(Story By Trevor Sherman)
Local farmer Garrett Croley talks the future of the farming industry in our state, as well as why he himself is #StillFarming
Last month we met Kyle Hubbs, a Knox County cattle farmer and Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) board member who helped to explain what KFB’s ongoing #StillFarming awareness campaign is all about.
This month, Whitley County’s own Garrett Croley discusses his experiences in agriculture, his thoughts on the future of the industry, the importance of reaching out to younger generations, and more.
“Basically, I’ve been farming all my life,” Croley said recently. “When I was a little kid, my dad farmed. I grew up raising tobacco. We also had some cows, some corn, and we put up hay as well.”
“When I was away at college, the tobacco buyout happened, so we stopped raising that. At some point along the way, we also got out of the cattle business.”
“When I came back home in 2010, we started expanding our row crop operation. We are now up to about 200 acres of corn and soybeans between me and my dad. We also still roll around 1,000 rolls of hay each year.”
Speaking about the decision to grow the row crop operation, as opposed to going back to some of the things that had been done in the past, Croley said, “When we got out of the cattle business, I never really had the desire to get back in it. I have always been more of an equipment guy instead of livestock, and row crops allow for more use of that equipment.”
Croley, who raises his crops in the Rockholds area of Whitley County, sells all of his corn locally, either to a feed mill, or directly to other local farmers who use it to feed their livestock. As for the soybeans, he said those are shipped out by the semi-load to a facility in Owensboro.
Croley continually rotates between planting corn and soybeans, keeping roughly a 50-50 mix at all times. He explained that planting in this manner is better for the soil, and results in a better yield for both crops.
roley said that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has presented some obstacles, mainly when it comes to the availability and/or cost of parts and equipment, but for the most part he said that things have been business as usual.
As a Whitley County KFB board member, Croley is proud to be a part of the movement to inspire younger generations to choose a career in the agriculture industry.
“We try to do a lot of education and spread the word about agriculture,” he said. “We award scholarships, and we have even paid the dues for all ag students at Whitley County High School to be members of the FFA Club. I am really glad to be a part of that.”
Elaborating about the future of agriculture, Croley said, “I want to see things continue to expand and grow here. I have three daughters myself, and I would be happy if at least one out of the three ends up being involved in farming long-term.”
“I always loved to farm,” Croley continued. “But I also always thought that it would be difficult to come back here after college and make a decent living doing it. I was wrong about that. I think that one of the biggest things in general when it comes to agriculture is that the younger generations need to see the opportunities. They need to have those opportunities presented to them, they need to know that it’s there, and then they can make the choice themselves instead of just being told, ‘this won’t work for you.’”
“It’s not easy,” Croley said of life on the farm. “It requires a lot of hours, but it’s doable. You just have to be an entrepreneur, and be able to adapt and move forward. The longer I do it, the older I get, the more I realize just how beneficial it is to everyone, not just myself.”
Speaking further on the idea of how the work done in the agriculture field benefits everyone, Croley said, “We’re all connected. It doesn’t matter what you farm. Whether it’s cattle, hogs, sheep, corn or hay … whatever it is, we all affect each other in what we do. We are globally connected. That is the way it works in the farming industry.”
KFB President Mark Haney also took the time to talk about the men and women who are #StillFarming recently, saying, “It takes a lot of work, and I am just so proud of the agriculture community in this state that they have been able to continue to deliver food to the nation in the middle of some of the hardest times that we have ever seen.”
As for the future of farming in Kentucky, Haney said, “I am excited about the future of agriculture in our state. Agriculture is imperative to the livelihood of Kentuckians, and it is becoming more and more tech-driven. We’re doing things progressively in the ag field, so that means there is a huge amount of opportunity for younger folks to come in and learn how to be savvy with these new forms of technology.”
For more information on Kentucky Farm Bureau and their #StillFarming campaign, visit them online at www.kyfb.com, or search the hashtag on social media.