Return on Investment: Kelly Carns
Carnes Farm aerial view


As technology advances and farming systems change, continuing the family farm can be intimidating. For Kelly Carns continuing his father’s legacy and ensuring the prosperity of the farm for generations is his ultimate goal, but it’s a challenging one in today’s ever-changing world. Through grants, like GreenStone’s CultivateGrowth grant, a financial weight can be taken off the farmer’s shoulders so they can focus on their future goals.


Kelly Carns and his family own and operate a corn and soybean farm in Allegan County, MI known as Carns Farm. Beginning with his grandfather, the farm originally known as Miles View Acres has been family owned and operated for three generations. Kelly decided to apply to the grant program to help offset the costs of working with a marketing/financial consultant group, which he had been contemplating for a while.


While working with the consultant group, Kelly, his wife Allison, and their family sat down monthly to go over the entire farm and a breakdown of costs. They were able to look at what it costs per bushel to raise a crop of beans or corn. Having this calculation has been the key to the farm's growth and success. “As we continue to grow the operation and purchase new equipment, we can calculate our return on investment and ensure we are making the right decisions moving forward,” explained Kelly.


Through this understanding the family has upgraded grain systems, established a high-speed load out, put in a larger bin for higher capacities at harvest, purchased a self-propelled sprayer, and made many other advancements.


“The consultant group broke down the cost of the bins, included the profit increase by being able to hold more product in the bins, and even broke down best times for us to sell and at what price to sell at. It really developed a set plan that we were able to stick to,” said Kelly.


Working with financial groups can be quite expensive; the grant was the key to help the family offset the cost and they were able to put these savings back into the farm for fuel, equipment, fertilizer, etc. After seeing the large benefit from working with the consultant group, they have expanded to another financial/broker group.


“Through working with a larger financial group, we are able to take what we learned over the past five years and expand upon that for even more growth. It's truly the next step for a prosperous farm,” said Kelly. “The toughest part about farming is the constant change and growth. Farming in general- the tractors and the crops are easy, but the financial side, the paperwork, and the marketing is a such a challenging yet huge part of the operation.”


In five to ten years, Kelly and his family hope to continue to grow at a stable rate and continue to prosper for the next generations. Kelly currently has two daughters and wants them to have the opportunity to continue the family farm if interested. Being able to sustain his family while doing something he loves is his reason for continuing.


Through other grants, Kelly has also been able to become more involved in cover crops. Seventy percent of his farm is now no till cover crops which protects the soil, increases soil nutrients, and makes planting easier. Changes like these are a key to success and Kelly hopes to be fully no till cover crops in the coming years.


When asked about advice for other farmers, Kelly said “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and know that there is always help out there. Banks, institutions like GreenStone, and other farmers are always there to help either through grants or advice. Grants are so easy to apply for and they allow you to try new things without worrying about the financial investment of it. And farmers, new or old, are always there to bounce ideas from or give advice.” To learn more about the CultivateGrowth Grant visit Grow Forward Grant | GreenStone FCS. To help your future success, apply today!


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