Lessons Learned as a Teenaged Tenant Farmer
February 8, 2022
Jacob Strohbeck, FreshRoots Directors Cup recipient of Madison County at age 29, rented his first five acres of farm ground as a senior in high school. He described this early start as both nerve-racking and incredible. Throughout his 10 years of farming, he discovered there are pros and cons to being a young farmer.
His early farming career brought challenges including finding a lender willing to take a risk on him.
“The hardest and scariest part was trying to get an operating loan at such a young age. Many banks aren’t willing to lend money to a beginning farmer, but Farm Credit was. And after they rolled out the FreshRoots program, it became even simpler for me to get a loan,” said Jacob.
He expanded his operation since first investing in farm ground in 2010, including a 60-acre farm purchase in 2019 where he is currently building a home. Jacob recalls his FCI lender going above and beyond, working directly with the realtor. Jacob says the purchase wouldn’t have been possible without the discounted interest rates available through the FreshRoots program.
Alongside the help of his parents and Farm Credit, Jacob also grew his operation by building relationships with others. He says he will always help a neighbor in need, even if it means giving up time for his own priorities.
“I’ve farmed 30 acres the past three years for a neighbor who couldn’t operate the combine anymore. He paid me a little for the work, but it wasn’t about the money. It was about helping a fellow farmer. Unexpectedly, this year I had the opportunity to rent those 30 acres,” said Jacob.
He continuously invests his time to help others and build a brighter future for his community. Between owning and managing his farming operation, he finds time to serve as township road commissioner and a volunteer firefighter.
Jacob’s road commissioner duties are most demanding at times opposite of his farm. Setting his own schedule relieves some pressure, but it can still be tough to find a balance between all of his responsibilities.
“Waking up every day knowing what you want to get done and working hard to accomplish it is important. But sometimes you make sacrifices to help people out. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you don’t have time to be a good person,” said Jacob.