How the farmer’s daughter became a farmer

  

Sarah Greer has always had farming in her blood.

“When I graduated from high school, people asked me what I wanted to do when I got out of college. I said I wanted to be a farmer,” she said. “People would say, ‘Oh, you want to be a farmer’s wife?’ and I said, ‘No. I want to be a farmer.’”

After graduating from the University of Nebraska– Lincoln with a degree in diversified agriculture she received a Master of Arts in management from Doane University. After spending over 15 years working in the private 

sector, Sarah finally got her wish when she became the fifth generation in her family to become a full-time farmer, planting her first crop in spring 2017 on the family farm near Edgar, Nebraska.

She’s responsible for farming some 1,000 acres. Sarah and her father, John, operate as individual sole proprietors. Sarah sharecrops with the landowners, who include members of her family as well as other landlords. She is purchasing selected equipment from her father.

“I didn’t want to farm until I couldn’t do anything else, so I was looking for an exit strategy,” John said. “When Sarah began to express a genuine interest in farming, my wife Lynn and I knew she could do it. Once Sarah decides to do something, she’s going to commit to it wholeheartedly.”

Sarah makes all the decisions related to cropping, fertilizing and marketing. “Marketing has been the biggest learning curve for me even though I’ve watched the markets over the years,” she said. “It’s different when you’re marketing your own grain and it’s your bottom line and your loans you have to pay off at the end of the year.”

According to John, Sarah is bringing a fresh new perspective to crop farming that challenges his traditional ways, especially when he’s helping her as a “hired hand.” “We’ve been having this friendly debate about planting speed. I believe that today’s equipment allows you to go five or six miles an hour, but Sarah has done her homework and decided that four miles per hour is the optimal speed,” John said. “But I do admit to speeding up a bit when a storm is coming…”

Sarah said she hasn’t seen a great deal of resistance from others as she establishes herself as one of the few female farmers in the area. “Everyone I work with has had a great relationship with Dad, so it’s been an easy transition as I establish relationships with the network of people I need—from agronomists to bankers to suppliers,” she said.

For Sarah, there is a true emotional attachment to the land she’s farming.

“I remember growing up and working these fields when I was a young girl. Now, these fields are my responsibility. Everything is on my shoulders, so I want to do a good job for my family, my landlords and the land. And I want to do a good job for myself and the next generation.”

Sarah Greer

Sarah said running a farm is a viable career option for a young woman. “While there is a physical labor aspect to it, it’s still a business with balance sheets, profit and loss statements and management decisions,” she said. “I would encourage any woman who wants to come back and take over the farm to do so. If you think you can do it, you absolutely 100 percent can.”

“Being able to work with Dad has just been a blessing because he’s such an amazing mentor. He was trained as an ag teacher in college, so I really feel that his life and career are coming full circle as he helps his daughter become a good farmer,” Sarah said.

“Being able to work with Dad has just been a blessing because he’s such an amazing mentor. He was trained as an ag teacher in college, so I really feel that his life and career are coming full circle as he helps his daughter become a good farmer,” Sarah said.

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