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Advocate for ag on and off farm

Life on the farm keeps Kellie Blair busy, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Blair and her husband A.J. farm near Dayton in Webster County, Iowa, with their two children — Wyatt, 14, and Charlotte, 13.

“We always have plenty to do,” Blair says with a chuckle.

Kellie and A.J. farm with his father, although the couple makes most of the decisions on the farm. They also took on a neighbor’s farming operation a few years ago and have two full-time employees.

The Blairs grow corn and soybeans as well as alfalfa, oats and some cover crops, primarily cereal rye. They also custom feed pigs for Smithfield, using a 2,400-head finishing facility on their north central Iowa farm, and they feed 450 cattle and run 45 cow-calf pairs.

“We have pretty much run the farm since 2009, when my husband graduated from Iowa State,” Blair says. “His parents moved to Brazil to farm, and he took it on when they left.”

The family also sells beef directly off the farm, something that began in earnest in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic threatened meat supplies.

“We had these cattle and we were afraid of what we might be able to do with them, so we worked with lockers and Eagle Grove and Lohrville to help market that beef,” Blair says. “For a while we were selling to local stores, but right now we’re just direct marketing.”

Blair is recognized for her practices that build soil health and increase productivity of the soil, including strip-till, no-till and cover crops. Nutrients are conserved with extended rotations and drainage water recycling.

In addition to her busy life on the farm, Blair spends many hours advocating for agriculture off the farm. She serves as a trustee for the Iowa State University Agricultural Endowment Board and has contributed to carbon sequestration and smart agriculture working groups while serving as an experienced farmer in a strip-till/no-till discussion group to support others adopting similar practices. She served on the Webster County Extension Council for seven years.

The Blair farm has earned several awards, including America’s Best Young Farmers from Progressive Farmer, the Iowa Environmental Leader Award through the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Environmental Stewardship Award from Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

Blair received the New Leader Award from the Iowa Soybean Association and the Growing Leaders Recognition from Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

She is a Common Ground advocate for agriculture. In her community, Blair is involved in church leadership and kid’s activities.

She says opportunities continue to be available for women interested in a career in agriculture. That includes production agriculture.

“Newer technology has really helped out,” she says. “I think it’s really an exciting time for women in our industry.”

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