Farming’s New Faces
by Daniel Looker
published March 20, 2013 on Agriculture.com
They are different, yet united by a toughness that farming demands. They are among the newest faces on the nation’s landscape, yet many have a long heritage in growing food.
Laurie Schmidt of Nemaha, Iowa, is one. By midsummer of 2012, her face and arms are tanned from working outdoors. She’s pleased at having sold some of her corn for over $7 a bushel, but she’s worried about the cracks appearing in her dry fields. It’s her eighth season growing corn and soybeans after her husband, Roly, died in December 2004. She’s no stranger to the rigors of farming. “I was 11 years old when Dad had me on tractors,” she says. But Schmidt went to college for her other job; she’s a middle school physical education teacher.
It was her husband of 28 years who bought seed and sold the crops, a skill enhanced by working for an Illinois grain elevator.
“He loved hedging. He lived for that,” she says. So her first season of choosing hybrids, planting, and marketing was a plunge into the unfamiliar. She got a gentle push from three other farmers in a machinery sharing group that included the Schmidts. Her seed dealer and her brother, Don Mason, also talked her through those early steps.
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