Ryan and Misty Bivens of LaRue County were honored as Kentucky Farm Bureau’s 2012 “Outstanding Young Farm Family” during the organization’s 93rd annual meeting in Louisville. Each year KFB awards this distinction to a couple under age 35 who has exhibited the strongest farm management skills, most consistent financial growth and highest level of involvement in both Farm Bureau and their community.
In addition to receiving statewide recognition, the Bivens won a Case IH Scout courtesy of KFB Insurance and Case IH, an Apple iPad2 from Republic Bank & Trust, $1,000 cash from Premier Crop Insurance, a $750 Dyna-Gro seed voucher from Crop Production Services, a $500 voucher from Southern States Cooperative, a portable handgun safe from Misty Morn Safe Company, and a voucher for 16 bags of seed corn from Pioneer Seed. They also received an expense-paid trip to compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national young farmer contest next month in Nashville, Tenn.
The Bivens are first-generation farmers in LaRue County, raising corn, soybeans, wheat, grass hay, alfalfa, and 26 head of commercial beef cattle on a total of about 6,000 acres.
Ryan grew up working on neighboring farms and Misty was raised on a beef cattle and tobacco farm, but both admit they discovered their passion for agriculture as they launched FFA projects in high school.
After graduating from college, Misty landed a job as a high school agriculture teacher, taking them to their new home in LaRue County and providing them with an opportunity to establish a family farm of their own.
Today the Bivens share many of the owner-based decisions on their farm – capital investments, employee management and long-range planning – but also have individualized roles. Ryan oversees the day-to-day operations of input purchases, field operations, financing and marketing while Misty facilitates the farm’s public relations and social media efforts.
“From our experience as first generation farmers we know that it takes lots of hard work, determination and a strong plan to make it in production agriculture,” said Ryan. “We have not walked into an established operation, inherited a family operation, or won the lottery. Everything we currently have has been purchased and acquired as a team.”
Since starting their farm in 2002, the Bivens have worked diligently to expand their production capabilities. They have grown the farm’s size from its initial 1,000 acres to today’s 5,753 acres, increased grain storage capacity to 265,000 bushels, and constructed a 17,200-square-foot building that serves as their base of operations with offices, shop space and equipment storage area.
The Bivens aren’t done yet. Among their most ambitious projects for the near future, they plan to continue increasing the amount of land they directly own to 1,000 acres, expanding their grain storage capacity to 600,000 bushels, and, with one of their business partners, building and operating a 4,000-cow dairy facility – an operation that would be three times larger than any other dairy in the state.
“This project will not only impact us, but our whole regional economy,” said Ryan. “It will employ 50 full-time employees and because of our great location … it will be built to accommodate school and tour groups.”
Outside of life on the farm, both have served as past president of LaRue County Farm Bureau, and both have served in numerous other leadership positions during their time on the board of directors.
Ryan additionally served a year as the chair of the KFB Young Farmer Advisory Committee and a State Director. He currently serves as vice president of the Kentucky Soybean Association board of directors and he is a leader or member of numerous other ag and civic organizations. Misty was inducted into Kentucky’s High School Ag Teacher Hall of Fame, twice named Regional Ag Teacher of the Year, and also volunteers her time to serve and lead in numerous other organizations. The Bivens have also won the KFB Excellence in Agriculture award, each captured first place in the KFB Discussion Meet, and just last year were honored with one of only five of “America’s Best Young Farmer” awards by DTN/Progressive Farmer.
“We must brag on the fact that we have surrounded ourselves with an excellent group of people, and because of that we have been successful,” concluded Ryan.
KFB’s second place distinction went to Michael and Jill Harton of Christian County. The third place winners were Bruce and Charissa Wade of Mercer County.