Third generation farmer Max Schmidt began farming in 1969 with 40 milk cows and 153 acres. Today the farm has grown to 3,500 acres in row crops and a large farrow-to-finish hog operation. Schmidt’s hog operation has been organized as KMAX Farms LLC, with four former employees now partnering with the company. The hog manure produced is recycled back to the land providing the fertility for the next corn or soybean crop.
Max says he enjoys experimentation on his land. “I have all these questions and I want to get answers. There is so much we don’t know,” said Schmidt. “We can’t do it ‘because we have always done it this way.’ We need to learn how to apply conservation practices by reducing the penalties. There are all sorts of things we need to figure out.”
Max and his wife, Georgia, raised twin boys and two girls, all are involved in other professional pursuits. Max's hope for a family heir lies with his grandchildren. But his outlook toward the future is rosy. “If retirement is defined as doing all the things you want to do, then I have been retired all my life. I am doing what I want to do.”
Max believes in investing in his community. He has had leadership roles in 4-H, church, Farm Bureau, the local school board, Soil and Water Conservation District commissioner, hospital board of trustees, Howard County economic development, and national and area Pork Producers.
Building a Culture of Conservation:
“Everyone wants to do the best job possible. No one wants to be the person who isn’t doing what they can. Human nature is to do the best you know how and we need to recognize that in people. We need to identify our fears and speak to the barriers of doing what is best for the land.”
“The rural areas don’t need to have more economists or agronomists—we need more sociologists to tell us how to get along out here. We need to understand how to be better neighbors and do what is socially for the good.”
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"Flat Max" was seen in the Paul Knapp Animal Learning Center at the Iowa State Fair.