Rolling Over Roadblocks

Santa Fe FFA member Jacob Dierking wins State Star Farmer after tackling the challenges of a beginning farmer.

Breaking into the industry as a young farmer comes with its challenges. Missouri FFA’s State

Star Farmer is all too familiar with the hurdles and roadblocks that must be overcome. Jacob

Dierking of the Santa Fe FFA Chapter started this journey through his Supervised Agricultural

Experience (SAE).

 

“In 2015, I was given an opportunity by two neighboring landowners to start farming, first with a 10-acre field and then another 19 acres on which I grew corn,” he says. “In 2016, I was able to rent 35 acres to grow corn. I also began a vegetable business growing 9 acres of sweet corn with my parents and brother.”

 

With his sights set on growth, Dierking had to choose between focusing on the row crop or vegetable production side of his business throughout the years that followed.

 

“In 2017, we expanded to growing 80 acres of sweet corn and 34 acres of green beans,” he says. “In 2018, a neighbor retired, and I was able to rent his farm to grow 83 acres of corn and 39 acres of soybeans. Since I was able to rent more land, I decided to scale back the vegetable production so I could properly manage my row crops. In 2019, another farmer retired, and I decided to sell the green bean equipment so I would have the money to invest in crop inputs.”

 

By 2019, Dierking was farming a total of 195 acres of corn, 111 acres of soybeans and 25 acres of sweet corn.

 

While his progress is evident, it wasn’t always easy. Dierking had to overcome many challenges, including one of the most prevalent among beginning farmers.

 

“One major challenge in my SAE was financially being able to purchase enough equipment to farm efficiently,” he says. “When I began my SAE, I was able to exchange my labor with my grandpa for the use of his machinery. Since then, I have been able to purchase many needed pieces of equipment.”

 

Overcoming roadblocks has empowered Dierking to pursue a career in production agriculture. After graduating from State Fair Community College, he plans to expand his row crop operation by obtaining more land to rent in the future.

 

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