TINTAH, Minn. – Pretty much anywhere you look online, you’re going to find posts by Jamie Beyer of the Tintah/Wheaton area. She’s taken on a role as a social media “agvocate” sharing the story of agriculture with farmers and the general public.
That makes Jamie, 41, and her husband, Rodd, 43, good people to follow along with this year. This growing season is looking like it could be a tough one with low prices and a late start. Rodd and Jamie are part of the next generation of farmer leaders – and they are not afraid to share their story and the story of those around them. They are fighting for a future on the farm.
The Beyers had an extraordinary experience a few years ago that set them up for ag leadership. They participated in the 2015-16 DuPont (now Corteva Agriscience) Young Leader Program, and it was at that pivotal moment that Rodd and Jamie decided to get involved in politics and leadership.
Jamie has become very involved with the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, while Rodd serves on the Traverse County Farm Bureau board and is taking part in the Minnesota Agricultural Rural Leadership program.
Currently, Jamie serves as vice president of the MSGA, a lobbying and farm advocate group.
It’s a challenge to juggle everything, but they are both committed to improving the farming community.
Rodd and Jamie have three children, Aspen, 13, Paige, 11, and Josie, 10.
Rodd’s cousin, Jason Beyer, farms down the road and the two of them help and support each other. Rodd’s mother, Darlene, remains active in the farm and in Farm Bureau, and Rodd’s dad, Robert, passed away in 2016. Beyer Farms also has two employees, Kip Norton and Paul Sprengeler.
Jamie and Rodd are both from Wheaton, Minn., and they met in college, where Jamie earned a bachelor’s in philosophy. They married in 2003.
Jamie has spent most of her career working in government – colleges, universities, city government and now for the Bois de Sioux Watershed District.
“I’ve always had an off-the-farm job,” she said, “and then in 2013 and it just kind of hit me. We’ve got these three girls and we live in town. Unless I started to get involved in the farm, they weren’t going to know about the farm.”
She found part-time jobs so she could help on the farm. Working in the watershed district allows her to focus on water quality and quantity issues, and it matches up well with her interests in agriculture.
“It’s part time for me as it takes a lot of time to help with this and do the soybean stuff,” she said with a smile.
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The Beyers started their farm back in the 1890s. They’re at the base of the Red River Valley. A continental divide is located just a few miles south and water flows into the Minnesota River Watershed and the Gulf of Mexico. At their farm, the water runs north to Hudson Bay.
“We feel it’s very unique topography here, but it’s also very frustrating that we are a long way from St. Paul and the political issues,” said Jamie. “It’s hard to have the politicians understand what is going on here and we tend to get lumped into the Minnesota River Valley, which is a waste of time because our water flows north.”
It is almost 200 miles from the Beyer Farm to the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, and the Beyers know they have to plan if they go there. That’s part of why Jamie is so involved in social media – she can communicate from anywhere.
“I think a lot of people are scared of using social media and haven’t figured out how to use it as a tool,” she said. “They don’t take that next step to say, ‘Okay, here’s how I’m going to get some attention or get people fired up about an issue.’”
Where farmers have an advantage is talking about their own farms, she said. There are reasons why farmers use practices, so that can’t be disputed by someone who is not farming the land.
Using social media helps the public see that farmers are real people too.
This spring, the Beyers are raising soybeans, sugarbeets, corn and alfalfa. The 2019 growing season marks Rodd’s 23rd year of farming.
The Beyers upgraded a lot of their equipment in 2012, so there is less maintenance in the spring. One of the John Deere tractors had a warranty inspection, and the other needed a tire fixed in early April, and then it was the preparation, greasing and cleaning jobs to get ready for planting.
“We usually just try to plant the sugarbeets and get that over with,” he said. “I kind of like planting some beans early too, which is a little different from most, but I’ve been having pretty good luck planting some beans before the corn anyway.”
The Beyer crew sticks to their field plans and will work with whatever fields are ready to go. Some fields are tiled while others are ditched, and there are fields with rolling hills in South Dakota too, so they are all ready to be worked at different times. The fields are dug once or twice before planting, although Rodd has been experimenting with no-till on about 10 percent of the acres.
The weather patterns of the last few years seem to be continuing in 2019 with mostly cool conditions in April and some heavy snows. Farmers began getting into the fields around April 26, just before temperatures got close to freezing for the final weekend of the month. Traverse County was predicted to get snow, but that remained to the south, and west-central Minnesota only received rain.
The Beyer crew was waiting for the next window to open for fieldwork, and then they would be hitting it hard – hoping to get the seed and inputs in the soil before rain returned.