The Field family, tending to their farms roots for over 100 years
The Field family has been farming in Erhard, Minn. for over 100 years. While their farm has seen an abundance of change over the years, the family is committed to keeping Field Farms up and running.
ERHARD, Minn. — There is no denying that the landscape of agriculture has changed over time. From once using horses to plow the fields, to now using precision agriculture to get the job done, the ag industry has transformed itself for the world to see. The farmers of yesterday that tilled the ground with their bare hands were planting roots for future generations of agriculturalists.
In Erhard, Minn., the Field family is dedicated to nourishing those roots, even 100 years after they were planted.
A family affair
Mitch and Ben Field grew up immersed in agriculture. Being the fifth generation tied to their family’s farm, which originated in 1913, the ag industry quickly became second nature.
“My mom always tells me my first sentence was ‘go see cows,’” Mitch Field said.
For the Field brothers, the passion for agriculture stemmed deep, both pursuing degrees in the field of agriculture at North Dakota State University. After graduation, the Fields made their way back home to the family farm. Their father, Bill Field, is the farm’s day-to-day operator and sees that things are taken care of. While the brothers have jobs outside the farm, the duo hopes to one day make farming their full-time occupations.
Mitch sells minerals for VitaFerm and is a salesman for the Bobcat dealership located in Fergus Falls, Minn., while Ben is a product support specialist for Intelligent Ag, located in Fargo, N.D.
The Field family farms nearly 1,000 acres, growing soybeans, corn and alfalfa. While many areas in the region have been feeling the brunt of brutal weather conditions this season, the Fields have been fortunate to receive good weather.
“The heat and humidity have been pushing things along in the fields. It’s been pretty stellar. We’ve been lucky enough to get about an inch of rain a week,” Mitch Field said.
The Field family uses their alfalfa crop as forage for their registered Black Angus cattle operation. Any additional alfalfa they harvest is normally kept back for future forage for their herd or sold to local farmers in the area.
A new venture
There always have been cattle on the Field Farms, but in the 1980s and ‘90s, the main focus of their cattle operation was dairy. Due to the low commodity prices and the Dairy Buyout Program in the late ‘90s, the Field family decided to take a step back from dairy and immerse themselves into a new enterprise: registered Black Angus breeding cattle.
The Field family uses artificial insemination with their herd and credits AI for the genetic quality in their herd.
“We saw an opportunity to increase the genetic quality of our herd in a short period of time, which is what made us want to do AI,” Ben said.
The Fields bring in a semen technician to their farm to help with the process and use semen from various companies on their herd. By practicing AI, the Fields believe they have improved their herd’s genetic quality much quicker than if they practiced traditional bull breeding.
The herd encompasses 150 registered Black Angus. The majority of their offspring is sold private treaty to customers in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota for breeding stock.
For the brothers, the cattle operation gives them a sense of excitement.
"You pick what you're passionate about. I really love all aspects of the cattle side of things. I love watching them be born up to the time they are a year old. Every time one has a calf it's an opportunity for something special,” Ben said.
The brothers now have youth in the area show their cattle, as they are now too old to show themselves, something they grew up doing. The Fields showed in their county fair and local open shows. They even brought home some purple ribbons from the Minnesota State Fair.
They pride themselves on customer service, making sure to go the extra mile for their customers.
“We try really hard to go above what our customer base needs,” Mitch Field said.
In the future, the Field brothers hope to expand their cattle operation to 200 to 250 cows, and they envision an even herd that is profitable to the farm. They also look forward to stepping into the industry as the cattlemen of tomorrow.
“It's really interesting being a younger cattle farmer because of the way agriculture is trending a lot of the younger guys like to get into crop farming. Something we really look forward to is being part of the next generation of cattlemen in our area,” Ben said.
As some generations chose to find their footing elsewhere, leaving the farm, the Field brothers plan to be tending to their farm’s roots for decades to come.
“There is a sense of pride and enjoyment here. Return and come back home and keep the farm going for a couple more generations, that's what I want to do. I sure hope it's around for another 107 years. There are a lot of unknowns, the farm economy is a down market right now. We just have to weather the storm. It'll come back around. We just have to keep going,” Mitch Field said.