October 04, 2022

Making up for lost time

Q&A: Kendell Culp

RENSSELAER, Ind. — Corn is growing fast and furious in northern Indiana, as plants soak up the heat and make up for lost time.

Kendell Culp, farmer and vice president of Indiana Farm Bureau, shared an update about his farm near Rensselaer with AgriNews.

Q: Tell us about your farm.

A: I’m a fourth-generation farmer. My son is the fifth generation, and my dad is still on the farm. It’s a diversified farm with both grain and livestock. We raise corn, soybeans, wheat, beef cattle and hogs.

Q: Do you enjoy farming with your family?

A: Absolutely. It’s a special opportunity to work with your family, to have a family business and to grow that. It’s a heritage with us. Each generation has new challenges and new opportunities to continue to have a successful and progressive farming operation.

We meet those head on and do the best we can. We try to grow and improve our operation. To be more efficient, more productive with the acres and numbers of animals we have to work with.

Q: What are some of the benefits of diversifying your farm?

A: We’ve always been a diversified farm. It gives us an opportunity for income throughout the year. You’re always selling a commodity. The hogs turn over quicker than other commodities we have. That income diversification is helpful.

We raise the corn that we feed to our cattle and hogs, so that gives us an opportunity to market our corn in another way besides hauling and selling to an elevator or processor.

Q: Are farmers concerned about road safety this time of year?

A: I think most farmers stay keenly aware of the need for safety when they’re on the roads. They understand the size of the equipment. Most farmers understand there’s a need for slowing down. But there’s also a need for awareness with the general public, as well.

We ask the public be mindful of slow-moving and large equipment. We just have to be patient during this period of time and again in the fall when we harvest.

Q: Have you experienced increased prices and are those concerning?

A: Yes and yes. I’m really concerned about the 2023 crop. Last fall we had our inputs purchased. Granted, it was very costly and most input costs doubled except for seed. Now the question is, can I even get it at any cost?

With the Ukraine conflict, Russia and the sanctions because of that conflict, it adds another level of concern to farmers.

Q: How are commodity prices?

A: Commodity prices are strong right now. As producers, we’re happy to see that and appreciate that. What the general public sometimes doesn’t realize is, while those prices are stronger, the input prices are extremely high, as well. There’s a lot more risk and a lot more volatility.

Corn prices could move 20 cents in a day, soybeans 30 or 40 cents. There’s a lot of risks, and it’s the same with input costs. If you can lock in input costs, at least you can account for it. But there’s still concern about availability.

Some of that is logistical, getting it when you need it. But with world affairs going on, will we be able to get it? Especially with phosphorous and potassium. Will we get that when we need it, and at a price we can afford?

Q: What other costs concern you?

A: I think it’s going to be interesting to see what seed prices do next year, with the run-up in commodity prices. Will those prices go up? I expect they probably will. Let alone fuel.

Agriculture is a big energy consumer to get the crop in the ground and then harvested. That’s another concern.

The last concern is labor. That goes back to availability. There’s just a workforce shortage in this country, and I don’t know of any segment of any industry that is in good shape with employees.

It’s really challenging. It’s driving a lot of industries, including agriculture, to more mechanization and automation because of the lack of labor available.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor