Answering the Call of Opportunity
November 14, 2019
For Nathan Wentworth of Macon County, one conversation locked in his career path. While in college, Nathan answered a phone call from his father, who asked if he would be interested in coming back to the farm to help with additional acres that had just become available from retiring farmers. “I eagerly accepted but said I wanted to finish my master’s degree in crop sciences as I only had one semester to go,” Nathan notes.
During that last semester, Nathan commuted back and forth from Champaign to the farm during the 2004 harvest. He and his wife Jessica then moved to Warrensburg and now live in the house where Nathan grew up. “My dad made tremendous financial sacrifices that allowed me to begin farming,” Nathan says. “Without his sacrifices and willingness to have me be a part of the farm, I’m not sure what I’d be doing today.”
Now Nathan, a sixth-generation corn and soybean farmer, farms with his father and cousin. He is responsible for most of the operation’s agronomic, logistical, equipment, and technology decisions. In addition to marketing his own grain, he also markets grain for several of their landowners.
Performing financial analysis and making decisions on acres for which he receives income can be stressful. One way Nathan stays on top of important issues is attending financial workshops. At FCI’s Young Farmer Retreat in 2017, Nathan and Jessica committed to improving their financial position after listening to Dr. David Kohl, a well-known speaker on agricultural finance and small business management.
“We’ve made decisions that have improved our working capital and ownership equity,” says the father of two. “We now better understand the importance of our financial health as we plan for the future.”
Nathan adds that one of the most important changes he’s made in the last three to five years is the way he markets grain. “I now market grain based on a projected net farm income rather than just selecting unrealistic price goals,” he explains. “Understanding the cost of production and projecting net farm income help remove emotion from marketing and can improve working capital and ownership equity.”
Focusing on agronomics and technology is also key. “Over the past five years, we have basically turned our entire farm into a research plot,” he points out. “We want to make data-driven decisions, so we have invested in technology that allows us to gather and analyze data collected from our on-farm research.”
Nathan says data helps him make the best decisions regarding products and practices he might use in the future. “We’ve seen significant increases in yield because of our use of cutting-edge technologies.”