As the youngest of 13 children to be raised on a farm in northeastern Montana, Nathan Haynie didn’t anticipate much of an opportunity to someday take over the farm.
He decided to go to college, and after earning a bachelor’s degree in plant science from Montana State University, he continues to work in agriculture.
“I started with internships and entry-level jobs as an applicator,” Haynie said. “I started building relationships and developed leadership skills and moved my way on up.”
Haynie is an agronomist and area manager for Crop Production Services Inc. The company provides fertilizer, seed, chemicals and other products that farmers use to boost yields.
Montana’s agricultural producers have enjoyed an era of relative prosperity over the past decade. Last year’s wheat crop was valued at more than $1 billion. Cattle prices remain strong, and Montana farmers have turned to several new crops to diversify their earnings.
As area manager, Haynie’s territory encompasses Montana and Wyoming, but he and his field men concentrate on parts of the states where agriculture dominates.
“We focus a lot on the Golden Triangle around Great Falls and the Yellowstone Valley and the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming,” he said.
Montana has never been a major producer of corn. But new varieties of seed are providing opportunities for Montana farmers to raise dryland corn.
“Demand for corn over the past four years has been astronomical, and we’re seeing more acreage as a result,” Haynie said.
During an earlier era, dryland farmers often left half of their acreage fallow each year, meaning that each plot was planted every other year. The fallow acreage was tilled regularly to reduce weeds.
Now herbicides are used to control weeds, and many dryland farmers also plant peas, lentils and other pulse crops as part of a rotation.
What’s the toughest challenge that you have faced in your business? The weather and the rising cost of agriculture inputs in a tough and unpredictable market and economy.
What did you learn from that challenge? To value my employees and be available day, night and weekends to deliver product when the farmer is ready to hit the field. I try to stay on top of the ever-changing products, and educate farmers with alternative options of inputs. I also learned to give one-on-one attention and understand the grower’s individual needs and budget.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Qualify yourself to do everything you expect your employees to do.
Who gave you that advice? My father-in-law.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Agriculture is such a large part of our local and national economy. I’d like to help educate our young people to better understand what it takes to put food on the table, the impact of agriculture, as well as the opportunities it holds.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Gaining the trust and loyalty of our farmers and their families with their livelihood and seeing a farmer succeed beyond their own expectations.
Which living person do you most admire? My father-in-law, Steve Page.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I was able to purchase a piece of my father’s original farm. It’s a place where I can take my family and teach our children the value of hard work.
I’m happiest when I’m… with my wife, Sally, and our children, Noah and Haylie.