PNW FARMER AMBASSADOR
As a third-generation farmer, Jim Hermann’s seen a lot of changes. But two things remain the same: his dedication to family and a great sense of humor.
“My dad really did not encourage me to farm. Looking back I understand a little more, because sometimes this occupation can drive you to drink!”
After working for Farm Credit in the “real world,” as Jim puts it, he returned to his roots.
“There are about 100 reasons why I wanted to farm, from working for myself and being independent to enjoying the ‘heat of the battle’ during planting seasons and harvest, where 12-16 hour days are common.”
What drives him to stick with it?
“Probably the main reason I continue to farm is that I absolutely love working alongside my kids!” Jim says with a smile. “There was a time when agriculture was not as rosy as it is now, and the fact that I was able to be around and interact with my kids kept me going.”
Jim and his son, Ben, farmland that’s been in their family since 1909 and recently received the Century Farm Award from the Idaho State Historical Society. Their commitment to preserving their family farm is exemplified by their dedication to no-till agriculture, growing Non-GMO crops, and their Food Alliance certification.
“Personally, I think we have a responsibility to the environment and to our customers to produce a healthy, sustainable product.
Jim and Ben grow a variety of lentils, garbanzo beans, mustard, and cereal grains for PNW Co-op Specialty Foods. Growing them with no-till methods produces benefits that extend far beyond their farm.
“No-till farming benefits the environment and results in lowering the cost of production. I believe every day is Earth Day.”
Read on to discover how Jim and Ben’s passion for protecting the soil results in healthier food for your family.
1. Name of the farm: RimRock Ranches, headquartered 9 miles east of Genesee, Idaho. We farm in both Nez Perce & Latah counties.
2. Number of acres: 2,700 tillable with some pasture
3. Number of years you’ve been a farmer: 35 years for me, 8 years for my son, Ben
4. Why did you become a farmer? I enjoy playing in the dirt and the toys are real! I see it as a way of life. When my oldest son decided after he got his engineering degree that he wanted to farm with me, I felt really blessed. I am sure the kids he graduated with the thought he was crazy for going back to the farm because back then the economy was booming and newly-graduating engineering wages were phenomenal. Needless to say, I know Ben has a passion for farming.
5. Does your family have a history of farming? Yes. We represent the 3rd and 4th generations. We were recently awarded “Century Farm” and have been “outstanding in our field” since 1909.
6. What is your philosophy about farming? To me it’s a way of life. All I want to do is make a decent living. Getting rich was never my goal. Personally, I think we have a responsibility to the environment and to our customers to produce a healthy, sustainable product.
7. Do you have children? We have five kids, and four of them have worked actively on the farm. My daughter was one of my best combine operators. Ben farms with me now and one of my other sons has expressed an interest to farm, but he is still in high school.
8. What are the biggest changes that you’ve seen since you started farming? The transition from a conventional farming system to a no-till system. I never thought we would be able to eliminate erosion like we have in such a short period of time.
9. What do you grow? Wheat: Soft white winter, hard red winter, club, spring red, hard white spring. Barley: Feed, malt. Garbanzo beans: Large Kabuli, small Kabuli, two types of large white Kabuli. Peas: Austrian winter, yellow winter. Lentils: Pardina, Madeline French green and Caviar black. Pacific Gold mustard.
10. Do you consider yourself a “sustainable” farmer? Yes. We are not totally there yet. Until we find a way to get animals back to the farm we will not be truly sustainable. We’re working on that!
11. What does “sustainable” mean to you? Produce food in a way that uses byproducts from one system to enhance another in an environmentally-positive way.
12. Why is your farm Food Alliance certified? Third Party verification adds a level of accountability.
13. Why do you believe no-till is important? Farming in a way that benefits the environment and results in lowering the cost of production. I believe every day is “Earth Day.”
14. As a low spray grower, how do you reduce the amount of chemical herbicides and pesticides used on your crops? Scouting-scouting-scouting. We use chemicals only where we need them, and we use technology to prevent overlap and drift.
15. How are you preserving your land for future generations? No-till. Erosion is the biggest threat.
16. How do you feel about PNW Co-op Specialty Foods being verified by The Non-GMO Project? Excited.
17. Do you believe it’s important to grow non-GMO crops? Yes. It’s what our customers want.
18. Why do you grow for PNW Co-op? I’m part owner of the company.
19. What makes PNW Co-op stand out from other cooperatives? Too many reasons to list. The fact that PNW was there gave me the confidence to expand in tight times, because I knew they were progressive and would market the high-value crops such as garbanzos, which I needed to grow to survive.
20. What changes do you see impacting the way you farm? Good question. Now you’re making me think! All this new technology scares me to death and makes me feel real old, but I know we need to embrace it.
21. Are you hopeful for your future as a farmer? Yes. I think there is good job security.