CHANNAHON – Jeff Bleuer of Channahon compares a life in farming to a visit to Las Vegas.
“It’s like rolling the dice, because nothing is a guarantee,” he said.
For six generations the Bleuer family has farmed land in Grundy, Kendall and Will counties of Illinois. The fields are primarily corn and soybeans, but with new technologies and farm-to-table trends, the sixth-generation farmer, Jeff Bleuer, wants to take the farm a step further, so his son and daughters can pass on the legacy.
“My dad, Bob Bleuer, is 68 and it’s time for him to slow down, so I thought I would take a stab at the farm. I want to enjoy going to work everyday and I love what I do,” Jeff Bleuer said. “Less than 2 percent of our population is involved in agriculture, but we feed the world.”
Jeff Bleuer, who grew up in the Plainfield area, moved to Channahon in the 1990s, graduated from Minooka Community High School, and left for college. He received an agriculture business degree from Joliet Junior College and a bachelor’s of animal science from Illinois State University. Jeff Bleuer had always helped his father farm, but took jobs outside of the family farm, and now has farmed as a career for two years.
“The farm my parents are on now is the same farm my mom, Pat, grew up on, and we farm about 1,500 acres in the three counties,” Jeff Bleuer said.
Although this year’s harvest did not prove to be record setting, Jeff Bleuer said the yields have been good this year, which can drop the commodity prices. He said, in the winter, he and his father met with their crop adviser to come up with a plan on what to plant on each farm site, research chemical and fertilizer costs, buy seed and if at all possible, pre-pay for products while the prices are low because prices tend to fluctuate with demand.
Jeff Bleuer said he chose to pre-sell 75 percent of his soybean crop and 50 percent of his corn crop.
“The hardest part about farming is to sell at the right time – I have to take a guess when the market will be at its peak. This year I sold crops before planting, because in May and June the prices were higher,” Jeff Bleuer said.
In order to take the family farm into the next generation, Jeff Bleuer has a goal of doubling the amount of acres they currently plant, as well as adding more beef cattle, chickens and vegetables.
Restaurants and homes alike have grasped a farm-to-table food trend, so his wife, Tricia Bleuer, and children ran farm stands around Channahon to sell fresh vegetables during the summer months. They also sell fall home décor, which consisted of corn stalks, straw bales, and pumpkins and gourds.
“I am not afraid of diversity. I love farming, but it’s not always secure as a set job. I want to keep looking at other things that might work to add agricultural income for my family,” Jeff Bleuer said.
In addition to the full-time farm career, Jeff Bleuer also represents LibertyLink® soybeans and plans to exclusively plant that brand next year in order to prevent weeds becoming resistant to their brand of soybeans. He also runs product for local grain elevators for added income.