Meet West Tennessee Farmer Mike Hampton
The Dirt on the Farm
Farm Family: Mike Hampton and his son-in-law, Tim
Crops & Livestock: Corn, soybeans and wheat
Farm Location: Woodland Mills in Obion County
Farm Bureau Membership: Over 40 years
Q: What type of farm do you have?
A: We currently have 4,500 acres where we raise corn, soybeans and wheat. We have two full-time employees, so four with my son-in-law and me who are full time on the farm, and during harvest, we hire additional help. Everybody on our farm has a passion for it and that helps – loving what you do makes it easier to work long days.
Q: What are your biggest challenges and blessings on the farm?
A: I’ll do blessings first because that’s easy – family. Having family help, and knowing I have a grandson who wants to farm after college…that is such a blessing. I think we have enough on the farm that the next two generations can take it and grow.
Thinking of challenges is tougher, but labor is such a crucial issue. In 10 years it will be hard to replace the guys we have now who have the passion and the training to do everything we need to succeed. I also think free and fair trade is a must. When we produce these commodities, we have to have a place to sell it. We need to share with our elected officials the need for open doors – free trade – to be able to continue farming. We are already selling some of these commodities at the same price we did 10 years ago, which means it is hard enough to stay profitable.
Q: What advice do you have for young farmers?
A: We are really blessed to be in this industry. The main thing is remembering we are only here for a short while and need to take care of it while we are here, then turn it over to the next generation and hope they do even better than we did.
Food security in our nation has to be a priority. I’ve never seen a country prosper if its people were hungry. I feel like if you have a strong rural America, the country will be better off for it. By utilizing new technology and making sure we produce good crops year after year with yields increasing, we can accomplish that.
Q: Are you Farm Bureau Proud?
A: To me, Farm Bureau is the best organization I’ve ever been a part of. The quality of people and the leadership we have – farmers in Tennessee are lucky to have an organization as strong as Farm Bureau. Having served on my local county board and getting to meet people statewide – you form a bond with them. The older I get, the more I see it’s a program that develops leaders, and I hope I can take what I learn and bring it back to Obion County. A board is only as strong as you make it – and our board has taken strides to ensure its viability. I think it must be a priority across the state to develop leadership and then use it. I’m confident in our young farmers and think there is a bright future as far as I can see down the road with them at the helm.
Q: How have you seen technology change?
A: We started farming with WD45 and Super M Farmall tractors. We didn’t have cabs, and even when we got cabs, we didn’t have air [conditioning], so in the summer it was stifling. In my lifetime, those changes, plus all the GPS and monitoring technology, have transformed the industry. In the last 10 years, the days don’t seem nearly as long as they used to be, because you aren’t stressed out at the end of the day.
I think it is going to get even better. The information we receive on the yields, data, fields where crop production was high or low – we can study it and find out why. Most years we use 10 different varieties of corn and match up soil types with certain varieties. We have on-the-go planters and program them to plant one type under irrigation and then switch to a different type once out from irrigated fields. It’s going to change in the future, but only for the better. And even though all that technology has a price tag on it, we haven’t invested in anything that hasn’t helped us become better managers or more efficient.