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Young farmers rely on diversification and connections for growth

Community connections have helped one first-generation crop farmer get started.

Mitch Kline tells Brownfield he began farming when he was 14 years old and traded mowing services with a neighbor to grow hay in an overgrown field.

“I just used my dad’s mower and mowed his grass for rent and took the field out and borrowed some tractors from neighbors.”

Over time, more farmers helped him expand.

“They ended up seeing that I was very interested and taking me under their wing,” he says.  “I learned a lot by just being there all the time, not necessarily having a job on a farm but just being there.”

Today the 34-year-old has four full-time employees and several seasonal workers growing 1,200 acres corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay in Kalamazoo County. Kline also has a custom seed-corn harvesting business that picks up to 2,500 acres a year, plows snow, and drives truck to help diversify his cash flow.

“My number one hardship is having the money when I need it,” he shares.  “The finances of the whole thing is sometimes tough to flow.”

Mitch and his wife Brandie were recently recognized as the Michigan Farm Bureau Young Farmer Achievement Award winners.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Farm Bureau

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