the farm on a crisp, June morning, driving a tractor or irrigating.  And as the sun is coming up, there is something casting a long shadow over him.  That something is the peaks of the Grand Tetons.

Ashton sits in a fertile valley, to the west of the Grand Tetons and the Wyoming/Idaho border.  When you drive through Ashton you cannot help but pull over and take in the majesty of these unbelievable mountains.  These are the most identifiable peaks in the Rockies, and they are right outside Cole's back door.

I can absolutely see where Cole is coming from.  Growing up in a peaceful valley, working outside, and staring at his mountain range on a daily basis is definitely a recipe for contentment and passion!

Direct download: OFI_960__Are_You_Excited_For_2021.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT



Having a business model on your farm that is sustainable is challenging.  Of course, if you are commodity-based there are so many factors that are outside of the control that you've got to get bigger and push harder.  If you are smaller you are almost forced into being niche so that you can increase the size of your profit margins.  And then of course, if you only offer one product you can get into really hot water if the price or demand for that product falls.

In a perfect world, we would all know what type of farm business we were going to be involved in, in the future, and we could plan out our skill sets accordingly.  Of course, there is no such thing as that perfect world.  However, the FFA offers a future farmer the best chance of coming as close to this perfect world as anything that I know.

This is illustrated very well by today's guest, Emma Victery.  Emma has grown up on her family's farm in Oklahoma.  She is hoping to take it over at some point in the future.  She and her father have been looking at different products they could sell, different markets they could be in, and different ways to grow the business so that it will last for Emma and for future generations.

Just recently they began marketing bulls as a compliment to their commercial herd.  Looking into the future, Emma sees the sale of embryos and using embryo transfers on their farm as a way to offer other products and to really speed up the rate at which they improve their genetics.  Right now, Emma is a senior in high school.  But that does not stop her from looking into the future and trying to figure out how she is going to make all of this happen.

Emma will start college at Oklahoma State University in the fall of 2021.  She is planning on double majoring in animal science and agricultural communications.  She wants to go to veterinary school, become a veterinarian, and specialize in reproduction so that she can use those skills for embryo transfers on their farm.  This would also give her a great form of off-farm income.  Right now she is taking over the marketing responsibilities on their farm, and she plans on using her studies in agricultural communications to strengthen her abilities in this part of the business.

All of her efforts have led Emma to be the 2020 National Proficiency Winner in Beef Production Placement.  She is looking at applying for several more proficiency awards going forward, and feels like her journey in the FFA has just begun.  She has also been accepted to the honors college at Oklahoma State already due to her academic performance.  Emma is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the cattle industry, and it is going to be fun to watch!

Direct download: OFI_958__Dogs_And_Rural_Crime_-_The_Good_And_The_Bad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_957__Happy_New_Year_From_The_Brechwald_Family.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT