Phil and Steve Gross

Weidman, Michigan

Phil and Steve Gross

Weidman, Michigan

For nearly 100 years, the Gross family in Weidman, Michigan, has run a full-time dairy operation.  

It started in 1926 when Phil and Steve’s grandfather, Charles Gross, bought some cattle. The farm grew and milk was leaving the property by the gallon. 

In 1947, the farm passed down to Charles’ son, Norman, the father of Phil and Steve. The two boys grew up on the dairy farm where they fell in love with taking care of cattle, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.  

“You’re born into the industry and you realize that you enjoy it and you really don’t want to do anything else,” Steve said. “I know it sounds simple, but that’s how it goes.” The two began running the farm during the 2000s, and assume full control after his death in 2015. 

A New Phase

As Steve and Phil assessed the farm, they recognized the need to transition from a dairy to a cash crop operation. "Nothing happens overnight, but we definitely have some more ideas of the direction we want to move the farm in,” Steve said.  

As a part of this transition, the brothers began expanding the crops they grew this past year. In the fall, the two finished harvesting corn, wheat, alfalfa and soybeans. 

The GreenStone Difference

Looking to manage their risk given the transition to cash crops, the brothers looked to GreenStone for crop insurance. "We were working with GreenStone for years, so it made sense to do everything with GreenStone,” Phil said. 

The two then worked with crop insurance specialist Jordan Schafer to come up with a coverage plan that works for their needs. It’s a relationship that was years in the making.  

“The relationship formed over the years,” Jordan said. “I kept in touch with them over the past three to four years. I supplied them with information about different programs incorporated with crop insurance that could benefit them.” 

Jordan used a program called Optimum for this analysis – a tool exclusive to the Farm Credit System crop insurance teams. Crop insurance specialists like Jordan enter information about a specific farm into the program and put the farm through different scenarios, like weather events. This helps customers learn about the best crop insurance plan options for their land.  

Because of this tool, the brothers decided to add hail protection into their plan because of issues they had in the past. Steve and Phil are happy to know that Jordan comes from a farming background and has their best interest in mind.  

“Jordan has been really helpful in figuring out the level of coverage we need for our acreage,” Steve said. “He has been a really big help with our operation.”  

“Jordan is a straight-shooter and tells us how it is and we appreciate that,” Phil said. “It helps that he has an agriculture background. He isn’t trying to sell us high in the sky, he’s down to earth and understands our operation.” 

Family by Their Side

Although Steve and Phil are the brains behind the operation, they rely on help from their family. Their nephew, Kevin, works alongside them. They hope, one day, he will take the farm over when they decide to hang up their hats. 

“The goal is to transition the farm over to the next generation,” Phil said. 

The Road Ahead

Over the next couple of years, the brothers hope to completely transition out of dairy and expand their fields. One day, they want to have enough grain storage to be able to sell some crops on-site. "Some brothers don’t get along very well with each other, but we have made it work,” Phil said.  

And Jordan will keep visiting the farm to help them keep those prized crops protected. 

“It’s good of them to keep innovating everything on the farm and surrounding themselves with resources on their farm to help them take every step they can to succeed. I want to be that resource for them,” Jordan said.