Mindset makes farm transition successful
Brandon Kaufman, a rural Moundridge native and former Wichita Wild arena football player enjoys completing a task. The chemistry major and Bethel College graduate likes to look at situations from different perspectives and he has never been afraid of hard work.
When Lloyd Voth met Kaufman a year ago, he knew he had finally found a man with the right mindset to help him manage Voth Farms, rural Goessel. What Voth did not realize at the time, was how well things would fall into place, securing the viability of his multi-generational farm and providing a rare opportunity for a young farm family to get a good start.
“This farm has been in the family for many generations,” Voth said. “My great-grandparents settled here, my granddad, dad, and me — there is a lot of history here. Some people when they retire do not mind just selling out, but I did not want to do that. I wanted to make sure I found somebody that cared for the land and really wanted to farm to help me transition out.”
Voth and his wife, Marlene, have three adult daughters with families of their own. None, however, seemed especially anxious to take over the family farm.
“One of my son-in-laws drives our cattle truck for us,” Voth said. “But I needed someone who wanted to farm to live here and work with me.”
Kaufman grew up on a small family farm near Moundridge. His parents own Underhill Farms and raise fallow deer.
“All my life I’ve enjoyed farming,” Kaufman said. “During the summers, I helped my dad and the neighbors, driving wheat trucks, working the fields. Sometime I did it for free just because I enjoyed it.”
There was another thing that Kaufman enjoyed as much as farming while growing up. That was football.
“When I think of all the hours I put into football — training, lifting weights, practices — it’s thousands of hours,” Kaufman said. “I felt that God gave me some talent and I tried to make the most of it. In a way, farming is like that too.”
As a football player, Kaufman led his high school team to state playoffs, and in college was the 2007 KCAC Player of the Year for Bethel College. He went on to play defense for the Wichita Wild, training continuously and trying out for several professional teams.
“I was only 85 pounds as a freshman in high school,” Kaufman said. “As a little guy I had to work very, very hard for everything I ever did in football. I grew and I accomplished a lot, but I guess I finally realized after several years with the Wild that professional football wasn’t going to happen for me.”
Kaufman’s football legacy carried over into his farming career when he met Voth and found the two of them thought a lot alike when it came to raising crops and cattle.
“In football, you learn to control what you can control, and not worry about the rest,” Kaufman said. “You have to do that with farming too. You can’t control the weather but you can do what needs to be done so your work is successful.”
Kaufman’s background in chemistry also became a good fit for farming with Voth.
“I wasn’t sure what I would really do with a chemistry major when I graduated,” he said. “But in a way, everything we do on the farm is an experiment.
Even though Lloyd has been doing this for 50 years, he is very open-minded and knows that what worked years ago, might not work today. He is always looking for ways to improve by thinking outside of the box. Lloyd says if you are not progressing, you are falling behind. I can understand that.”
Kaufman, Voth, and additional hired hand Bob Schmidt, meet every morning at 8 a.m. in the Voth Farms barn shop to discuss plans for the day.
“We talk about strip tilling plans, whether or not to use fungicides, and are experimenting with how to incorporate green fallow into our fields,” Kaufman said. “Diversity makes us successful, that and being willing to consider new ideas.”
Working successfully as part of a team is nothing new to Kaufman. It was an aspect that Voth valued as well when he hired Kaufman. Voth also appreciated Kaufman’s family connections and stability.
“When I interviewed for the job, he asked me to bring along my fiancé,” Kaufman said. “It turned out that one of Morgan’s dad’s customers was married to Lloyd’s wife Marlene’s college roommate from nursing school.”
Morgan’s father, Mark Peters, is an agronomist in Henderson, Neb., where Kaufman worked driving a grain truck when needed.
Kaufman and his wife, Morgan, welcomed their first child into the world just three weeks ago. Voth could not be happier with the situation.
“I am so happy with Brandon and how this is working out,” he said. “They are wonderful people. We all have a good relationship.”