Jeremy Wilhelm, chief executive officer of Frontier Cooperative based out of Lincoln, Neb., said the company’s mission to aid farmers evokes some grand words by America’s first president.
“George Washington once said, ‘Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man,’” Wilhelm said. “This rings true today. We have the opportunity to work with some of the greatest human beings this world has to offer — the American farmer.”
Wilhelm explained more than 100 years ago, a small group of farmers started the foundation of today’s Frontier Cooperative – recently re-established Sept. 1, 2019. The company aims to create a reliable source of inputs for their farms and markets for their production. Throughout the last 100 years, Wilhelm said, cooperatives have joined together to become more efficient and competitive for the farmers.
“The early business was gathering grain at harvest and storing coal for home heating,” Wilhelm said. “Today, with advances in technology, our farmers are planting and harvesting more in one hour than what they would have done in a full day. With these advances, we have had to evolve as a business. Yes, we have built speed and space to match these advances, but we have also implemented sophisticated technology in automation and agronomics. We use these tools to put together a plan for each grower that is customized to their land and goals.”
Wilhelm explained that Frontier Harvest is made up of 50 locations, with some sites that take in more than 300,000 bushels of grain per day during harvest. He noted this would have been a decent-sized facility 20 years ago.
Two decades ago, Wilhelm also pointed out, they ran 11 knife bars running at four miles per hour during the fall fertilizer season.
“Today, there are 21 knife bars running 10 to 12 miles per hour and applying 150 to 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre,” he said. “The use of GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and satellites has also been exciting to watch the growers adopt. With all of this, we are growing more bushels with fewer inputs and have a very sustainable business model in place.”
While Wilhelm said they are making a concerted effort to retain a sustainable business model, there are always challenges.
“Labor on the farm continues to be a challenge with the low unemployment rate and the aging demographics of our producers,” he explained. “These challenges have been mitigated in recent years by bigger machines, larger trucks and new technology. More cab comforts like autosteer and air ride seats allow the grower to be on the machine more hours in the day. And we even have autonomous tractors and grain carts being tested.”
Wilhelm said while things have changed, the core reason the Frontier team starts each new day providing the same service has not.
“We have a passion for being a part of helping our growers be more successful and are doing our part to help feed the world,” he said.
These sentiments are also reflected in the company’s mission, “Empowering our team to provide an experience that enables our owners and communities to prosper.”
“Our success is based upon the relationships our employees build with our customers, and our employees have a passion for serving agriculture,” Wilhelm said in closing. “We are that helping hand — the trusted advisor — and have partnership relationships with our customers knowing that we have the same goal. This is evident by the number of employees that have 20, 30 and even 40 years of service with our company.”
Kerry Hoffschneider can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.