Brian Chatham

What inspires farmers and why is their job so important? Brian Chatham explains:

Why did you want to be a farmer?  

I grew up working cattle and tobacco for both grandfathers. My parents didn’t farm. 13 years ago, I began an unusual tract back to farming. I obtained a B.S. in wildlife management and began working on farms managing deer, turkeys, waterfowl and upland birds. I was basically farming for wildlife. However, we were also growing crops and I was often working hand in hand with crop managers. I took that knowledge and started farming myself. I love it, every day is a new set of challenges and Its very rewarding to me.

What crops do you grow?

I grow, corn, soybeans, all kinds of small grains, pumpkins and winter squash (more than 100 varieties) and 30 types of market vegetables.

What impact do pests and disease have on your crops?

Because we have such a diverse pool of crops, I face just about every type of disease and pest known to exist in my part of the world. They have massive implications, driving up production costs and sometimes inhibiting yields.  Striped cucumber beetles just about decimated a crop of winter squash during one summer. I nearly lost 25 acres worth, of which 65% is used for food processing.

I also lost an entire field of grain corn to anthracnose.  The field usually yielded 165 bushels per acre.  That was almost a $30,000 USD loss. The field went down so quickly, it could not be salvaged.

In general, how important is it to have access to crop protection products?  

If not for crop protection products, I would lose all my crops.

Why is your profession important in the challenge to feed the world?

We are the caretakers of the land. Farming is bar-none the most critical job on the planet. If 7 billion people cannot eat, then we all die.

What inspires you about your job?

Being outside, seeing the hard work and great yields is so awesome. I love watching the crops grow and mature, being able to sell them to a customer and seeing them happy is so rewarding.