Future of Farming: The Next Generation
Klein Farms Inc. – Showing Dedication Goes a Long Way
By: Julia Ruiz, Michigan Corn Intern
On Wednesday, September 1st, 2021, I visited with Cade Klein of Klein Farms Inc. Cade is a 3rd generation farmer based in Marcellus, MI. His farm includes around 750 acres of corn and soybeans with a small plot of sweet corn, as well as a small beef cattle herd. Cade purchased the entirety of the farm in 2016, which was a great achievement for him. He knew from day one he wanted to be a farmer, and he specifically wanted to farm on his grandpa’s land. Over the years, the Klein farm has seen its fair amount of change but one thing that has been clear from the beginning is the dedication to the land and the value it brings to them.
Klein Farms has always strived to put its best foot forward in terms of sustainability practices. As Cade puts it, “healthier soils make healthier plants” – a simple and straight-to-the-point reason to take care of the land. Klein Farms has been 100% no-till since his grandpa was farming the land, which was long before Cade came to the farm. Klein Farms also does crop rotation between corn and soybeans, as well as using cover crops on parts of their land.
These values are reflected in Klein Farms becoming MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) verified a few years back, something that Cade felt a sense of pride over when he finally was able to put the sign up! One thing Cade wanted to point out is that most farmers are already doing a lot of these practices. This verification simply helps give consumers the reassurance that they need to know that farmers are following certain practices. In today’s climate, that can be the little push needed to build trust between consumers and farmers.
Cade sees a major disconnect between farmers and consumers on what it is truly like to work on a farm today. With that in mind, I asked Cade what one thing he would like the public to know from a farmer’s point of view: “It’s really hard work,” he said. “And in today’s world, and even with today’s commodity prices, margins are paper-thin.” Following this, he added that the work is very risky and expensive and can make it hard to balance work and family life. “This is a choice we make,” he stated. “But it is certainly hard work.”
Cade shared some of the hardest parts of farming for him, with number one being looking towards the future. He is happy with where his farm is at now but hopes that he can keep the farm in his family or find someone to mentor one day – ultimately not having to sell his land. For farmers, it is easy to question yourself on whether they are making the right choices every day but ultimately, he is going to keep doing what he is doing and will keep trusting himself in the process.
Farming is of course more than its challenges; it is also a very satisfying and rewarding way of life. Cade said he loves being able to watch a crop grow throughout the season and likes working with the cows to mix things up. Above all, he loves having the opportunity to have his wife and kids out there on the farm with him. Family is a big part of farming, so this is a special experience for him.
The future of farming can be unpredictable, but some things seem to be constant. I asked Cade what he predicts will occur in the coming years in agriculture and here are a few concepts he touched on; the continued influence to push towards regenerative agriculture due to consumer influence, carbon credits becoming a bigger player within agriculture, and of course, the continued expansion of technology. This growth means there are certainly young people out there looking to find their way into agriculture but may not know how since they did not grow up farming. Cade’s advice to new farmers is to work hard, find a mentor, be patient, go slow, don’t spend all your money, and lastly, let opportunities present themselves because you never know where you’ll find them.