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Matt Adams, 24, has had farming on his mind a long time. He didn’t grow up living on a farm but spent a lot of his childhood and youth on the farm.
His family moved to Upton from Eastern Kentucky. They were dairy farmers before he was born. After arriving in Upton, they did not know anyone and were, in a way, adopted as family of local farmer Paul Avery. He had children around the age of Adams’ parents but they all lived out of state.
Adams spent a lot of time on Avery’s farm. In his youth he was involved in 4-H and showed cattle that were housed on Avery’s farm. Avery became an adopted grandpa to Adams.
Adams helped Avery on the farm and was involved in Future Farmers of America in high school. His senior year he got his first big farming experience when he had a co-op experience on David Pepper’s farm.
Adams later went to Western Kentucky University to study agriculture. He wanted to farm full time but wasn’t sure if that would be possible. Six months before graduation he realized full-time farming wasn’t going to happen at that point and he started looking at other options.
“I always had in the back of my mind that if I couldn’t farm full-time myself I wanted to be able to help farmers, help the agriculture industry and help other people farm,” he said.
About the same time, an agriculture agent position opened at the Hardin County Cooperative Extension office. He graduated in May 2010 and began working as in interim agriculture assistant. The day he started that position, the agent position was posted. He applied and began working as an agriculture agent in October 2010.
When he was in college, he also partnered with Avery on the farm, buying half the cow herd and managing the farm. Avery passed away the December before Adams graduated and stressed to his children that Adams have the opportunity to purchase the farm.
Adams now farms cattle, alfalfa hay and some corn and soybeans along with his job as an agriculture agent.
For Adams, farming is in his blood.
“It’s something you have a passion for that you really can’t explain,” he said.
He likes the opportunity to see things grow, produce food and raise cattle and livestock. He has a group of heifers he raised from calves and has watched them grow every step of the process until he’s seen them come full circle and some are now calving.
“You are first hand in being able to take care of what God’s blessed us with,” he said. “I’m blessed to be able to do that when I’m at home on the weekends on the farm and be able to go to work on Monday morning and still be able to work with farming.”
As an agent Adams likes that when someone comes in with a problem he can help them find a solution that can sometimes help them save their farm that year. He also has people he’s looked up to in farming ask his advice on what the university recommends.
Those farmers he’s looked up to are part of the reason Hardin County has had a surge in young farmers, Adams said.
“I think a whole lot of it is the role models that we have in the agriculture community here,” he said. “There are several older farmers that really enjoy working with young farmers and encouraging young farmers.”
The agriculture economy is also better than in the past. A young man can come back to the farm and make a decent living at it today, he said.
Hardin County also has strong young farmer programs and a strong Farm Bureau, Adams said. He is involved in both the Young Farmers Association and the KFB Young Farmers.
Both groups help young farmers across the state, all going through the same things in farming, network to learn things and share ideas.
It can sometimes be hard for young farmers to get started when they didn’t grow up on a family farm or have a connection like he did, he said. It’s hard to find land to buy or lease.
“The Lord placed him (Avery) in my life to give me a foot in the door and a way to get started,” Adams said.
Farming life has its rewards but also has its challenges.
“Not every day is sunshine and roses,” he said.
Some days he’s asked himself if farming is what he wants to do the rest of his life, but God never fails to send him a message the next day that reminds him why he does it and the doubt doesn’t stay in his mind long, he said.
He once worked for a man who told him that starting out is tough —you’re going to have older equipment, stuff is going to break and things will go wrong. It won’t all go smoothly, the man said, you just have to get through it and at the end you’ll know it was all worth it.
“Don’t give up no matter what you’re doing whether it’s agriculture and farming or whatever you do in life,” he said. “We have challenges placed in front of us for a reason that kind of test you and if you don’t give up and keep going, it makes you stronger in whatever you are trying to achieve”
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting to know Matt Adams