Pictured above, from left: Carl, Chad, Steve, Richard, and Scott Mercer.
Meet STEVE MERCER. Steve is a 3rd generation farmer who farms just 3 miles from our Buda location in Kearney. Steve’s family has been working with Aurora Cooperative ever since they started farming in 1948. His grandparents initially purchased about 100 acres where they raised cows, turkeys, and pigs.
“My family didn’t know much about farming,” Steve said. “My dad, Richard, was a bread delivery salesman just out of the military when we moved to Kearney. We learned to farm from watching our neighbors and working with the local cooperative. We did what they did and grew the operation from there. For us, Aurora Cooperative has always been friendly, responsible, and they follow through. They help us make a plan, and they see us through to the end and honor their word. That goes a long way. We don’t shop around or price match because they have always taken tremendous care of us. No one else can match the service they provide, and that means more to us than price.”
Steve came back from college in 1972 and got to farm with his dad full-time. They learned a lot working together. Steve and his dad started a feedlot when he came back to the farm, and they were able to grow it to about 3,000 head. In this industry, nothing stays the same for very long. They quickly realized they needed to get a lot bigger or get out of the feedlot business.
“For us, the writing was on the wall,” Steve said. “We got out of cattle, and it turns out no one has missed that, especially when it comes to the weekends.”
Today, Steve works with his brother, Scott, and his two sons, Chad and Carl. Each of them has their specialty when it comes to helping run the farm. Steve’s oldest son does the accounting, bill paying, and a lot of the planting. Carl, his youngest son, specializes in spraying and choosing the chemical programs they are going to use. His brother does a lot of the planting and prescription work, and Steve enjoys fieldwork and driving the combine each year.
“I have done that for close to 50 years of my life and plan to continue as long as they let me keep doing it,” he said of running the combine.
Steve said the thing he enjoys most about farming is that each day is different.
“Farming is never monotonous,” he added. “There is always a challenge. In this line of work, you go through some pretty significant highs and lows. The lows are really low, and just when you think you’ve had enough and are ready to throw in the towel, something great happens, and it keeps you pushing forward.”
Some of the most memorable and rewarding times he has had farming come from the simple things.
“After my wife and I got married and had our two boys, anytime they wouldn’t take their nap, they would come to ride with me in the tractor or combine,” Steve recalled. “They would curl up on the floor and sleep most of the afternoons while I worked. I loved having them be a part of it, and I think it gave them the bug to want to farm themselves a bit as well.”
As most farmers, Steve struggled for many years with balancing work and family. This was something he didn’t want to see happen to his boys and their families.
“We try to incorporate as much family time as we can,” he said. “We enjoy jet skiing, fishing, and just spending time together. That’s what it’s all about.”
Over the years, Steve said the best things he has learned is to listen more and have patience.
“Things don’t have to go right all the time,” he said. “That used to frustrate me, but now it doesn’t. I let the little things slide and try to see the bigger picture. At the Mercer farm, we take things day by day. There will always be a new fire that needs put out. In life, there will always be a curve ball. You have to be flexible and go with it.”