Honors go to Bootheel father-son farm team

Sunday, January 25, 2009

NEW MADRID -- Peter Rost looks forward to working every day -- not only because he is doing something he loves, but because his farming operations partner is his son, Peter Rost Jr.

"I'm glad he's out there," said Rost, adding he's lucky to have that opportunity. "It's fun working with him, and we do get along really good."

The two were recognized Thursday at the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Farmers Recognition Luncheon.

The Rosts live in New Madrid and raise corn, rice and soybeans on about 3,300 acres in New Madrid County. They own around 450 acres and rent the rest.

"It's really enjoyable for me -- there are not many people that get to work side-by-side with their dad every day and I feel pretty fortunate," Rost Jr said. "What's nice for me is having that authority. If I've got a question about anything, I've got the answer usually standing right beside me."

Rost Jr., who grew up helping on the farm, officially joined the partnership in 2000, after he graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in December 1999 with a degree in agriculture.

"When I graduated high school and left for college, I really didn't think I wanted to farm," he said. But being away from the farm, where he grew up, he changed his mind.

"I missed it -- it was a way of life for me," Rost Jr said. "It didn't take me long to figure out I was meant to farm."

The two now have three entities under which they farm: Peter Rost Farms Partnership, Peter Rost Jr. Farms and Rost and Rost Farms. "But it's all the same thing," Rost said.

The father-son team has one full-time employee. "And we hire a little extra help during the harvest season," said Rost.

Until 1995, when his son left for college, Rost had a hog farm.

"I just started phasing out," said Rost, adding the hog farm was in operation for 26 years. "I'd been in it a long time and I thought I had about had enough."

Rost got involved in farming through family and grew up in the industry, although his father didn't farm. He learned the ropes from his uncles, Furg Hunter and Pinnell Hunter.

"I always knew it was something I wanted to do," said Rost. "I started farming in 1963 and it just went on from there."

And in the more than four decades he has farmed, Rost said he has seen quite a few changes.

"The biggest is all this technology," he said, referencing guiding systems and GPS. "It's just a different deal nowadays then it was even 10 or 15 years ago."

His son agreed, saying even he has seen a lot of advances. "It just keeps getting bigger and it's so much easier," Rost Jr said. "We look back and we wonder how we used to do it."

Despite the cost in keeping up-to-date, Rost Jr. said it is a priority of the two to stay as current as possible when it comes to the technology in farming equipment.

Rost, 68, is now beginning to phase out of the operation and preparing to hand over the ropes to his son. "He (Rost Jr.) makes pretty much all the decisions now, and I'm just along for the ride," laughed Rost.

But one of the things that makes their partnership work is a constant conversation flow and true teamwork.

"I never make a move without consulting (my dad)," said Rost Jr.

And they'll likely continue that partnership for many years to come.

Rost, said he intends to farm "as long as I am able." But even when he isn't able, he'll likely still be a part of the farming operation, even if it's only to supervise and give out advice. "I like doing it, so I'll just hang around."

Rost Jr. said he can't see it any other way. "He'll never give up. I just can't see him retiring," he said. "It's in his blood -- he'd go crazy if I were out here by myself and he was in the house."

One day, Rost Jr. hopes he has a son who will follow in his footsteps, too. He said: "nothing would make me happier than to have a son come in and follow in the legacy."

michellef@standard-democrat.com

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