Grower Perspective: Steve McBee

March 18, 2018

Steve McBee runs a family operation in Kansas City, MO, growing Indigo Corn™ and Indigo Soybeans™. He shares what it's been like to work with Indigo so far, speaking to the company's commitment to identity preservation and environmental sustainability.

 

Hands down, there is nothing better than being on a tractor in a fresh-cut field at sunset.

 

You catch the scent of the crop on the wind, you sense the change in the air as the sun dips down, and you feel the satisfaction of all of your efforts throughout the season coming to fruition.  After weeks of planning and months of backbreaking work, you’ve produced something – a crop that will travel through the supply chain and make its way to the production system that keeps the country operating and our people fed.  The daily stresses become worth it, and you look forward to starting it all again next season.

This is why I farm, and this is why I work to ensure I do my part to leave the earth better than how I found it, so that it can continue to produce for future generations.  My four sons embody this attitude as well, and on our family-run operation at McBee Farms, the team works together to maximize productivity with minimal environmental impact. 

We have a team of 13 on the farm, including my sons Steven, Jesse, Cole, and Brayden.  We grow corn and soybeans primarily, as well as cover crops, some wheat, and have 600 head of cattle.  My brother Jim, who has just returned from his third tour in service of our country, now oversees the cattle operation, where he applies the same principals of sustainability and continuous improvement to produce premium, home-grown beef.

A TEAM APPROACH

McBee Farms is a family-run operation, and the entire team works together to stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices so that the farm can continue to thrive.  One way we are doing so is by working with Indigo.  Through our partnership with Indigo, we will produce a healthy, sustainably-grown, identity-preserved crop that can be sold at a premium over market prices.  We will also benefit from shared learnings based on data collected from thousands of farms – which we can in turn put to use in the most effective way with the help of our Indigo agronomist.  Together with the other growers across the United States and within Indigo’s global network, we have the potential to positively influence the future of the agriculture industry.

We have entered a multi-year agreement to grow bundled Indigo Corn™ and Indigo Soybeans™, which includes leasing our on-farm storage to preserve the identity of the grain.  Our team looks forward to this partnership with Indigo, as Indigo embodies so much of what we practice on our farm.  They care about longevity and continued progress for farmers.  They also care about increasing farm profitability, and putting profit back into the farm communities which support our population.  By partnering with Indigo, we are contributing to a model whereby farmers can enjoy long term productivity.

A NEW TREND IN AGRICULTURE

The way I see it, when we look at where we want to be down the road, Indigo is the right partner.  Not only do Indigo’s research and development capabilities far surpass anything I have seen, but they are approaching agricultural innovation for the right reasons, in the right way.

What is most compelling is that Indigo is taking the profit generated by producing a better crop and giving it back to those who work the hardest for it.  Farmers work all year to grow the best crop they can, but at the end of the season many of us struggle to break even.  Meanwhile, the profits get larger as you move up the supply chain, and the guy who does the work has the slimmest margins.  Indigo is reversing the big business model, and giving a better margin to those doing the hard work.

Indigo also has the ability to positively affect the way grain marketing works, preserving the identity of the high-quality grain.  Today, everything gets blended to average quality.  Some larger co-ops can test the content levels and create their own blend, but that still doesn’t help the farmer.  In Indigo’s case, they are using on-farm storage and unique logistics capabilities to match specific profiles to buyer demand.

I believe that IP will eventually be the norm – there is a clear demand for it from consumers, and this will drive the change.  So far though, Indigo is the only company with the resources, determination, and wherewithal to make this happen.  The way they are going about it, by partnering with growers and providing new storage capabilities, is a solution that can drive long-term positive change.  For instance, on McBee Farms, we have a storage facility which will IP up to 1.4 million bushels of Indigo grain.  Every farm is different, and Indigo works with individual growers on the solution that works best for them.

CONSERVATION FOR THE FUTURE

In all that I do, I try to keep a positive outlook and an eye towards continuous improvement.  On the farm, I am a soil conservationist, and my team is always interested in innovative ways to get more out of the soil or plant, without sacrificing its health or longevity.  Indigo has struck that balance.

Indigo’s approach to yield technology is novel and much-needed.  It’s no secret that we all want something that will reduce input costs and increase yield.  We also have all seen our fair share of products that promise to give us these things but that have no basis on which to stand.  Indigo is different in the way it has developed its products, and in the way it intends to use them for future conservation of resources and improved profitability for farmers.

The team and I look forward to partnering with Indigo this season and many more.  It is clear that they are committed to the long-term success of the farm, and as a family-run operation, this is important.  I also know that Indigo has a solid business model, strong financial backing, and enough invested in their R&D that they too will be around in the long run.

The best thing?  For the first time, there is no longer a tradeoff between sustainability and profitability.  With Indigo, you get both.

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