Brian Darrington knew what he wanted to do for a living when he was still a teenager growing up on his family’s farm.
“When I was a 16-year-old kid in high school I bought my first sugar beet shares, 40 acres of beet shares,” he says. “The farm wasn’t large enough to support more than one family, however, so in 2003 I started farming with my brother, Jeff, when I was 23.”
They grew beans and sugar beets, along with some hay and grains.
“Jeff kept things going until I graduated from Idaho State University. We were fortunate to get into farming when we did,” he says. “The past 10 years have been profitable and we had the opportunity to buy some land and expand. We are not a corporation; we’re just a partnership and split the expenses and income.”
This also splits the risk. They own all their equipment together.
“When you have a $20,000 tractor repair bill you are not on the hook for the whole thing. You can spread that over the total number of acres, and that’s been helpful,” Brian says.
“We farm any little piece we can buy or lease,” he says. “Sugar beets are our number one crop, dollar-wise. Beans are second; we grow commercial beans and seed beans, depending on the price. We plant about 300 acres of beans every year and rely on the field men to determine what they’d like us to grow.”
They have a guaranteed market for sugar beets.
“We were fortunate to buy beet shares when they were cheaper. We own the shares and don’t have to scramble looking for shares to rent,” he says.
“Jeff and I have been doing some double-cropping. We take beets off in the fall, then hurry in to prepare the ground to plant triticale or wheat. We chop off that crop in May to sell to local dairies, and plant beans a week later.
“It’s always a mad dash to get it all done,” Brian says.
“Beans require a lot of machine work. We’ve sometimes gone over a field 14 times to get the ground ready, plant, and harvest the beans.”
By the time you disk stubble, plow it, roll it, spray it, plant it, cultivate a few times, you’ve a lot of hours in the tractor, he says.
Brian and his wife, Ami, have two boys and a girl. Breken is 7, Trey is 5, and Ali just over a year old.
“Ami is full-time taking care of the kids right now, but she has driven tractor and helps me a lot, drives to town when I need parts, and keeps the books,” he says.
“I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to farm, and appreciate the landlords who had faith in me when I was 23. One lady was kind enough to carry my payments the first 7 years when I bought my first farm, then rented me her other farm as well,” he says. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have had the equity I needed to buy the other farms.”
Currently, he and his brother own 500 acres together and rent the rest.
It’s difficult for many young people to start farming.
“Somebody has to have faith in you, take a chance on you,” Brian says.
“I am grateful to my parents and everyone else who has worked with me. I had uncles who were willing to harvest my crops and let me return work in kind,” he says. “A lot of people have been patient and generous with me.”
He also appreciates Idaho Crop Improvement Association and the role it plays.
“They certify that our seed is clean and disease-free,” he says. “We have a wonderful growing area here, and supply seeds to the Midwest that they know are reliable. I am glad to be a part of that.”