RANDOLPH, Iowa — Snow is just a distant memory as Will Longinaker plants corn on a gorgeous spring day.
“It’s good to finally get going,” he says.
Longinaker and his father, Jay, farm in Fremont and Mills counties in Iowa. In addition to the row crop and hay operations, the family also has a commercial cow/calf herd. Calves are custom fed at nearby Gregory Feedlots, and the Longinakers also buy feeder cattle and have them custom fed as well.
Longinaker, 27, has a degree in ag economics and farm/ranch management from Kansas State University. He says coming home to farm was pretty low on his list when it came to future employment.
“I had a lot of job offers, but nothing felt quite right,” Longinaker says. “I liked doing this, and I just stayed with it. I think my dad was pretty happy to have me back.”
The farm has been in his family since 1870.
Since coming back, Longinaker has spent a great deal of time working on the cow herd.
“I had my own cows going back to 4-H, and that’s something I really love,” he says. “We have slowly been building it up since I came back to the farm, and I can see us continuing to do that.”
The Longinakers are converting some low-producing crop ground back into pasture.
“We have Reed’s canary grass that we fight all the time there, and since we don’t produce much of a crop on it, we decided to see if we could graze it,” he says. “It can’t be any worse than what we’ve had.”
Longinaker is also developing a more intensive rotational grazing system, moving cows every few days to fresh grass.
Community service is also a priority for the southwest Iowa producer. Longinaker serves on the board of the Fremont County Cattlemen and is also a district director for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, serving Mills, Page, Fremont, Montgomery and Pottawattamie counties.
He is also a member of the Fremont-Page Corn Growers Association.
“I think it’s important to be involved,” Longinaker says.
He says feeder cattle markets have been up, adding there is some cautious optimism among producers.
“It was a rough winter around here, and then you had a lot of flooding in our area and Nebraska in March and early April,” Longinaker says. “I think it had most people pretty depressed, but the weather is nicer and we are able to plant, so I think a lot of producers are feeling better about everything.”