Matt Leavitt, 40
4th Generation Farmer

Hometown: Mohall, ND
Acres: 12,000
Crops: Corn, Soybeans, Sunflowers, Barley & Wheat
Family: Wife, Ashley; Foxy 3.5; Jennings 18mo.
Farms With: Wife, Father and Mother

Matt Leavitt with his family.

You don’t have to talk to Matt Leavitt for very long to figure out that farming has been a long-held passion.

“Every day growing up I rode with my father and grandfather in the tractor or the combine,” said Leavitt.  “That was all I wanted to do every morning when I woke up.”

The desire to farm never wavered. When Leavitt was 16 his father let him start farming land on his own as part of FFA projects, and Leavitt did everything a full-time farmer did before he could legally be on his own when he “picked up a couple thousand acres and went for it.”

His father, knowing the economic uncertainties that farming can bring, wanted to honor his son’s desire to build a career in agriculture but insisted on a college education. Leavitt said his degree in Civil Engineering helped him build a successful operation.

“It’s a roller-coaster in farming,” Leavitt said.  “There is a lot that is out of your control.  Knowing I had something to fall back on gave me the confidence to be aggressive and really go forward.”

Depending on the time of year, Leavitt and his family employ 5 to 10 people to assist with their large operation. He says finding good workers is one of his biggest challenges in such a remote area of North Dakota.  Leavitt will put ads out in local papers and says he generally gets close to 40 people who apply, but the pool of applicants wasn’t always so abundant and usually lacked the right qualifications.

“A lot of my people have worked in the oil fields, and that was a big issue we had a few years ago, losing employees to oil,” Leavitt said.  “They’re coming back now and realizing that farming is more in line with the lifestyle they want to live. I trust my employees with big equipment and value their input.  My father is an accountant, and the bookwork is important to every aspect of our business.  The agronomy is equally important so all of these factors – bookwork, agronomy, trustworthy employees – that all needs to come together.  Currently, I have the best team I have had in the past 20 years, and it is going extremely well.”

Leavitt says it’s not exactly like it was when he was growing up, but he is enjoying every aspect of working with his family and building a legacy for his own kids.

“I love the challenge of the day to day management,” Leavitt said.  “This isn’t just your small family farm anymore, but we can incorporate those values where our children can have a great life being around us and growing up here.”

When Leavitt talks about his family it’s easy to see what values he intends on passing down through the generations.

“The solid rock of the farm is my father,” Leavitt said.  “He is 71 years old and leads by example for all employees at all times.  If they work 12 hour days, he works 13.  I grew up learning from and looking up to my father, and I always respected him and the work he did.”