LIBERAL, MO.--- The image of the modern farmer is changing with the growing costs of farming and the increasing use of technology to plant crops. About 97% of U.S. farms are operated by families- whether it be individuals, family partnerships, or family corporations.
You could say farming runs in Howard Overman's blood.
"My grandpa farmed, my dad farmed, and I learned everything from him," said Howard Overman, Third Generation Farmer.
Howard started driving a combine when he was just nine years old.
"I got out of high school in 1980 and officially started," said Howard.
His love for farming was passed down to his sons.
"I'm proud that my boys want to continue. So many farmers these days don't have anybody to carry on and I'm proud they want to do it," said Howard.
Taylor Overman is the fourth generation in his family to farm. Together, the Overman family produces corn, wheat, and soybeans.
"It's everything, it's our main source of income," said Taylor Overman, Fourth Generation Farmer.
Times have certainly changed since Taylor's grandparents ran the farm.
"This tractor, it has blue tooth and heated leather seats. The new combines, they have a little refrigerator under the buddy seat. It's just crazy what they are coming out with," said Taylor.
The Overmans, like most other farmers, use GPS to do their planting. Before the next growing season starts, they use a computer program called Apex Farm Management Software.
"It will show you all the maps, and all the yield data. It will give you a whole map you can print out. It gives you reports that we can go back and look at over the years," said Taylor.
When the work is underway, there's smart phone apps to make it easier.
"There's a mix tank app, you can put your chemicals in there and it will show you which way to mix it up so it stops from foaming," said Taylor.
As well as an app to control their irrigators.
"They tell you if it's running or not. You can turn them on and off from your phone," said Taylor.
All this equipment and computerized systems comes with a hefty price tag. This combine can run upwards of $300,000 just by itself. The Overmans say you need the big machinery to farm more acres.
"You have to have them if you are going to compete. Farming is a competitive business. If you don't farm it, someone else will," said Howard.
That someone else is most likely a farmer that already has family in the business. Howard says it would be difficult to pick up farming without help.
"It'd be hard, it costs so much. You about have to have some way to start," said Howard.
Despite that, the Overmans wouldn't trade it for the world.
"Family farms are really good. It teaches kids. I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's a blessing for us to be able to do it," said Howard.
Farm and ranch families like the Overmans comprise just 2% of the U.S. population.
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