Keith County Farm Bureau member and Nebraska Farm Bureau District 8 Director Andy DeVries can trace back his “addiction to agriculture” to the age of 8. Both of his grandfathers were in farming and his father tried to make a go of it but when Andy was 8, his father was smack dab in the middle of the 80s farm crisis, paying outrageous rent for farm ground and they decided to move to Arizona for four years.
Upon their return to Nebraska, his father started a crop consulting business. Andy recalls always being told he “probably shouldn’t farm because he didn’t have anyone to help him” but in 1999, went to work for a farmer near Ogallala and fell back in love with driving tractors and planting corn. And, decided he was having as much fun farming as he was scouting fields. So in 2004, he and his wife, along with fellow Farm Bureau neighbors and friends Matt and Tina Schwartzkopf, found the means to rent land, buy equipment and start living out his dream of being a farmer.
Almost all of what they currently raise is irrigated corn and soybeans with 1 percent of their acreage in dryland corn and wheat. He has since taken over his father’s crop consulting business, so Andy considers himself well-diversified. He also runs a commercial trucking business and does custom farming in the fall harvesting corn and planting in the spring.
Andy says he jumped right in to no-till on his fields when most farmers in the area weren’t doing that on irrigated ground. Listen more here.
He’s talking about gravity when Andy says they “farm the flood.” They start by ditching the corn, then lay out pipe, then irrigate with pipe so the water can flow through the ditches. Listen more here.
Andy, along with his wife and high school sweetheart Laura, have four children: Raelyn – 12; Ryanna – 9; Michael – 7; and Reegan – 5. Laura operates the grain cart in the fall and helps irrigate in the summer. The four children help out on the farm, something the DeVries family believes to be important for instilling work and family values. Andy and Laura both echo, “There is a strong hope that we have started a first generation farm that will succeed for a long time and allow more generations to come.”
With high land prices and increasing taxes, Andy says it’s tough for young farmers or beginning farmers to start out in the business. But they are living testaments that it CAN be done.
Continue to check back to the blog each Thursday to get to know more farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska as they share their everyday stories. And to read past farmer and rancher profiles, click here.