Young Farmer and Rancher Finalists

Young Farmer and Rancher Finalists

June 14, 2016

Story provided by the Louisiana Farm Bureau.

Working around the weather is a common practice for farmers, including Louisiana's Ryan and Danielle Yerby, who are finalists for the 2016 Louisiana Farm Bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award.

“Well its really gone from one extreme to the other," said Ryan Yerby. "We went from drought conditions over the summer two years ago. Then the flooding over last summer and here just this past spring we got an early flood where it put several hundred acres that we farm under water.” 

His wife Danielle agreed. “The last few years have been, my goodness — the easiest word to think of is just been scary, just rocky, just a lot of unknown. Like any other business gambles with customers or whatnot, you know we gamble with Mother Nature — we gamble with markets.”

The combination of bad weather and down markets have hit the Yerby farm hard in the last few years. 

“Well, last year naturally with the commodity prices being down, that we took a huge hit on that. But with the flooding early on, then getting into a drought stage after that, we had pretty substantial yield loss on top of it. Financially, it really kinda — it scared us,” said Ryan. 

Ryan and Danielle knew that it would take a new approach the farming for them to stay in business. “We really had to adapt the way that we farm as a whole. Trying to save money on fuel — save money on labor — save money on inputs. Just making those kinds of finite changes is what actually kept us in the game and come back at it again this year,” explained Ryan.

That work on the time off means Ryan and Danielle find themselves in the field together handling many day-to-day chores on the farm. The Yerby family are also utilizing new technology to get a better view of his fields from above. With his drone, Ryan can assess his crop in a whole new way. “I can actually instead of being on the ground I can sit there and see it from the sky and see exactly where we need to go.”

While this new technology and changing farm practices help their bottom line, this only gets the Yerby farm so far. The rest comes from their faith. Ryan said, “There’s not a farmer out there that doesn’t farm on faith. You’ve gotta have faith that it's going — we’re gonna make this.”

When it's hard to have that faith, the young couple is driven to succeed by their three-year-old, Reagan. “She is our pride and joy," beams Danielle. "And to know that she can — at three years old — can tell you the difference between a combine and a sprayer and a track-hoe, and those are heifers but those are bulls, you know. That’s the whole reason we’re doing it.”

Ryan said, “Really, watching her grow up on the farm is why we work so hard to keep going. Watching her go outside and look at the cows or going down the end of the field and, ‘Daddy, look at the corn! Look at the soybeans, daddy!’ It's like the farm is already growing inside of her. And that’s kinda our driving of why we do this.”

Over the last few years, Ryan and Danielle Yerby have faced a lot of adversity on their farm. While they've battled everything from mother nature to grain markets, the Yerby family have overcome it all and continue to thrive as a young farm family.

The winner of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award will receive a $40,000 credit toward the purchase of the GM vehicle of their choice. They will also go on to compete at the American Farm Bureau Convention this January in Phoenix, Arizona.

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