Focus on ag economics – Farm Progress

by | Mar 15, 2022 | Financial

A visit to Mark Mueller’s farm office near Waverly, Iowa, is a kind of eye-opener. From an issue of The Economist on his desk to the book-filled shelves, it’s apparent Mueller is a lifelong learner. He and his wife, Jeri, are fourth-generation farmers building for the future. And for Mueller, that involves being open to new opportunities.

Mueller raises diverse crops for the area, including specialty soybeans for Japanese consumers, corn and alfalfa for a local 600-cow dairy, ryegrass for cover crop seed — and even a special corn used by racing pigeons. He’s converted the farm to no-till and is concerned about soil health on his farm.

Those books also show Mueller is a student of history. “We could raise anything here 100 years ago,” Mueller says. “The land around this house at one time had sugarbeets on it, and there was a sugarbeet factory in Waverly.”

TRUSTY TRUCK: This vintage Dodge Power Wagon runs great and is still used around the farm. Mueller has had it restored and painted the appropriate colors for an Iowa State grad.

He notes that his grandfather used to drive a team of horses pulling a wagon taking beets to the local processor in Waverly. “We could raise sugarbeets here today, but the nearest processor is 250 miles away in Minnesota somewhere,” he says. “We can grow anything here, but economics pushes us toward corn and soybeans and the animals that eat those things.”

Economics weigh in on those farm decisions. Take that ryegrass seed, for e …

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