New Master Farmers Know How to Survive Ag’s Tough Times


Kretzmeier and Bell Master Farmers

There is a new class of Indiana Master Farmers, and they were honored at the annual banquet, this year held in Delphi in Carroll County. Whatever their background and regardless of their total years on the farm, Master Farmers are always humbled by the recognition.

“I’m not sure if I’m really qualified but I’m still getting the award I guess,” said Denny Bell, a corn and soybean farmer in Terre Haute. “You always think of the mistakes you make. You don’t think of all the good things you do.”

Bell and the others offer sage advice about getting through the hard times in ag.

“I kind of struggled farming in the 80’s and had to get out,” he explained. “I got back in the 90’s so I kind of redeemed myself I guess. You can’t run before you crawl and you might not be able to run the best equipment. Up until several years ago I ran an old 1983 tractor. I don’t now luckily, but I ran an old tractor just trying to get going in farming.”

John Kretzmeier farms in Fowler located in Benton County. He cautions young farmers that there is a lot of hard work getting from point A to point B, but he says map out those points as part of high goals and aspirations.

“You have to make concessions and sacrifice and compromise,” he told HAT. “You’re not always going to have a brand new, shiny pickup or a brand new tractor. You’re going to have to exchange some labor and hard work maybe for some of the equipment or resources, and it’s a process. But one way or another, if your heart and mind is in it, it will work out.”

John and his wife Kristi were honored as Master Farmers after starting from scratch after they were married.

“That was back in 1990 when we first married. John had farmed one year prior to that helping out trading labor for equipment with a neighboring farmer he had worked with through high school and college. When we started farming on our own each of us worked side jobs, so for the first nine years of our farming career we earned our family living doing side jobs. We were able to turn all of our farm income back into the farm.”

Hear more in the HAT interviews with Bell and the Kretzmeiers:Denny Bell 2017 Master FarmerJohn and Kristi Kretzmeier 2017 Master Farmers

Meet the other winners, Stan Poe and Larry Holscher tomorrow.

(pictured L-R: Lonnie Mason, honorary winner, John and Kristi Kretzmeier, Stan Poe, Denny Bell and Larry Holscher)