Even though he grew up on the family farm, Ben Marshall didn’t always plan to return to the family operation. After earning his bachelors degree from the University of Idaho in 2008, Ben planned to continue his education with graduate or law school.
After careful consideration, Ben opted to get some real-world experience rather than continue on with more school. He worked for the Forest Service for a few years fighting fire and spent the off seasons traveling through Latin America.
With such strong roots in agriculture, Ben had the itch to continue the family tradition of farming. He eventually joined the farm in 2011 with the support from his family. Ben is a 5th generation farmer.
Ben currently farms 1,600 acres in Jerome, Idaho with his dad, DeWitt. They grow sugarbeets, barley, corn, alfalfa seed and just started experimenting with growing carrot seed. Ben and his wife Samantha have two boys, Eli (6) and Max (3). Max is already obsessed with the farm!
While agricultural producers may have different reasons for farming, Ben believes they do it because they love it. With such a thin profit margin, farmers keep going because they love the lifestyle, not the money.
Ben thinks there is a perception out there that farmers are careless and overusing chemicals. This couldn’t be further from the truth. He can’t overemphasize that farmers are as efficient and sustainable as possible. They only apply what is absolutely necessary. Over time they continue to get better and always keep it as clean and simple as possible. This is absolutely essential for them to survive and make a profit. Overapplying chemicals is wasteful and costly.
He also believes there is a misunderstanding of GMOs. In 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture approved the commercial use of genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets. Since then, our growers have used GE sugar beets with a minor genetic change to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate. This allows farmers to use a limited amount of herbicide to eliminate weeds while not damaging the sugar beet.
Thanks to this technology, growing sugar beets now requires fewer and safer pesticides, less fuel, less water, and a smaller carbon footprint. Growing GE sugar beets allows farmers to grow more sugar beets on less land while using fewer chemicals. Farmers like Ben rely on this technology to grow the crop.
Thank you to Ben for setting the record straight on pesticide usage and GMO technology.