Farmer Profile: Reid Bowen

     WE ARE PLEASED to introduce you to our friend, Reid Bowen, a YOUNG FARMER in southern Idaho.  TheCitySlicker and I know the Bowen family from our time at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

Tell us about your family:

My Name is Reid Bowen and my wife is Lacy. We have three kids Wyatt, 3, Taylor, 2 and Rylan, 3 weeks.  Lacy helps me with the bookkeeping. I do all of the farming. I am helped out by my uncle Kerry  who lets use his machinery and I was helped out a lot by my younger brother Ryan till he passed away this last December. I also have a partner whom I farm some beans with.

Getting ready to plow the field and give Rylan his first tractor ride!

Where do you live, what is your farm’s name?
I farm in the high desert of Southern Idaho. More particularly the Mini-Cassia area. The farm’s name is simple: Reid Bowen Farms.

How long have you been farming?

I am the 5th generation in my family to have farmed in this area. My second great grandpa Banner came to Burley and started to farm there.  But each of my grandpas have farmed in Idaho or Utah. I have farmed for 15 years working for my uncles. The last three years I have farmed on my own.

Why did you become a farmer?

 I have loved farming from the time I was a young child. At the age of two my father bought me a toy tractor. It seemed from that time on I have wanted to farm. It is something that gets inside of you unlike anything else.

Out in the corn field

What type of crops do you grow? What type of farming (irrigated, organic, dryland, etc.)?

Everything I farm is under sprinkler irrigation.  Being from Idaho everyone thinks that I should raise potatoes, but I don’t and have no desire to. The main crop I raise is small red and pinto beans, which this year I will raise about 142 acres of.  The beans are sold to a processor for canning, bagging or seed.  Along with the beans I also raise 92 acres of corn, 29 acres of wheat and 15 acres of hay. The corn is grown for silage that is fed to dairy cattle. The wheat is soft white which is sold to be milled in Ogden, Utah for flour to be used in cakes and cookies. Lastly the hay is fed to my father-in-law’s horses.

Tell us about your operation.

It is a small, young operation. It started on with 20 acres of beans two years ago. The farm has grown this year to be 278 acres.

Do you use any sustainable practices? 

I have highly erodible soil so I use strip tillage. This is the practice of tilling just a little strip of ground to plant the seed into. You then leave the rest of the soil and the residue untouched. In doing so I reduce wind erosion of the soil. As we till the soil we put down fertilizer right in the root zone. This helps to cut down on the amount of fertilizer that is needed.

Tell us something interesting, cutting-edge, fascinating, that you would like readers to know! 
Idaho is the number one producer of potatoes and barley, the third largest dairy and sugar beet producing state and is the fifth in production of dry beans.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a farmer?

The public not understanding agriculture. It seems that more and more people attack conventional agriculture. Often the biggest problem is they don’t understand agriculture at all. It once was that everyone knew a farmer. Now days fewer and fewer people really know what goes into farming, but they are sure going to tell you that they know what is happening.

Bean field in early July

What are farming’s biggest rewards for you?

The biggest rewards have been being able to be with my family. In the last 19 years I’ve spent a great deal of time hoeing sugar beets and moving water with my brothers. I’ve also spent a lot of time with my father driving tractor until 2 in the morning. During this time we’ve had a lot of great conversations.

Are there any stories about farming that you’d like to share?
 Because I have always wanted to farm from a very young age I was always out on the farm. With being out on the farm all the time I thought at the age of two or three that I could run the machinery. So one time when my Grandfather stepped out of the corn chopper he left me in the machine with it running. A big mistake. As he was out, I decide to chop the corn. I took off with no one to stop me. I was the happiest three year old in the world. At the same time my grandpa was the most scared grandfather in the world. He ran after the chopper, slipping on the knocked down corn. But he was able to stop the machine just before going onto the next field.

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