Red Rock, OklahomaDownload
Tony and Connie Kodesh’s three decade farming career is a story of diversification and expansion, powered by effective responses to new opportunities in a changing agricultural environment.
In 1978, they farmed 1,200 acres of wheat and raised stocker cattle. Today they tend 7,000 acres of a variety of grain and cash crops. The couple also runs a retail facility for local farmers, which similarly continues to expand.
Diversifying farm income by selling seed
Tony and Connie's journey to their current success began when they decided to branch out from farming wheat to raising certified seed wheat. “We wanted to add value to what we were raising,” Tony says. “Selling certified seed was a way to get a premium over market price.”
By the 1990s, the Kodesh's transitioned to a more diversified grain operation, capitalizing on farm program changes that supported this shift. As they diversified their crops, so did other farmers in their area. Tony and Connie recognized an opportunity in this trend, and became seed dealers for Monsanto, selling from a retail facility they established on their farm. “Our seed business grew because farmers like to buy seed from seed dealers who are also farmers,” Tony said. “They know that they’ll be selling the same seed that they’re planting themselves, so it’s the right seed for the location.”
Growing the business
Tony and Connie later added fertilizer and crop protection chemicals to their retail business. “We wanted to be a one-stop shop for farmers,” Tony said. One way they’ve done that is by adding seed treatment equipment at their facility.Their customers have the option to purchase treated or untreated seeds, but Tony estimates that 65% of their seed sales are treated. “If we can treat the seed to prevent diseases from hurting it later, the farmer doesn’t have to do aerial treatment,” he said. “This reduces the farmers’ costs, and the amount of chemicals used on the field.” Banking on a further increase in treating, they recently added a new seed treatment facility to double their capacity.
A family affair
“Being diversified has allowed our farm to stay a family business,” Tony said. “Our son, Scott, and his wife, Larissa, are partners in the farm.” Scott joined the farm after graduation from Oklahoma State University with an agriculture degree, and is responsible for the cattle side of the operation as well as a share in the crops. Tony’s brothers, Jim and John, and three full-time employees round out the workforce.
Farm Credit has played a significant role in Tony and Connie's success over the years. “What we’re doing takes a lot of capital, and Farm Credit has been with us every step of the way,” he said. “Every time we see them, we thank them.”