There was a lot on Randy Phelps’ mind as he was planting corn and soybeans on the farmland he farms across four counties in central Illinois.
Input costs and interest rates are climbing, which threatens to cut into margins. Labor has become more expensive and harder to find, and truck drivers needed to haul grain are scarce.
Most worrisome: Mother Nature threw a wrench in everyone’s plans with cold, wet weather that delayed planting by several weeks. Wait too long to plant and the growing season is compressed so much it affects yields and returns.
“Weather…dictates what we do and when we do it,” he said. “This year has been a little slower to start, but we’re making good progress now.”
Despite the difficulties, Phelps was still all smiles. He was spending the day in his tractor, and as he reminded us, “Farming’s the fun part.”
And it was obvious that he enjoys being a farmer.
Providing food for everyone is rewarding for me.
“Providing food for everyone is rewarding for me,” Phelps explained. “Being out here in the country and around nature…I love it.”
He started farming with his father right after high school, and the family farm grew “slowly and ethically,” as Phelps put it.
Good landlords have been a big part of the family’s ability to expand. For Phelps, there’s one trait that really sets some land investors apart.
“Farmland Partners is probably one of the better [institutional farmland investors],” he said. “You’re dealing with people who understand what you’re doing, rather than dealing with someone that’s sitting behind a desk and hasn’t been involved in agriculture.”