Meet Century Farmer Harry Rymer
The Dirt on the Farm
Farm family: Harry and his wife, Kathy
Crops & livestock: broiler chickens, hay, corn and soybeans
Farm location: Oldfort in Polk County
Farm Bureau membership: 50 years
Did you always dream of being a farmer?
Growing up in a farmhouse built in 1877 on a farm that has been in the family for more than 100 years was a dream. My dad had seven brothers and sisters, and my grandmother lived to be 96 or 97. Growing up, my cousins would come for six to 10 weeks at a time, which made us all really close. We have a reunion with 40 to 50 people coming back now each June. When it comes down to it, even though when I got out of college I worked in a chicken processing company for 10 years and then worked for the Tennessee Farmers Co-op in Cleveland for 10 years, I always wanted to farm. I farmed on the side while working those jobs and was the first chicken grower for Gold Kist when they came to Tennessee. When they expanded in 1994, I went from two houses to four and was able to come home to full-time farm at the end of 1994. I was the largest farmer they had at the time, and now I am one of the smallest, which shows how much the market has changed in the past 20 years. I have four houses and raise between 100,000 to 110,000 chickens at a time for 30 to 40 days with six flocks a year.
In addition to chicken houses, I raise hay and, depending on the year, soybeans or corn with my sons. I also run a tractor-trailer truck to haul commodities for neighbors. I think it is important to have the best product and do the best job you can with what you raise, no matter what it is. I love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What are your biggest challenges and blessings on the farm?
The biggest blessing is being out in the country and raising my kids so they know what work is while not having neighbors all around me.
The biggest challenge is that it takes so many dollars to wake up and farm in the morning, and I haven’t been able to do as much as I would like to do farming-wise. It’s unbearable what farming costs now from seed to parts to equipment, but I wouldn’t trade living on a farm for anything.
Are you Farm Bureau proud?
Without Farm Bureau, farmers wouldn’t have much of a voice to get legislation or anything passed through Congress. Daddy was the Farm Bureau county president for a number of years, and I’ve been county president now for around 15 years and have proudly run for state board once.
I have really enjoyed getting to know the people – I’m a people person and have enjoyed everything I’ve gotten to do through Farm Bureau. It’s a top-notch, top-run organization. I know people across Tennessee, and if I have any kind of problem I know someone I can call to come and help me no matter where I am … not many people can say that of an organization.