A modern farm simply can't afford waste. Whether we're talking money, inputs, labor, time... “waste not, want not” is the mantra the best farmers are chasing.
When we're talking to Richard Roach, who works with his father, Rick, and brother-in-law, Kyle Dyer, at RAKR Farms in Monticello, Indiana, the conversation centers on "not having a waste," he says. "It’s a different form of vertical integration with the end goal of adding value back to everything we’re doing."
While Richard doesn’t reveal acreage, he describes RAKR Farms as “a very average size family farm.” That seems apt, but in typical farmer fashion, a bit modest. They raise corn, soybeans, some wheat, and double crop soybeans behind the wheat. Richard says they’re also a “small speckle in the livestock space.” Rick partnered with two other local businessmen to purchase a hog operation in 1998, the year of a notorious price crash that afforded an opportunity for Roach and his partners to build upon. Today, that operation finishes about 10,000 hogs a year. In addition, the farm purchases about 250 stocker cattle a year for finishing; some of that herd will go into a small freezer meat business.
One can find examples of “vertical integration” and “added value” in that diverse business portfolio, but the real reason Richard uses those terms to describe how RAKR operates is a separate business that sits a few roads over from their six-generation farmstead: an anaerobic digester that does much more than “add value” to the family business.