Mike Lee steers his plane over the Missouri-Arkansas state line, checking out a checkerboard of green and brown fields of rice, cotton, corn and soybeans. Lee is the owner of Earlâs Flying Service, a crop dusting business in Steele, Mo., and heâs scouting some farm fields that his pilots will treat later in the day.
Grant Curtis remembers the day he went shopping for his first tractor.
âIt was an eye opening experience,â he said. âWalking into a dealership, getting the prices, walking back to the bank and pleading my case. Saying, âI want to get back to the farm, but I need a way to do that.ââ
Curtis, in his early twenties at the time and without farmland of his own, joked that the only thing he offered as collateral was sweat. But grain farming is a seriously expensive business.
Bear Creek Dairy in Brooklyn, Iowa, is home to more than 1,100 cows, who provide about 100,000 pounds of milk each day. The 15-year-old farmer who works closely with the farmâs calves comes from a long line of dairymen â in Europe.
Five years ago, Teun Boelenâs parents sold their farm in the Netherlands and bought a dairy in southeast Iowa because, as his mother explains it, there was no room for their old farm to grow.Â Â