All in the Family Farm
April 12, 2019
Written By Megan Hill
It’s not uncommon for Jay Collins to put in 13-hour days on his diversified farm in Lentner, Mo. There’s so much to be done—raising row crops, running a cow/calf operation and managing contracted swine facilities—that it takes a full family effort to keep the operation going on a daily basis. Jay relies on help from his wife, Michele; son, Cole; daughter, Carly; and contributions from his in-laws.
Jay began farming with his in-laws after he graduated from the University of Missouri with a general agriculture degree in 1993. Although his family had their own farm, Jay discovered an array of opportunities working with his wife’s parents, and in 2014, Jay took over the family farm from his in-laws.
After obtaining his own degree from State Technical College in Linn, Mo., Cole recently returned to the farm to help his father and run his own contracted swine facilities. Michele, who teaches at South Shelby High School in Shelbina, pitches in by delivering meals to the field and running errands for fuel and other supplies. When Carly, a junior in high school, is not occupied with high school sports or FFA events, she helps Jay with jobs like sorting hogs, driving the grain cart and whatever else she can do to contribute.
Though Jay’s in-laws have retired from managing the farm, they still assist Jay with some tasks when they aren’t busy running their own lagoon pumping business.
Jay says he feels blessed to have his family’s encouragement and active involvement on the farm.
“The independence of doing what I enjoy and getting to share that enjoyment with my family is special to me,” Jay says. “It is truly a family effort, it’s not just me.”
Besides running his family’s multifaceted operation, Jay stays involved with the efforts of his local cooperatives. He is a member of MFA Oil and serves as a delegate for the company’s northeast district, and he was recently elected president of the Macon Electric Cooperative Board of Directors. Jay believes the most important part of his cooperative involvement is helping to reduce the communication gap between the co-op and its members. For farmers like Jay, doing business with a cooperative helps to keep operating costs lower while providing opportunities to share in the co-op’s success through patronage dividends.
“As members, we have a shared responsibility to work together to make sure our co-op continues to operate as a viable entity that meets the needs of the membership,” Jay says.
Although Jay has little time away from the farm and his cooperative commitments, he enjoys opportunities to spend time with his family at sporting events like Carly’s basketball and softball games or attending Mizzou women’s basketball games with Michele.