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Published June 19, 2010, 12:00 AM

Focused on the family farm

BELFIELD — Stark County farmers Kevin and Marie Fugere feel they may be part of the last generation of small family farms who were able to start with very little and build it into something bigger.

By: By KB Carter, The Dickinson Press

BELFIELD — Stark County farmers Kevin and Marie Fugere feel they may be part of the last generation of small family farms who were able to start with very little and build it into something bigger.

For farmer Kevin Fugere it’s the little things that he loves about farming and the excitement of knowing that each day brings something new.

“You don’t really know what you’re going to do when you walk out the door,” he said. “It is always a challenge.”

Kevin Fugere has been a farmer for more than 30 years. He worked in the oil fields after high school until his father passed away and he took over his father’s farm. It started small but he was able to work his way up and now owns 450 head of cattle, and has 300 acres of wheat and 150 acres of corn.

This year’s outlook for the cattle market looks good, he said, but it can always fluctuate from year to year.

“It can be really disheartening when the cattle market is 20-30 percent lower than the previous year,” he said adding, “so you always have to be prepared for that. The only way to prepare is live by the rule you don’t spend money if you don’t have to.”

To save money Fugere doesn’t have any additional workers, instead Marie and 17-year-old son Ian, who is soon heading to the state high school rodeo competition in Bowman, help out when they can.

Marie is a full-time post office employee in Belfield where she works to supplement their income. She helps on the farm almost every day. “I love to ride my horse Buck and help wrangle the cattle,” she said.

“There is such a sense of community with the small family farms,” Marie said. “Neighbors will stop everything to help when needed.

“Whole families will come out for brandings and cattle births; you just don’t see that very much anymore.

She said it is hard for small family farms to survive without neighbors to help out.

Dennis Richards is their neighbor and agrees that these small farms would not survive without each other.

“We help each other move cattle and I used my equipment to help Kevin dig a spring on his farm,” he said.

Over the years there has been an increase in absentee landowners with big money buying land and building farms, Kevin Fugere said. “They are making it almost impossible for a young person to come in and start up as a farmer.”

He feels he is part of the last generation of farmers who were able to start with almost nothing and build. However, “even if a young person is discouraged from starting a farm if it is something they really want, anything is possible.”

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