Jim Farris, Vincennes, IN, has operated a Pioneer dealership from his farm for the past 10 years. Over that time, he has seen plenty of change in the seed business, “When I started, I was selling only two varieties of soybeans. Today we have Xtend varieties, Roundup resistant varieties, Liberty resistant varieties, and non-GMO varieties. Yes, things have certainly changed.”
Farris told HAT, as corn and soybean prices have declined in the past few years, his business has not suffered significantly, “The varieties we put out might not be the cheapest, but my customers can trust the Pioneer genetics and know these seeds will perform in a variety of different situations.” Farris did say the demand for non-GMO seed has increased in the past few seasons.
As for the future with the merger of Dow and DuPont becoming a reality, Farris is optimistic about his business and the seed industry in general, “I think we are going to okay here locally. In fact, we may even get another agronomist hired that will improve service to farmers. From what I have seen so far, it all looks favorable.” Farris was recently honored as a Master Farmer by Purdue and Prairie Farmer.
In a Prairie Farmer interview, Farris said hard work and diversification are the keys to making it through tough economic times. “My dad, Joe, made it through the 1980s and put five of us through college, too,” Farris said. “We had all kinds of crops, most of which required hand labor. I learned the value of hard work and of diversification. We always had several sources of income.”
Today, the Farrises’ son, Jacob, is involved in both farming and the seed business. “Jacob manages the seed warehouse here on the farm,” Farris explained. “We started with three bulk bins for soybeans. The trend is moving quickly toward bulk soybeans. One advantage is that we can treat them as the customer wants before he picks them up.”
Farris invested in sophisticated equipment to treat soybeans. He can add a variety of treatments to match what the customer needs, depending upon where the soybeans will be planted. Soybean treatment has become a big part of what Farris does during the spring, when customers are ready to pick up their seed beans. Farris also spends time working with customers year-round. The business provides a full suite of services and products offered by Pioneer.