Empowered Next Generation
February 18, 2021
Learning from older generations while being open to new ideas has provided a successful foundation for Alex Head’s farming career. Alex, 31, is continuing a fourth-generation grain and cattle farm in Macon County with his father and brother – Head Bros. Land & Cattle, LLC. He credits his dad with allowing him and his brother to take on key operational decisions at a young age.
“At 29 years old my dad handed me the reigns of the farming side and took a step back into more of a mentor role,” says Alex.
Alex remembers his farming interest began while riding in the combine with his grandfather at a young age. He attributes his work ethic to his grandfather as well.
“One summer day my brother and I wanted to have friends over instead of baling hay. I remember my grandpa responding to our disappointment with, ‘I’ll tell you one thing, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ Just hearing Grandpa say that once has stuck with me my whole life,” Alex says.
With six people now involved in the decision-making process, monthly meetings are an important part of running the farm business. Alex and his wife, Lena, focus on the grain operation, while his brother, Rollin and wife, Sasha, run the cattle side. Parents, Malcolm and Susan, are still equal owners and help actively run the operation. Alex calls his father the best “utility player” as he lends an extra hand wherever needed.
Technology is also an essential part of the family’s farming strategy, as is taking advantage of niche markets. Because of the farm’s proximity to ADM in Decatur, they’ve benefitted from market demands for specialty and non-GMO crops. Alex says gaining knowledge through Farm Credit Illinois learning programs and workshops and trying new things are crucial to moving forward.
“Farm Credit has done a great job for young farmers, helping us learn to better manage our farm. Whether it be transitioning from the older generation to the younger generation or helping us do balance sheets or cashflows, it’s all very beneficial for our farm,” says Alex. “FreshRoots has played a big role for me and my wife by helping us buy our first farm. With the discounted rates and learning tools they provide – the help has been unmeasurable.”
Alex will continue seeking advice from those with more experience, as he understands the value of knowledge from older generations.
“When you start to think you know everything, that’s when you are going to get in trouble. You’ve got to be willing to listen and learn.”