Episode 10: Tips for Getting Started in a Career in Agriculture
In celebration of FFA Week, our hosts have questions for our special guests, and they have all the answers. In this episode, our hosts chat about career paths in food, agricultural and environmental sciences with Adam Cahill, Career Development Manager at The Ohio State University. After the discussion with Adam, Hunter and Hayden Matus, young farmers and brothers, get to share their advice and insight on how fellow beginning farmers can start their individual farming operations off on the right foot.
First, we chat with Adam Cahill about careers in agriculture:
Q: Explain a little bit more about the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University?
A: Those are the three science-focused majors within what is typically referred to as CFAES for short. Everyone needs clean water, food to eat, and shelter - all things that encompass a career within the CFAES program. Students and alumni are currently learning about and putting into practice things like, “How do I break down a food allergen so that people can consume that food product?” Or, “How do we take sustainability and make it something that can be utilized in every aspect of our lives?”
Q: What are some of the unique career possibilities?
A: Whether it’s a new major or a long-standing program, each is offered at a bachelor’s or associate’s degree level. One popular program, Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS), is a relatively new major focused on supporting the world’s growing population. Animal science and agribusiness are always popular programs in terms of enrollment numbers, but there are numerous lesser-known opportunities as well - like drone operations and culinary science.
Q: How do internships benefit students?
A: Unique to The Ohio State, each student is required to fulfill an internship before graduating. This requirement came to fruition from industry feedback - a need for entry-level employees with hands-on experience related to their major. Not only does this give students more experience, but also helps them solidify what they really want to do. By having a major, a minor, an internship, and maybe even a study abroad experience, students can mold their career interests.
Q: What are some of the best ways for students to explore careers in agriculture and other related fields?
A: Some of the best ways to explore different careers are to start searching the internet, talk to alumni who work in the industry, attend your local county fair, enroll in science classes in high school, and schedule a campus visit.
Next, we chat with Hunter and Hayden Matus of Matus Winery in Wakeman, Ohio about the resources and opportunities available for young, beginning, and small farmers:
Q: What helped you start your own individual farming operations?
A: Family and financial support.
Q: What programs did you use to finance your farms?
A: Hunter and Hayden both financed their farms in different ways. Hunter utilized the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Program, while Hayden was supported by a split loan between AgCredit’s AgStart program and the FSA.
Q: As beginning farmers, what do you wish you would have known starting out?
The Matus brothers wish they would have known a few things before starting out, but offered advice for others: watch your numbers, embrace new opportunities, work hard, listen to your elders, and learn how to control your stress. Hayden ended with, “Farming is a lot more than just jumping in a tractor.”
Here’s a glance at this episode:
- [1:24-3:57] Brenna and Libby chat about their favorite memories from being involved in Future Farmers of America (FFA).
- [8:29] Adam reveals some of the unique, lesser-known careers that the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has at The Ohio State University.
- [10:20] A new major, called Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS), is a popular program associated with supporting the world’s growing population.
- [14:34] Ohio State’s internship requirement came to fruition based on industry feedback - a need for entry-level employees with hands-on experience related to their major.
- [16:14] Some of the best ways for students to explore their options in an ag-related career are to: start searching the internet, talk to alumni who work in the industry, enroll in science classes in high school, and schedule a campus visit.
- [25:13] Young farmers and brothers, Hunter and Hayden Matus, attribute family support and startup farmer programs to their success in beginning their own farming operations.
- [27:45] The Matus brothers wish they would have known a few things before starting out, but offered advice for others: watch your numbers, embrace opportunity, work hard, listen to your elders, and learn how to control your stress.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Ohio State CFAES Academic Programs: https://students.cfaes.ohio-state.edu/academics/undergraduate/majors-and-degrees
AgCredit AgStart Program: https://www.agcredit.net/agstart
FSA Beginning Farmers & Ranchers Program: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-loan-programs/beginning-farmers-and-ranchers-loans/index
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Guest Adam Cahill
Adam is a proud two-time graduate from The Ohio State University with a M.A. in Educational Studies, specializing in Higher Education Student Affairs and a B.S. in Agriculture where he studied agricultural communication. He has served for the past 14 years as the Career Development, Communication and Marketing Manager for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. Prior to this position, he was the managing editor for the Ayrshire Digest, a national purebred dairy industry publication where he spent most of his time talking to cows (if you were ever in an agricultural communication program…you will understand). In his current role with the university, he is responsible for managing all career development activities for students and alumni as well as assisting employers with recruiting needs. He is also responsible for communication efforts to students related to academic programs and brand awareness for the college.
Guests Hunter and Hayden Matus
Hunter and Hayden Matus are brothers who farm alongside their father and grandfather in Wakeman, Ohio. Both help out at their family winery, Matus Winery, where they also grow barley for the brewing industry. They each have their own individual career paths outside of the winery. Hunter owns a custom cover crop application business while also working full-time within a municipal water department. Hayden has a full-time job as a seed salesman.
Host Brenna Finnegan
Brenna has been an account officer serving Lorain County for three years. She’s worked in the agricultural industry for over 16 years with experience in livestock production, specialty crop production, seed production and processing/distribution. She grew up on a small family farm raising row crops and cattle. She currently has her own herd of beef cattle that she breeds and sells as show stock calves for 4-H and FFA members. At AgCredit, Brenna enjoys being able to work directly with the local farmers and especially helping young farmers achieve something that they didn’t think they could.
Host Libby Wixtead
Libby has been an account officer for seven years serving AgCredit members in Marion County. She grew up on a 200-acre grain farm and was very active in 4-H and FFA. Today, Libby and her husband operate a 2,400-head swine finishing barn. Her favorite thing about working at AgCredit is working with local farmers from the same area where she grew up and seeing their operations thrive. She loves working in agriculture and helping her customers be successful year after year.
Speaker 1 (00:03):Welcome to AgCredit Said It, the podcast for farm newbies and seasoned professionals alike. In each episode, our hosts sit down with experts from across the agriculture industry to bring you insights, advice, and must have information on all things rural living. From farming to finances and everything in between. So, let's get to it.
Brenna Finnegan (00:26):Welcome back to AgCredit Said It, Brenna and Libby here today with a little bit of a different type of an episode.
Libby Wixtead (00:33):Brenna, I'm super excited because this week February 19th through 26th is the FFA week. And we wanted to do an episode geared towards FFA students. Today we have a few special guests joining us. First, I'll be talking to Adam Cahill from the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State to talk about careers in ag. Then Brenna will be chatting with a few local farmers from her area about some lending programs for young and beginning farmers.
Brenna Finnegan (01:04):Before we jump in, let's talk a little bit about the FFA. At AgCredit, we support in a variety of ways. We sponsor the 110% award each year for all local FFA chapters. This award is given to students that have given 110% to their chapter throughout the school year.
Libby Wixtead (01:24):We love rewarding students that are going above and beyond for their chapter. Our branches and our corporate level, we also help with different career development events, we give presentations really on anything from finance to lending, to credit scores, anything that we can help the FFA out with. We love to support the students in volunteer activities and just be involved with their chapters. So Brenna, before we get started with our interviews, I want to know what was your favorite memory from being in FFA? Or memories?
Brenna Finnegan (02:02):Oh, gosh. I'd have a whole slew, but I think every year when we did this week for FFA week, we did each day, the school had something to do. Whether it was farmer day, so they dressed up as farmers and stuff and came to school. We did a petting zoo for the elementary school. So the kids from the elementary school would walk across the parking lot over to the high school shop, and everybody would bring in all different types of animals.
Brenna Finnegan (02:30):So I always loaded up the cattle and brought that in and had them there all day and that kind of thing. So that was always fun to see the little kids come walking through the shop and they got to see what the FFA was about kind of, so that was always fun. We always did the farm Olympics in the school gym. So the hay bale toss, or the straw toss, or whatever, and all sorts of stuff like that.
Brenna Finnegan (02:58):But of course there was always tractor day too. That was probably the biggest event. There were several times we were in the paper and all that kind of stuff, just because everybody drove their tractors to the school, so that was always entertaining.
Libby Wixtead (03:11):Absolutely. I think that's a lot people's memories.
Brenna Finnegan (03:15):Yes, exactly. So what did you do?
Libby Wixtead (03:19):During FFA week, we always did Ag Olympics too. And when I was in high school, we were... My group in my class, we were very competitive on different things that we did. And I know that our FFA today still has continued that tradition of having the Ag Olympics.
Libby Wixtead (03:36):One of my favorite memories was my very last time going to National Convention to get my American degree. I was also up as a finalist for the National Poultry Proficiency Award. And so that just seemed like a family award, and finally, at the last one of us three, we finally got to that stage and it was just a fun family celebration.
Libby Wixtead (03:57):The whole program of FFA, I just think is absolutely awesome and amazing, and having that impact on the students. I mean, even when I would go before I was in high school with my brothers doing their thing, I was just in awe of State Convention, and things like that, and just the impact that it had on the students. So I think you would agree, we love FFA. We will support it and AgCredit would do the same.
Libby Wixtead (04:23):All right, let's go ahead and get started with our interviews. And we'll start here with Adam Cahill. Welcome, Adam. We're happy to have you join us today. First off, can you tell us a little bit about your role at the university?
Adam Cahill (04:37):Sure. Thanks Libby. My name's Adam Cahill, I manage the career development office for the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the Ohio State University. Quite the mouthful there, but we do a lot of great work for students as a first and center point of our business, but we also work with a lot of other people. Alumni, employers, businesses, nonprofits, you name it, there's an organization and a group that the Career Development Office definitely does work with.
Adam Cahill (05:02):Because our main goal is to try to make sure students are well prepared for going out into the industry, and getting and gaining employment, or going to grad school or professional school. But we also want to work with our counterpart businesses, industry representatives so that they can find good employees and help, once again, keep the cycle of great careers within food, agricultural and environmental sciences moving forward.
Adam Cahill (05:24):Because ultimately we really are a backbone college industry that helps keep the world moving and we sustain life. That's what our Dean says all the time is "we sustain life" and that is definitely true with what we do and the Career Development Office does everything we can to try to help push that forward for all the students and employers we work with.
Libby Wixtead (05:43):Absolutely. I know that I'm a product of the college and your help as well, and even you've helped AgCredit find employees from your college as well. So, somebody told me that the college is known for just being an ag college and not having anything else to offer. Can you explain a little bit more and tell us what the College of Food, Ag, and Environmental Sciences truly is, other than just an ag school?
Adam Cahill (06:11):Oh yes. That's something we hear all the time and depending on when you potentially interacted with the college, you potentially have a different viewpoint of who we are and what we do. The College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, or what we sometimes call it CFAES, has a lot to offer.
Adam Cahill (06:29):Just in the name itself, food, agriculture, and environment, those are all the three major sciences we deal with, and everything that we do kind of falls into that. And we have careers galore across the board, and thankfully all the industries that we interact with are doing quite well. And we could never run out of students for all the different types of jobs that are out there for the industries that we support.
Adam Cahill (06:52):Everyone needs clean water, they need food to eat, they need shelter. They're looking to make sure they're educating themselves on what's going on in the environment. So all things that we cover within our college and it's exciting. And sometimes it's those things that people don't always think about, because they're thinking, oh, this is agriculture, they don't deal nothing with the food, they just grow the crops.
Adam Cahill (07:14):But no, we develop the food as well. The food scientists that are out there looking at how do I break down an allergen so that people who have that problem can then eat that and consume that food product? How do we take sustainability and make it something that can be used on every aspect of our life? So we can use less resources, be more productive, spend less money and get greater outputs?
Adam Cahill (07:35):All those various things that are some of the few and of many things that our college puts out there, that our students learn about, that our alumni then put into practice when they're out there in the industry and beyond.
Libby Wixtead (07:47):That is so exciting to hear all the different careers that are out there and within... I'm an alumni of Ohio State, like I said, to see what all is offered within our college that I didn't even know about. I'm curious of, if you can talk on what are some of the most popular career paths that people think when we are going through... When we think of CFAES.
Libby Wixtead (08:10):And then what are some of the unique career paths that some people don't think about? Especially kids that are in FFA, aren't your kids that are going back to the farmer right now. We have a lot of kids that are in leadership or from the city and, like you said, are looking at different career paths other than coming back to the farm.
Adam Cahill (08:29):Yeah. I love the word popular. Every program is popular to those that are in it. And it's one of those things that it also makes it very unique. And I love that word unique because every one of our majors is a unique major because the majority of the population may not think about it as a major that's in CFAES.
Adam Cahill (08:51):A great example of that is we have a construction systems management program. Most people are like, that's in your college? I'm like, well, yeah. It's not just working around an orange barrel. It's developing the project management, the estimating, doing the blueprints, it's managing people, products, resources, and that's a very unique program that we have that is oftentimes discovered by students after the fact. They've already started college and they don't start maybe into that program after a year or two.
Adam Cahill (09:18):And it also makes it a very popular program once it's found out about, and we've got dozens of those similar types of programs at not only a bachelor's level, but at an associate's degree level. And that's a bonus, again, another thing that makes us very unique and popular is that we do offer associate and bachelor's degrees.
Adam Cahill (09:35):Not to mention, graduate degrees, advanced degrees, etc. So no matter on what kind of program you're looking at, we're going to have something that relates to food, agriculture and environmental sciences. In general, our plant science programs that many students are taking biology classes anyways. You're in high school, you're in FFA, or 4-H, whatever that may be, you're going to take biology. We have plant science programs that are going to take that biology component and really put it to good work, that can make it very popular.
Adam Cahill (10:04):If you think about putting it to application for plants, I know your organization does a lot of work with farmers, people looking for various aspects of how they can grow their businesses. One way to do that is, do you know your products? Do you know the plant science behind it? And you guys help support them from another aspect of that.
Adam Cahill (10:20):So another big thing is sustainability. We have an environment, economy, development, sustainability major called EEDS. It is a very popular program. It's still relatively new. That's why a lot of people may not know about it, but it's students looking at how they can take environmental sustainability and put it to good practice, and not just for agriculture, but for all industry areas that are out there. And it's very unique, it's very different, but sustainability is a huge thing in our market right now.
Adam Cahill (10:48):And if we're going to be able to support the growing population of the world, that's going to have to become a forefront part of our ecosystem that we do have. And I can't go without saying, popular in terms of the numbers, our enrollment, animal science, agribusiness also very popular, just that a lot of students enroll in those programs. Business is everywhere, you guys are one of those. AgCredit hires a lot of our agribusiness students at both the associate and the bachelor's degree level.
Adam Cahill (11:14):So very important there, as well as then our animal science. So taking care of animals across the gamut there. Pre-veterinarian science, a big popular program there, that's probably one of our least unique because it has a lot of students in it. Everyone knows what a veterinarian is. It's one of those top careers that is out there. But animal science has so much more to offer than just the veterinary part because there's nutrition, there's animal care and handling, there's reproduction, across the board, we just have a lot to offer.
Adam Cahill (11:45):And the biggest thing we just try to get students to understand is that just getting out there and exploring and learning about these things is big. Culinary science, one of our newer programs, looking at, what is the science behind developing food products? You could be a person who's developing new menus for a food based company. What do those things look at from the nutrition side of things? That's where the culinary science degree can come into.
Adam Cahill (12:09):So, like I said, I can keep going on and on about all the various types of unique and cool careers. I've been in this role for quite a few years. And it helped a lot of students helped a lot of alumni with our career development team. And there's still new careers and job postings that get sent to us that we've never heard of, that are new emerging careers that are out there.
Adam Cahill (12:27):I know when I first started drones weren't really that very popular, even a thing. Now, drone jobs are very prevalent. There's a lot of job opportunities for being drone operators as another example. So, it's just one of those great things that because of the advancement of science and technology that our college and our industries get into, I don't think there's ever going to be a place where we can stop and say, "oh, these aren't going to be unique anymore" because we're always growing and we're always evolving.
Libby Wixtead (12:55):I think I can say for everybody, I think we all just learned something, because I definitely learned something about being an alumni, not knowing some of the majors and career paths that people could take within the college.
Libby Wixtead (13:05):One thing that I think the college does a great job of is once you get into a major and then there's so many classes that you can take from other classes or minors, and there's a lot that you get a taste of, and you get a lot of experience. Especially like... I was ag ed and then I switched to ag business. And just when I did that, it was like, oh wow, my world just opened up. I really can do just about any job in ag having that business background.
Libby Wixtead (13:34):And then having that minor to focus on a little bit more. But there are so many opportunities within our college. Are you guys still requiring students to... I guess maybe not requiring, but encouraging students to do internships? And do you see a lot of kids getting benefit out of those internships, and maybe seeing a different path that they want to take with having that on-job experience?
Adam Cahill (14:02):I'll definitely answer that. Don't think I didn't notice that little, get a taste of what all the programs are. So well done there, building in the taste piece there, we always love it when alumni can learn a little bit more, build in those nice little puns.
Adam Cahill (14:17):What was your question again? No, I'm just kidding. Internships. Yes. Our college is very unique. We're one of the few colleges that require our students to complete an internship to graduate, and that is still in place. So all of our students are going to graduate having completed an internship or some kind of a capstone project related to their program.
Adam Cahill (14:34):And that initially started up from industry feedback. When they say, "we want students with more experience, more background", and that's where our internship requirement really came into play there. And our students are graduating with that extra hands-on experiences that they're going to have related to their major program. And sometimes that can really help them solidify what they want to do. And sometimes it can really help them learn about, I want to take a little bit of a tangent and try something else.
Adam Cahill (15:01):And that's where, like you mentioned, that minor combination can come into play where I have a major, I have a minor, I've done an internship, maybe I did a study abroad somewhere. And all of these factors really come into play in helping them really mold what their career interests are, what they've explored, and we really, really are excited about how our students come out of those internship experiences. Many of them, and if not all of them, are going to have at least one, some are going to do two internships. We have some students that will do nine internships.
Libby Wixtead (15:29):Oh, wow.
Adam Cahill (15:30):I think that's the record from what I can recall over my time here is nine different experiences, and they didn't get credit for all of them I'm pretty sure. But they had nine different employments where they learned a new skill, networked, gained something that they didn't have before they could put to practice in their future careers.
Adam Cahill (15:46):And that's what we're really looking to get out of that internship experience is to have students learn, explore, and network so that they can become a better prepared student, worker, and citizen that they're going to be out there once they graduate.
Libby Wixtead (16:00):Networking. When you say networking, that is such a key piece. And then I think a lot of kids, students, will realize, and even business people how small the ag world really is when you realize, when you go out and network with people.
Libby Wixtead (16:14):Speaking of networking and going back down to the high school students and learning to network with some different people in different colleges and universities, what would be the best way for students who are interested in coming to CFAES, or I guess, going on to secondary school, what is the best way for them to learn about different careers and internships and how can they best prepare to come to the college?
Adam Cahill (16:47):Yeah, the good thing is that there are a lot of ways to make that happen depending on what kind of style of a learner you are. Going on the internet, searching the websites, careers in blank, food, science, agriculture, environments, that's a simple, easy beginning. Start there.
Adam Cahill (17:05):Another easy one is just talking to alumni who work in the industry. Folks like you that are going to be out there that have lived it themselves, that are working it, and just asking them questions. Another kind of very simple thing I say, go to your local county fair and just walk around and talk to people. Talk to the exhibitors, talk to the companies that are there, talk to the other youth that are showing an animal, presenting a project, doing a leadership speech, that are running for the royalty court.
Adam Cahill (17:34):All the various things that are out there, they've all have some kind of a connection or exposure to careers in food, agriculture, and environmental sciences, whether they know it or not. And that's a great way. Once again, it's very noncommittal. You're just having conversations, you're meeting people.
Adam Cahill (17:50):And I mentioned this kind of earlier, is that the high school biology test. Just take science classes in high school, physics, biology, chemistry, those are all foundational elements for careers in food, agricultural, and environmental sciences.
Adam Cahill (18:03):The next step is then just exploring, not just the standard, okay, I'll be an engineer, but I'm going to be maybe a food engineer and taking it one step further and exploring the different types of careers within food, agriculture, and environmental sciences. And another great way is to just connect to your college that's close to you and just do a visit.
Adam Cahill (18:21):We all have visit programs that are out there. Ours is called it Experience Ohio State For a Day, EOFD. So you just go out there and search Ohio State EOFD. You'll find a great way to come visit our program. Come for a day, you'll meet some faculty. Typically, someone from their career development team will be there to interact with you and answer questions.
Adam Cahill (18:40):And you're really going to just be on campus and explore careers. See what it's like to be a college student. And we have that at both our Columbus campus and at our associate degree campus up at the CFAES Wooster up at ATI. So once again, a lot of opportunities to get out there, explore, learn, network. It really just comes down to taking that first step and clicking on a website or just talking to somebody.
Libby Wixtead (19:04):I would 100% agree with you and just making sure you do that college visit, I think was definitely the winner for me. I was debating between The Ohio State University and Capital. And when I went to my college visits, definitely Ohio State captivated me and especially CFAES because it was a great experience.
Libby Wixtead (19:30):Well, Adam, I cannot thank you enough for joining us here for FFA week. We have learned, at least I have learned a lot and I hope our listeners have learned a lot and hopefully we'll get some more students to come down your way and have some careers... or go through the College of Food, Ag and Environmental Sciences, and then be the future in ag, in our agricultural industry. So thank you for being with us.
Adam Cahill (19:55):Yeah. So we definitely appreciate the time. And like I said, the biggest thing is just start that first step by asking some questions, checking us out. But we are always here to help and really help students explore what's out there. We could always take more students in food, agricultural, and environmental sciences.
Adam Cahill (20:09):I know the businesses and employers that I work with and the career team works with, we are always being asked for more and more people to hire. So come visit us, come learn more. And I said, you guys are doing a great job at AgCredit to help us make that mission, it really become a thing in helping educate students, 40 types of careers. And we really appreciate it. So once again, thank you for your time.
Libby Wixtead (20:30):Thank you.
Brenna Finnegan (20:31):Thanks Adam and Libby. It's Brenna here and I'm in Wakeman, Ohio at Matus Winery. I'm meeting today with two of AgCredit's young, beginning, small farmers, Hayden and Hunter Matus. Thank you guys both for joining us.
Hunter Matus (20:46):Thank you for having us.
Hayden Matus (20:47):Thanks for having us.
Brenna Finnegan (20:48):Why don't we go ahead and start with you guys just telling us a little bit about your operations and how you guys got started and everything. So Hunter, let's go ahead and start with you.
Hunter Matus (20:57):I'm Hunter Matus, I'm 26 years old. I farm alongside my brother, dad, and grandfather. I also own a custom cover crop application business, and I also work full time for a municipality in their water department.
Brenna Finnegan (21:14):Okay. Hayden, why don't you go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and your operation.
Hayden Matus (21:18):Well, I'm Hayden Matus, I'm 21 years old. Farm alongside my dad, my brother and my grandfather. Suppose I work full-time job. I also sell seed, continue working on the malting company, I guess that's about it.
Brenna Finnegan (21:35):Go ahead and tell us a little bit about your malting. How did you get into that?
Hayden Matus (21:40):So with the malting, my dad, my brother, and I, back in 2013, my dad got a wild hair and wanted to grow barley for the brewing industry. We started making it in plastic cups in the back room of the winery and well, it just kind of blew up from there.
Hayden Matus (21:58):And we tore... In 2000 and, I guess the following summer in 2014, we tore apart my grandparents' barn, just started building equipment. We didn't know what we were doing. Just kind of got thrown to the wolves and fortunately we were all kind of handy when it comes to different things. Like Hunters, electrical, I like building stuff. Dad's like a Jack of all trades.
Hunter Matus (22:24):It's just been a whole erector set over the years, trial and error and tinkering and constructing.
Hayden Matus (22:31):Yep. And we've gotten... it's been a long, hard process, but as we've grown in that business, and every day we're still working on it, there's still processes that we're learning. I guess there's no golden bullet and there ain't no book out there that's going to teach you unless you get your hands in on it and I guess start doing it.
Brenna Finnegan (22:54):You guys are just like your dad.
Hunter Matus (22:57):We hear that all the time.
Brenna Finnegan (22:57):That's how he started the winery, right?
Hayden Matus (23:01):Yep.
Brenna Finnegan (23:02):Just kind of playing around and getting going and coming up with stuff and you guys have always been like that. I've known you guys since you guys were little. So it's kind of an evolvement to see you guys grow into what you guys are doing now.
Brenna Finnegan (23:15):So let's go ahead and move into a couple other questions we've got for you guys. What are some things that helped get you started with your own individual operations?
Hayden Matus (23:24):We had a good start growing up. Grandpa was... He farmed for years.
Hunter Matus (23:31):Grandpa's farmed since he was 14 years old and really instilled the passion in us boys, I think at a young age.
Hayden Matus (23:40):Yeah. He's always every day calling us to tell us what grain prices are. After 7:00AM I see him anyway and he still has the drive for it. He don't leave around home much. He doesn't drive, he's on his Gator and he's always checking in on us and making sure we are doing everything that we can to be successful around the farm.
Hayden Matus (24:01):My dad has just been extremely busy with this winery ever since 2006. And he has been a huge help as well. He is always on top of it, sun's out, let's go. It's time to get to the fields.
Brenna Finnegan (24:17):He gets after you guys?
Hayden Matus (24:18):Oh yeah, all the time.
Hunter Matus (24:19):Oh yeah.
Hayden Matus (24:22):Out here we're surrounded by family, which is nothing short of a blessing. And when everyone's around, everybody's got your back and they always make sure that we're taken care of as in the sense of…
Hunter Matus (24:38):Well, do we got parts? Do, I mean, that's huge…
Hayden Matus (24:41):Grandma will cook, our aunt Pam will follow us around with her leaf blower as we're cleaning the barn.
Hunter Matus (24:49):Cleaning equipment.
Hayden Matus (24:50):Cleaning equipment. And we'll hear about it. If there's something sitting outside in grandma's yard, it's got to get in that barn. So we're pretty used to being surrounded by family. Not everybody can do it. It's just takes... You kind of got to humble yourself and appreciate with everything you're surrounded with.
Brenna Finnegan (25:11):Can never have too much family around.
Hayden Matus (25:12):That's for sure.
Brenna Finnegan (25:13):Especially when you're starting out and getting going in a farming operation and stuff. So in addition to the family support and all that kind of stuff, you guys both have financed your farms in two very different ways. Let's start with Hunter. You went solely through FSA, which is the Farm Service Agency, correct?
Hunter Matus (25:38):Yes, that's correct.
Brenna Finnegan (25:40):How did that all work for you in helping you?
Hunter Matus (26:24):They say the things that you want the most happen when it's least expected, and it kind of just dawned on me like a ton of bricks. And over time, I didn't want to say anything to anybody and I kind of just stepped out. Didn't ask for validation from anyone, didn't ask for anyone's approval.
Hunter Matus (26:10):I just did it, and I figured it out, and I talked to people at AgCredit and the Farm Service Agency, and the route that I did go was through the Farm Service Agency. They offered a great young startup farmer program, great interest rate. And it just so happened that everything moved in a timely manner.
Hunter Matus (26:32):The support I had from them in the office was phenomenal. It made it easy for me. And I learned a lot of new things when it comes to paperwork and taxes and everything in that realm, but it was stressful at the time. But once again, it was just a blessing that came to.
Brenna Finnegan (26:55):Now, Hayden, your program was a little bit different.
Hayden Matus (27:00):I use the AgStart program, which was a 50/50 loan between AgCredit and FSA. And it was two loans that make up one through two different agencies. And the benefits of that was just a lower down payment, lower interest rates, it just worked out and it seemed like it was going to be my best option in my shoes. And my payment structure was pretty flexible, if I wanted to make monthly payments or a yearly payment, that was very flexible and I really liked that.
renna Finnegan (27:35):Additional benefits of the AgStart program through AgCredit is extended terms, and also the lower fees, which in your case really helped out as well.
Hayden Matus (27:43):A lot.
Brenna Finnegan (27:45):So as young beginning small farmers, anything that you wish you knew before you got started on your own operation? Or what kind of caught you off guard starting your own operation?
Hunter Matus (27:57):How much paperwork was involved and how to do that paperwork.
Hayden Matus (28:04):Watch your numbers like a hawk and always have faith in God. I mean, that works for us. Embrace opportunity. You can't be afraid of trying new things, kind of just grabbing the bull by the horns. Humble yourself and let go of the ego and just kind of go with the flow and trust and have that faith.
Hunter Matus (28:25):Work hard. Don't ever turn down an opportunity, and always listen to the elders in the community when it comes to farming because you can learn a lot. There's a lot of people in our neighborhood that have a lot of knowledge, and they're willing to share it if you show the initiative to go to them and say, "hey, I'm screwing up or I'm doing this wrong or what can I do here? How can I do this?"
Hunter Matus (28:50):That's huge and that's... I guess I didn't really ever look at it in the aspect until I bought a farm and just kind of knew that I had to do this stuff. And you got to take care or you got to take the opportunity of the resources that are in front of you. And I've been fortunate, I have a grandfather who's been farming for a very long time. I've got neighbors that help us out if we ever run into a problem.
Hunter Matus (29:18):That was a big eye opener to me. I always thought I should be able to keep farming and when you really got to watch your bottom line and keep a good eye on your numbers. You take a lot of stuff that these guys talked to you about and they brought it up in the past and you just never really thought about it. And that was the biggest eye opener to me, was learning how to do the paperwork and making the right decisions at the right time. And that was huge.
Brenna Finnegan (29:50):So what have you learned, going through all that paperwork?
Hunter Matus (29:54):That I don't like paperwork.
Brenna Finnegan (29:57):But as far as like the details that you need to know. I know we've sat down and done your size and scale, and projections, and planning everything. So was that anything that you guys expected as young farmers out there? Or was it just, I want to jump in a tractor and get going and get a farm?
Hayden Matus (30:18):It's a lot more than just jumping in a tractor.
Hunter Matus (30:21):I think that a lot of people look at farming as, oh, you're just going to jump in a tractor and drive around the field. And oh, look at me, I'm driving a big new John Deere tractor. It ain't like that.
Hayden Matus (30:32):It's about bottom line. New paint is not always the best thing, use what you have, collect resources, try to get as, the best equipment you can for the price you can afford.
Hunter Matus (30:40):I guess my mindset is if that tractor will pull something, pull a planter across field, or pull a sprayer across the field, I don't care if it's green, red, purple, blue. It could be any color out there as long as it gets a job done. And it ain't sitting in the shop broken, then that's huge.
Hayden Matus (31:05):Well, another thing that I learned was you have to learn how to control your stress. Because if you get too wrapped up in your head, you make irrational decisions and you just have to kind of feel when the time's right, the time's right. And if something goes wrong, you kind of got to take a step back and evaluate what's going on.
Hayden Matus (31:25):Because if you go in like a maniac, bad things could happen and it's happened here. This place is kind of a... It can be a pool of stress at times, which is, I mean, that's with any business. We had a bunch of stuff going on around here, and learning how to grasp and take control of a situation that you don't feel like you have control over.
Brenna Finnegan (31:48):So it's a lot of trial and error along the way as well, trusting your gut?
Hayden Matus (31:54):A lot of trial and error. You kind of have to trust your intuition and go with it. It's once you're in it, you're in it. It's a love for it, you have to love it, and you have to want it. No matter what happens, it's the passion. It's the passion. Me and him both have it. It's instilled in us.
Brenna Finnegan (32:19):Knowing the family, you guys have shown the epitome of that kind of passion for this industry and what you're doing, wanting to be better at it, and all that kind of stuff. I mean, I sat down with you guys many times and to hear you guys talk about the next plan, and what you want to do next, and all that kind of stuff. It's like, you guys have these major goals in mind.
Hayden Matus (32:42):Strategic chaos.
Brenna Finnegan (32:45):Pretty much, right? But you guys know that you have something that you want to achieve and you guys have the ambition and the knowledge in your back pocket from community members, your grandpa, your dad, all that kind of stuff. And you're just kind of really moving forward in a really good direction as far as what you guys want to do and grow.
Hayden Matus (33:09):You have to have a plan and you got to stick to that plan.
Brenna Finnegan (33:13):Well, I want to thank you guys, both for joining us today. I appreciate you guys giving additional insight to young, beginning, small farmers out there and going through the AgStart program and using the Farm Service Agency and using your resources to the best of your ability to make things work for yourselves.
Hayden Matus (33:34):One thing I can add into this is don't ever feel intimidated. It can be intimidating at times, but to be successful, you got to take a chance and you can't be intimidated. Because after all, this isn't the easiest career in the world. If you put your mind to anything, you can do anything and having good resources, such as a good lender and good people to surround yourself with is huge. So don't ever feel intimidated, it's doable. Don't ever let anyone tell you it ain't doable neither.
Brenna Finnegan (34:10):Well that wraps up another episode of AgCredit Said It. if you like what you're hearing, please leave us a review and tell your friends about us. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with topics you'd like to hear. Thanks, and we'll see you next time.
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