19-Year-Old Hopes to Retire Early and Farm

At age 19, Austin Midkiff has already made plans to retire at a young age and farm the rest of his life.

Austin Midkiff thinks, breathes and lives farming. It’s all he has done since he was six years old.

By the time he was 14, he took over his grandparent’s 10-acre farm in Springdale, W.Va.

“When I turned 16 my grandparents sold everything to me in order to teach me how to get things on my own and start from scratch,” said Midkiff. “It’s hard starting off.”

Now, at age 19, he understands the difficulty of being a beginning farmer. For the past three years, he was able to build his cow/calf herd with a small loan from the Farm Credit Bureau, using his grandfather as a cosigner. But this year was different. His grandfather’s failing health prohibited him from cosigning on another loan and Midkiff’s young age didn’t make him the likely candidate to be approved.

“For three years I was able to get a loan with a cosigner and I paid the loan back six or seven months early,” said Midkiff. “Now, nobody would give me a shot. I was rejected everywhere because of my age and most places treated me like I was nothing unless I was looking to take out a $200,000 loan.”

With the Farm Credit loans, Midkiff expanded his farm from 10-acres to almost 400 acres. He missed 45 days of his high school senior year to run livestock and put up hay. “I still graduated, but farming was a priority and my passion,” he said.

He had the skills, he just needed a way to continue funding his passion. Some advice from a friend led him to the Farm Service Agency office. Midkiff completed a microloan application and by simple coincidence became the first person in the nation approved for the newly created loan.

“I didn’t know about the microloan. I went in looking to get a small loan, about $20,000,” said Midkiff. “I liked their personalities and they treated me well.”

With the FSA loan, Midkiff plans to build up his herd by purchasing 10 cows, a bush hog and fertilizer.

“He flat-out loves farming,” said FSA Farm Loan Officer Daniel Yokum, who worked with Midkiff and advised him to apply for the microloan. “He has a very up-beat personality and seems like a real go-getter.”

Midkiff currently works a full-time job in the emergency room of the Greenbrier Valley Medical Center and two part-time jobs while still putting in a full day’s work on the farm.  He is also studying to be an Emergency Medical Service technician. His ultimate goal is to retire from working multiple jobs by the age of 35 or 40 and farm the rest of his life.

“I work night shifts, sleep six hours and then push myself hard all day,” said Midkiff. “One day, if I play my cards right, I’ll have everything paid off and I can retire and just farm.”

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7 Responses to 19-Year-Old Hopes to Retire Early and Farm

  1. Brenda says:

    What a wonderful story for such a young person. Not too many young people have that drive or are not taught the responsibility of hard work. I work for Farm Service in SC and we do have some young farmers but not that young. Thanks for sharing.

  2. John Kim says:

    He will retire early. Great story!!!

  3. RAYMOND GONZALEZ says:

    IAM STARTING OUT NOT THAT HARD BUT I HAVE A GAME PLAN I OWN 80 ACERS OF LAND AND I LIKE TO START A SMALL FARM BUISNESS AND SUPORT MYSELF AND RETIRE AS A FARMER BUT IF I HAD KNOWN ABOUT THIS WHEN I WAS 20 YEARS OLD I WOULD BE A RICH PERSON BY KNOW BUT I WILL TRY

  4. Susan Perales says:

    What an inspiration you are! You’re on the right track, and I have no doubt you’ll be a successful full-time farmer one day. Keep up the good work. I work for FSA in Texas, and it is wonderful to see a young person so excited about a farming future.

  5. Carolyn Banks says:

    What a great success story! continue to inspire others. In my reading, I know you have the passion and drive to become one of the most successful farmers. Good luck!

  6. Marilynn Wilson says:

    I have confidence he will accomplish his goals & am sure he will b the go to guy years from now when our nation gets hungry. I’m proud he in interested in an occupation that is the backbone of America. I too am a public service worker as a firefighter, fire investigator, emt, & police officer & get more pleasure & satisfaction out of farming & ranching than all the other. Nothing like watching new life taking place, smell of fresh cut hay, & new plowed ground. The fruits of your labor will bring you joy!

  7. Jessie Singh says:

    A truly remarkable tale. It is difficult when you get rejected everywhere.

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