MAPLETON, Minn. – Starting a farm is not an easy task. It requires a lot of dedication, it requires a lot of hard work, and most of all, it requires a lot of start up investment. With the current conditions, a new farmer starting up is going to face even more challenges, but for 23-year-old Aaron Trio, the rewards are well worth the challenges.
“I started farming 20 acres in my senior year of high school and throughout college I started to pick up farms from some landlords,” said Aaron Trio during a recent interview. “Last year, I bought a farm through the young farmer program, now I farm about 600 acres.”
He and his dad, Steve, farm together, a total of 1,200 acres, raising corn and soybeans.
Steve started farming during the 80s while also working for a concrete business, which he eventually purchased and ran himself. That business focused mainly on hog barns.
“I was able to grow the concrete business and my farming as well,” said Steve Trio. “But, as I got older, I was able to pursue my farming and then just back off on the concrete business.”
When Aaron went to college and was working on growing his own farming operation, Steve was able to retire from concrete and pursue farming full time.
For the Trios, farming is a generational pursuit. Aaron’s grandfather is also a farmer.
“He is 83 and he is still farming at that age,” said Steve. “He's still on the home place, he is still actively farming his, but he has backed off on some of the acres.”
With both his dad and his grandfather actively farming, Aaron had the support he needed to start his own operation. The beginning farmer program was also a big advantage in helping him get started.
“If you're willing to put in the time and effort, the program gives you a pretty good edge in farming,” said Aaron. “It is a good program to use, if you're able to.”
The program itself is not exactly easy though. Aaron was required to complete a large amount of paperwork to get started and he has to continue to maintain accurate records and bookkeeping.
To qualify, he had to take farm management courses, he went through Riverland College. He continues to work with one of his professors, who has even come out to Aaron’s farm, to keep his bookkeeping records up to date.
The benefit of that requirement of the program is Aaron has no question where his break-even point is, and he knows exactly where he stand financially with all of his acres.
“You have to have land owners, the people that I am renting from or the people I purchased land from, they have to be willing to work with you and have patience as well,” he said.
Even though working with a young farmer in the program might be a little more challenging for land owners, there is a benefit to them. As long as they and the young farmer fill out all the necessary paperwork on time, the land owner receives a tax benefit at the end of the year.
“They don't actually get a physical check and just get it deducted off of that taxes, but it is a nice break for them,” he said.
As a farmer, Aaron can appreciate what those landowners are doing to help him get started and he makes sure he takes care of the land he is working.
“We do conventional tillage still on virtually most of our farms, but if there is a waterway through the farm or an area that is what you would call highly erodible, we just do a no-till,” he said. “Your side hills or if you got a clay knob on a farm, there's really no need to till that area and some areas on farms should really be in a waterway or have a terrace.”
The goal is to maintain that top soil for years to come while also keeping the water clean.
The Trios are also working on split applications of nitrogen, breaking those up to get a little better efficiency.
“The last couple of years, we've gotten into the precision ag, the variable rate planting grid sampling and all that stuff,” said Steve. “That's where it's great to have a young person, they get into it so much quicker than I do.”
Steve is very excited to see his son get into farming the way he has and also other young people of that generation getting into agriculture in various ways.
“There is opportunity for these young men and women to get in right now, but it is tight, and it is going to be tight,” he said. “You got to get in it and just manage it well, watch your p's and q's and you'll get through it.”