Meet a Farmer: Marc Arnusch


This interview from the Meet a Farmer Campaign from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is being reproduced with permission from the Federation. Visit the website to learn more about this campaign and other initiatives.

Onion producer Marc Arnusch of Prospect Valley

Name: Marc Arnusch

Farm: Marc Arnusch Farms, LLC

Town: Prospect Valley, CO., located 35 miles northeast of Denver.

Years in Business: 15 as Marc Arnusch Farms.  Our family has been farming in the United States Since 1952.

Family Involved: Myself, my wife Jill, son Brett and my Father Hans Arnusch

Our Operation

We own and operate a 1,800 acre diversified row crop farming operation located in Prospect Valley, CO.  We produce a number of crops including sugar beets, corn for grain and silage, wheat, sunflowers, alfalfa and dry onions.  In addition to our farming operation, we process and ship our onion crop, along with onions grown by several other area producers.  Currently we package and ship onions to 19 different States.

In conjunction with our farm and onion operations, we represent Pioneer Hi-Bred International as the local Pioneer Salesman.  Recently we started a consulting firm dealing with water and land management issues.  Currently we employ six full time employees and up to seventy seasonal workers within our businesses.

What is unique about our operation?

Our operation is unique in that we are very diversified within agriculture.  We are producers, marketers, shippers, seed suppliers while providing consulting services to those involved in issues such as managing the conflicts between urban and rural interests.  I am a third generation famer and I follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather who immigrated to the United States from Austria in 1952.

How I began farming.

My wife and I returned home from college to work within my Father’s operation.  My degree was in Agriculture Economics, but production Ag was where I wanted to be.  After working one season for my Father, I was able to rent a farm from a nearby neighbor.  I borrowed equipment from my Father and my Uncle to operate the first few years until I was able to begin purchasing some of my own.  As the years passed, I was able to rent others farms to grow my operation.  At that time, my operation was centered around the production of sugar beets; the crop my family was most familiar with.  Even though my Father had a separate farm, we always harvested together to spread the cost of machinery.  We also produced malt barley and pinto beans then, but they were later discontinued.

In 2003, my Father decided to retire from farming and came to work with me.  I was able to absorb his land base and incorporate it into my current farming operation.  It was this same year we took on a new crop; onions.  We were the only onion producers in our area until very recently when a couple others growers began producing.  In 2007, the onion shed we were growing for, afforded us an opportunity to lease and manage the facility on our own.  It is this facility that we still operate today.

Along the way, we were fortunate to attain the local Pioneer dealership which greatly enhanced our farm.  Over the years we have grown the business to the point of adding a full-time agronomist/salesman to the agency to better assist our customers.

Living so close to the growing Front Range of Colorado has exposed our farming community to many conflicts between urban growth and rural sustainability.  In the parched eastern plains of Colorado, water is a valuable asset.  It is the catalyst to prosperity, opportunity and growth for both agriculture and municipalities.  It is this tug-of-war which drew our family into establishing a consulting company to try and strike the balance between these competing interests for land and water.  Currently, our farm is helping a large developer look at alternatives to buying up and drying up prime farmland which ultimately leaves the land relatively useless.

What consumers should know about agriculture, animal care and stewardship of the land

It is important for consumers to understand the significance of having a domestically produced food supply that is grown using safe technology, sensible production practices and prudent management of our resources.

There is as much history as there is tradition embedded in our industry.  Our land, livestock and respect for the environment we produce in is more important to us than we are ever given credit for.  Our land and livestock make us who we are.  Without proper care for the land, our animals and our environment, our farms and ranches suffer.

As farmers, we take extreme pride in what we do, what we produce and how we deliver it to the consumer’s table.  The ultimate goal is to provide an abundant food supply which is safe, affordable and of the highest quality.

In order to achieve these high standards, agriculture must work hard at communicating the importance of our industry and the practices necessary to produce such abundance to the households across this country.  Agriculture is all too often forgotten about, taken for granted or singled out as not living up to ecological or ethical standards; but by whose definition?  Knock the dirt off of any farmer or rancher and you will find the “greenest” individual on the face of the planet.

The best aspect of being a farmer.

The best aspect of being a farmer is raising a crop, an animal and a family in the same tradition as the generation before us.  The technology has changed, our businesses have evolved and the way we approach our day-to-day activities is different today than it was just five years ago.  What hasn’t changed is the hard work, the integrity and the optimism that is agriculture.  The end of each season leads to the excitement and opportunity of the next.  Adversity often gets in the way; however farmers and ranchers tend to overcome such obstacles.

The attachment to our land, machinery and livestock is legendary.  The responsibility of such ownership can be daunting, but that emotion quickly disappears at the site of a new born calf, the smell of freshly worked dirt and the sound of a tractor working in a field.  There is not a more rewarding experience, in my mind, than that of being a farmer.

Seldom do you become a farmer or rancher; you are born one.  There is just an automatic recognition by farmers in accepting the duty of producing for your family and all those that we feed, cloth and supply fuel for across this nation and around the world.  We take better care of our land and livestock than we do ourselves.  It is this type of sacrifice that is never seen by the average consumer.

What worries Farmers more than peers in other professions?

There are many things that will worry a farmer or rancher more than those in other professions.  Weather, uncertainty, loss of control and succession planning; these are just some of the things we worry about more so than a Doctor or Lawyer.

There are certainly other occupations that have concerns over weather and loss of control but few, if any, combine these issues with the uncertainty of passing their businesses onto the next generation.

Farms are consolidating, they are becoming more concentrated and fewer people are needed to operate the same land now than ever before in history.  Returns to the farm gate can fluctuate violently, which is unlike many other professions that young people are interested in.  The hours can be very long and often families find themselves sacrificing time together in order to get things done.  It is becoming harder and harder for young producers to justify the economic risk needed to take over many operations of any size and that is making it more problematic to pass along the family farm.

Farmers worry a lot, and they have a lot to worry about; however the biggest fear I have as a producer is not having the luxury of my son wanting to be involved in our operation.  I am a third generation farmer; I hope I am not the last of my generation.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by fathead on September 16, 2010 at 9:39 am

    HI BRETT

    Reply

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