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Bauman Relies on Diversification, Positive Attitude

by Caitlin Yoder

Published: Friday, September 14, 2018

Young Farmers - Part 2 in a Series

John Bauman farms with his father and brother on their family farm in Kendallville. He and his brother Jerry are fifth-generation farmers. The Baumans farm 1,000 acres of cropland and raise 100 to 125 head of Holstein steers. They buy the steers as feeder calves and fatten them up for market.

"I've been working here since I was in high school," John said.

In addition to the grain and cattle, they also have a seed dealership they run on the farm. John believes that being involved so closely with the seed company helps them stay informed and gives them access to the best information.

"We diversified into the seed business two years ago," John said. "That's helped with staying in touch with the public out here, and dealing with other farmers, plus keeping in touch with new seed technologies as they come along."

Although markets aren't ideal for farmers, John keeps a positive attitude knowing that things will get better. He said he has found that sometimes opportunities open up more in the hard times than in the good.

"We went through a pretty good time not too far back," he said. "There will be another good time coming along I'm sure. We're just riding it out until we get there."

The Baumans are doing small things to cut back on costs, like opting out of buying new paint or updating equipment. However, John said they have not stopped investing in things like seed.

"You can cut costs," he said. "But before you know it you're starting to cut your income too far. That means you've still got to produce as much as possible. We haven't really had to back off too much yet."

John is hopeful that the tariff turmoil will work out for the best to improve the dip in prices. He thinks attempting to expand demands in the U.S. could positively impact markets as well. Education is one way he said farmers could help.

John is a Farm Bureau board member in Noble County, and will be serving as the incoming president. Through Farm Bureau, he is able to participate in agricultural outreach at the county fair, but he hopes to incorporate more on-farm education in the future.

"I think that a lot of people are disconnected from ag just because it's been too long since they've been to an actual farm that's operational," John said. "It's good to get the people to the livestock in the fair setting or something like that, but I think they still need education on livestock and what grain farming actually is out in the real setting so they have a little better understanding of what's going on."

Being born into farming, John feels like he's been given the "silver spoon," but he isn't afraid to lift that spoon and put in the work. He would advise other young farmers in the same position to put in their time and listen to the wisdom of the older generation.

As a farmer, there are many ups and downs. John said if young farmers can make it through the grunt work, there are many opportunities and the work will pay off in the end.

"I can't imagine myself doing anything else but farming," John said. "I've loved it ever since I started and that's always the way it will be."

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