Dan Kelley raises corn and soybeans on 3,400 acres near Normal, Illinois, alongside his two brothers, his son and his nephew.
As a Farm Credit customer-owner, he also serves on the CoBank board of directors.
Staying competitive at Kelley Farms
Like many American farmers, the Kelleys strive for utmost efficiency on their operation. Improvements in technology and crop science allow Dan and his family to use fewer inputs than the generations of Kelleys that came before them, all while producing record yields and engaging in rigorous conservation efforts.
“As we can think about competing in a global market, the U.S. farmer has a great opportunity,” Dan said. “We have the soils and we have the seed products that will allow us to increase our yields to meet global demand.”
Efficiency is one way that the Kelleys stay competitive in the global market. “It's said that one out of every three acres of corn and soybeans is exported. And that is the raw product,” Dan said. “When we think about overall exports, because a lot of American crops are used in domestic production for cattle and dairy production, a lot of those products are exported as well. One could say that half of our products are exported in some way.”
And Dan is constantly looking for more innovative efforts to improve his operation.
Need for rural infrastructure
America’s deteriorating rural infrastructure poses significant challenges to Dan and others in the agriculture industry. “Frankly our biggest challenge is our infrastructure,” he said.
Ensuring America's farmers continue to stay competitive among international peers requires investment in all aspects of rural infrastructure. For Dan, river and rail systems are of utmost importance to ensure that the crops he produces on his farm in Illinois can be transported around the world.
“We have a river system in this area that is built 60 years ago. It needs to be updated in order to be able to take advantage of these world markets that are growing,” he said. “Our rail system has changed a lot over the last 50 years. And we need to continue to keep it strong because that's how a lot of grain is transported.”
From roads and bridges, to broadband internet, electricity and rural health care -- all play a role in sustaining American producers and the rural communities they call home.
While vital, the improvement of rural infrastructure is no small task. Dan recognizes the need for a trusted financial partner to help achieve such goals. “As we go through the development of this global market, capital is going to become very important,” he said. “CoBank is there to provide that capital to the infrastructure needs of American agriculture.”