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Brooks and Stephanie Reid

Brooks and Stephanie Reid evaluate GPS maps at the kitchen table.

In 1998, Brooks Reid started farming his first 160 acres. He was a freshman in high school and the farm was his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) for FFA. “The farm had been abused,” Brooks recalls. “It was in rough shape.” And with that, Brooks found himself stepping into an opportunity that would continue a family tradition of conservation-focused, progressive farming.

That same year, there was an opportunity through a government program to cost-share on no-till equipment. “Dad helped me sign up for cost-share on a no-till planter,” Brooks explains. “The cost-share covered the cost of the interest. And back then the interest was high, so it was a big deal.”

With his no-till planter, some help from his dad and wisdom from his grandpa, Brooks started the slow process of turning the farm around. “My grandpa was very conscious about conservation and stewarding the ground,” Brooks says. That year, his first 160 acres made 90-bushel corn.

By 2002, Brooks graduated from high school and found himself balancing college courses and farming. After graduating with an agronomy degree from Northwest Missouri State University, he took on a role with DeKalb County Soil and Water Conservation District, further adding to his soil conservation knowledge.  He was farming on evenings and weekends until 2010, when he decided it was time to pursue farming full time.  Although he had made some progress on the original 160 acres during this time, the next two decades were going to bring even more.

Brooks and Stephanie Reid

In 2007, he married Stephanie, a farm girl he met in FFA. “I said I would never marry a farmer,” Stephanie laughs. “I saw how hard my dad worked and didn’t want that lifestyle.”

Stephanie’s father, a full-time postal worker, farmed on the evenings and weekends. He farmed bottomland that was subject to destructive floods in 1993 and 1995. “That was traumatizing, having the floodwaters right up to our front yard,” she explains. “So, I married a hill farmer.”

Together, the couple got serious about technology, conservation and sustainability. “We are trying to heal the ground so that our son has something to farm,” Stephanie says.

In addition to no-till farming, Brooks was one of the first in the area to start using cover crops on his farms. Brooks gives credit to his grandfather, his father and Dr. Jamie Patton, a soil professor at Northwest Missouri State University, for all helping to shape his mindset. He decided to throw some rye out with fertilizer to see what it would do. “At the least we’d be able to tell how well the fertilizer man did spreading,” he jokes. “We’d be able to see where he missed.”

But it ended up being much more beneficial, and since that time, they’ve incorporated even more cover on their farms. “I like to plant green now,” Brooks clarifies by referencing the process of planting a cash crop right into a growing cover crop. “There is a learning curve with cover crop,” he continues. “That’s why some of these cost-share programs that have been introduced more recently are so important. It allows us to try some things and, if we fail, it’s not a complete business failure.”

In 2011, the couple hit a roadblock when the bank they had been using for financing changed directions. “There were some changes at the bank, and it was like they didn’t want to work with us anymore,” Brooks recalls.

For a short time, he relied on supplier input financing, but knew that was not going to work because of the restrictive options. “I basically had to buy whatever product they sold. Not what was right for our farm,” he says.

Brooks filled out an inquiry form on the FCS Financial website and loan officer Jordan Harmon reached out to him shortly after. A relationship was quickly formed, and Jordan has served the family ever since.

Reids discuss farm plans with Jordan Harmon, FCS Financial loan officer.

“Brooks is one of the most progressive farmers I work with,” Jordan says. “Most of the time when he calls me needing money to do something new, it’s something I haven’t heard of anyone else around here doing yet. But he always has a plan. And after going through the FCS Financial Connect program, the quality of data that he and Stephanie provide has really improved. It makes it easy to work with them.”

To farm the way he and Stephanie want to, Brooks says doing his homework is an important step in obtaining capital. “I always show Jordan what I want to do, why I want to do it and how it’s going to pay.”

The couple also has an intense focus on technology that allows them to better manage every inch of their farms. The planters, sprayers and combines are all equipped with GPS precision technology, they communicate to each other and they instantly push data to the cloud.

“Every row has to contribute,” Brooks says. “I am watching every row.”

Technology also takes the guessing game out of the equation. “We have data that we can look back at and figure out what went wrong or what needs to change,” he explains.

The couple has come a long way from where they started. “In 2014, I hit over 200-bushel corn for the first time and that first 160 acres was the farm to do it,” Brooks proclaims. Just like they aimed to, they have healed the ground.

They are nowhere close to being done, but they are starting the next chapter. This year, their 11-year-old son will start managing his own farm. “He’s taking over a 40-acre farm that has been in my family for over 114 years,” Stephanie states. “Just the other day he was looking up corn to plant and doing the research he needed to get ready.

“His dad is going to guide him. And he’s going to continue the family tradition,” Stephanie says with a smile.

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