The Spark that Ignited a Lifelong Passion
Andy Junkin’s mom showed him their farm financials the day he left for college saying, “If you don’t change these numbers, I’m leaving your father.” Andy thought the challenge was to learn better production practices and apply them; but he quickly realized the bigger challenge was getting these production changes approved by his stubborn father. When Andy’s father ploughed his crops under in a fit of rage, Andy quickly realized that “you can become the smartest farmer in the world, but knowledge and skills are useless until you get everyone pulling together.”
Andy’s parents ended up getting a divorce after a fight over his father buying a manure spreader and Andy has been turning crappy situations ever since! For several years, Andy was stuck milking another man’s cows (actually water buffalo but that is a long story) for minimum wage 500 miles from his hometown. He became obsessed researching (daily habit of reading 100+ textbook pages/day) what he had done wrong and could have done better. Then he started getting calls from his friends who had “come home to farm” and started helping them out when their families clashed. It became quickly apparent to him and the people he helped that he had a knack of smoothing out rocky farm family situations.
2009 Marked the Birth of Agriculture Strategy as a Farm Mediation and Agricultural Consulting Service.
Andy began consulting/mentoring/coaching full time in 2009 with the founding of Agriculture Strategy. He cut his teeth on some of the direst farm succession and farm debt turnarounds, building both experience and expertise. He was the farm mediator and niche farm consultant that was called in when the situation was given up for loss by the farm succession planner or farm accountant. He wrote about his work in a few farm papers and surprisingly folks started calling him from across North America. He would put 70K kilometers a year on his car driving all over to save these farms. However, logistics and finances made it seemingly impossible to help every family that contacted him, but where there’s a will there’s a way.
From Farm Consultant on Road to Farm Family Business Meeting Chairman Online.
He began working with these debt-ridden farms located hundreds of miles away pro bono over SKYPE (video conference over the internet). Much to Andy’s surprise, the families he worked with over the internet and SKYPE had faster and better results than in-person consulting. The shorter, more frequent interactions got 10x better results and was much less stressful than the traditional day long on-farm mediation/consultation format. It’s also “COVID proof” and allows Andy to help farmers in 19+ states cost effectively. This realization made way to what is now the standard delivery of Agriculture Strategy’s unique on-line program. Over the past 5 years successful farms (good successors/profitable operations) have started using his unique process and found it amazing to turn their situations from good to great.
Are Women Farmers More Passionate than Men Farmers?
Depends who you ask! But ask Andy’s wife Bernadette Fox and you may be able to decide for yourself! Bernadette Fox grew up on her family’s fruit and vegetable farm and market in Michigan where she worked morning, noon, and night along side her family for over 15 years. She labored and co-managed her family’s 100 acres and could out-pick and out-labor five men. Her passion for creating a farm and market has spilled over into her work as partner of Agriculture Strategy. After marrying Andy in 2017, she gave up farming on her family farm, moved to Iowa, and joined Andy on his mission. She now understands how significant Andy’s work is for women farmers and breaking the chauvinism barriers that still stigmatize women to this day. Giving up her family’s farm was a sacrifice that wasn’t taken lightly, but Agriculture Strategy has become a life purpose for not only Andy but Bernadette as well, and she is eager to bring her talents and passion to the business and each farming family they work with.
Family Always Comes First
Andy has an Agriculture Business degree, has written five books, been keynote speaker and workshop leader across the U.S. and Canada, and writes for several national farm publications. Originally from Bobcaygeon, Ontario, he now lives on a small farm near Mount Vernon, Iowa. He rarely leaves home as Agriculture Strategy has him strapped down for 14+ hours a day. However, Andy is blessed with a great marriage, and playing with his boys and doing farm chores between calls is his stress relief. Due to demand for his time, Andy only allows for a few times a year to travel for speaking or on-farm meetings. Surrounded by a great support team, Andy truly lives to save family farms.