Navigating change on the family farm
Taylor Goering, her fiance Cole Ledford and Greg and Tammy Goering work together on the family farm to continue a proud history of more than 100 years on the land.
By Amy Sitze
As a child, Taylor Goering often heard her dad say, “Farming is my therapy.”
It didn’t make sense to her at the time, but as a young adult helping to manage her family’s diversified farming and ranching operation in central Kansas, she now laughs when she catches those same words coming out of her mouth. “You hear people say that if you love your job, you don’t work a day in your life, and that’s how I feel about farming,” she says. “No matter how tough it gets, I absolutely love what I do.”
Passion for farming
Taylor is among the nation’s 1.2 million female ag producers. That number accounts for 36% of the country’s 3.4 million producers, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service 2017 agricultural census (the most recent available).
Her father, Greg Goering, says he originally thought his son, Trenton, would someday run the farm. But Trenton followed a different path, joining the military. Taylor, on the other hand, showed a strong interest in farming from a young age, and has recently taken on responsibility for business decisions about crop rotation, finances, technology, labor, equipment and more.
“Taylor has a passion for it,” Greg says. “She thinks, eats, sleeps and drinks farming. She’s always thinking about the future: What’s the best thing to do tomorrow and how are we going to do it?”
Taylor and Greg both say they feel fortunate to have help making those decisions from Brandon Schrag, director of sales for MKC, a cooperative with more than 11,000 members across central and southwest Kansas. Schrag, who has known the Goering family for more than 20 years and remembers Taylor when she was “knee-high,” says he’s enjoyed watching her grow into a leadership role on the family farm and appreciates her willingness to collaborate in the face of challenges.
“She might be looking at a field and wondering why the corn is yellowing,” he says. “We’ll walk through it together and try to figure out the problem and come up with solutions.”
No matter how driven, intelligent and tech-savvy the Goerings and other farmers are, Schrag says they’re too busy with daily work and business challenges to keep up with all the rapid changes in products and technology. “It’s my job to stay up-to-date with new technology and new practices and bring them to their farm,” says Schrag. “It’s also my job to challenge the status quo and sometimes encourage them to change practices to help their profitability and reach their yield goals.”
For Taylor, change is what farming is all about — even in an operation whose history stretches back to the early 1900s. (A favorite family story describes her great-grandfather hearing the siren announcing the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918, as he was finishing the barn roof.)
“Technology is changing and evolving every day in agriculture,” she says. “It can be hard to understand and utilize, but in the end, it makes things easier for all of us — and we can see the return on investment.”
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