Ag Career Profile: First Generation Farmer

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Nestled in Hodgenville, Kentucky sits Fresh Start Farms, owned and operated by Ryan Bivens, a first-generation farmer.

Fresh Start Farms operates on about 800 acres with corn, soybeans and wheat. Bivens said it is a true family farm because not only do he and his family live there but their four full-time employees and their families live there as well.

Bivens said he manages the day to day operations of the farm, such as employee management, logistics, supply purchases and marketing, while his wife, Misty, makes sure everyone stays fed during the busy seasons. He said sometimes the Fresh Start Farms teams can spend up to 18 hours a day in the fields.

“I grew up spending my summers helping neighbors, and you might say that I immediately fell in love and it got in my blood,” he said.

Bivens said he always knew he wanted to farm and has been fascinated with heavy equipment, animals and land from a very young age.

“I tell everyone that when I went off to UK, to get my BS degree in agriculture, that I didn't go for an education, that I went to find a wife and business partner,” he said. “And in my opinion, I couldn't have done any better!”

Both Bivens and his wife come from agriculture backgrounds. Misty’s parents raised tobacco and beef cattle and Bivens parents grew tobacco and wheat.

“I always knew I wanted to farm,” he said.

Bivens said despite the agriculture economy facing a tough time, there’s no feeling like taking a seed, nurturing it and watching it grow until harvest time.

“Watching a crop grow can be just like parents raising their children in some ways. Things don't always work out the exact way you may want them to, and there will always be good times and bad, too much rain, not enough, too high of temperatures or too cool of nights,” he said. “However when harvest comes around, or your child graduates from school or gets married or have kids of their own, there is that  feeling of pride and accomplishment.”

According to the USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture, the average age of the American farmer is 58.3 years old. However, young farmers who reported their primary occupation as farming increased 11.3 percent, from 36,396 to 40,499, between 2007 and 2012.

“I’ve had plenty of people tell me ‘You can’t do that!’ and by nature I always tried to prove them wrong,” said Bivens.

Bivens said his advice to young farmers is to set goals and work hard, find a mentor and listen. Also, don’t ever let anyone tell you can’t do something.

“You can’t be scared to fail,” he said. “And never ever give up.”

By McKenna Dosier for TeachKYAg

Ag CareersJennifer Elwell