30 Days of Farms & Families: The Halpins

My Generation

Day 27: Scott and Sarah Halpin raise corn and cows in Grundy County. See what they have to say about farmers and heart surgeons in today's post.

Published on: November 27, 2011

This is beginning to sound repetitive, but it's true: we met Scott and Sarah Halpin when we were all on the Young Leader committee together! I'm sorry; I hope you're not sick of hearing that. If nothing else, take it as evidence that this committee gig is a great place to meet some wonderful people and make friends for life.

(By the way, I occasionally hear from groups of farm families of various age groups who met either through this committee or through the Jaycees young farmer program of several years back. They get together year in and year out, with some now attending each other's children's weddings. I see this being us, just a few years down the road.)

And friends, indeed. It was not so long ago when Sarah and I pushed strollers around the Illinois Farm Bureau meeting, pacifying our first tiny infants. Before long, we were entertaining toddlers at the Young Leader Conference. Fast-forward a few more years, and we were standing on stage together at the IFB Annual Meeting, as finalists in the young farmer Achievement Award contest. To look around on stage and realize we were sharing that stage with Scott and Sarah was a real honor in itself.

Illinois farm family

Today, Scott and Sarah are parents to Ty, 10, Grace, 8, and Cale, 5, and live near Gardner, in Grundy County. They raise corn, soybeans and hay, in addition to operating beef and dairy herds with Scott's parents, Frank and Deb, and his brother, Chris, and wife Julie. Sarah's role on the farm is much like the rest of us at this point in our lives: keep the kids in motion, take meals to the field. She also cares for their calves and handles the farm bookwork, which is no small task.

Scott also holds a seat on the Illinois Agricultural Association board of directors, which is the governing body for the Illinois Farm Bureau and its affiliated companies and organizations. This, too, is no small feat. He was one of the first to be elected at such a young age, and the position is effectively, similar to that of a part-time job given all the time it requires. In many ways, Scott reminds me of some of the Master Farmers I interview, in that he has a desire to work with farm groups and to give back in some way.

Back home, however, he sees the price swings in commodity markets as having a direct relationship with input prices…and therefore land and rental prices…and therefore (again), risk. Yikes. It's like Brad Smith said a few days ago: we are handling some very large income and expense numbers and as all those numbers go up, the risk is exponentially higher.

Off the farm, he's not surprised about agricultural inaccuracies.

"I compare it to myself trying to tell a heart surgeon how to do his job. I know nothing about what he does and until I need his services, I probably don't think about it," Scott explains.

"The difference is, everyone does think about food everyday and most don't understand how we farm. We need to take those opportunities to engage in a conversation with people about how we raise our crops.

"People are only going to be influenced by what they read, see and hear about farming. It is our job to share our experiences with them."

30 Days of Farm & Families
Day 1: The Webels
Day 2: The Mies Family
Day 3: The Thomases
Day 4: The Stewarts
Day 5: The Weavers
Day 6: The Hawkinsons
Day 7: The Kortes
Day 8: The Walters
Day 9: The Schillings
Day 10: The Martins
Day 11: The Pratts
Day 12: The Bowmans
Day 13: The Pollards
Day 14: The Wachtels
Day 15: The Strodes
Day 16: The Buntings
Day 17: The Andras Family
Day 18: The Liefers
Day 19: The Purvis Family
Day 20: The Jones Family
Day 21: The Smith Family
Day 22: The Buhrows
Day 23: The Elmores
Day 24: The O'Briens
Day 25: Sean Arians
Day 26: The Bremmers