Posted on Feb 09, 2017
Ethan Miller from Columbia, Missouri, grew up helping his father on the family farm. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, from the University of Missouri, Miller moved home to forge his own path on the family farm with his diversified crop and livestock operation. As the fourth generation of Miller Family Farms, he always knew he wanted to go back and farm his family’s land.
“Farming is something I always planned on doing, maybe not full-time, but something I wanted to do my whole life,” Miller said. “It’s hard work, but I do it because I love it.”
Despite his busy farming schedule, Miller finds time to get involved and give back to his community. He is the District Manager for the Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District, which assists local producers through cost-sharing programs for implementing conservation practices like no-till farming and installing animal waste facilities. Miller serves as a committee member for the Missouri Sheep and Goat Conference, and he assists with organizing meetings for the local Women in Agriculture group.
Miller plans and leads outreach and education activities for local producers on topics such as grazing, erosion, soil health and cover crops. He said although sorghum is not very popular in Missouri, he is working to raise awareness of the crop as a viable option for producers in his area. In his own operation, Miller uses sorghum as a rotation crop with wheat and soybeans and as a cover crop and forage for his sheep and cattle.
“I like sorghum, just not many people are aware of all that sorghum has to offer,” Miller said. “It’s versatile, stress-tolerant and yields fairly well in this region.”
Miller hopes that through his experience with Leadership Sorghum he will gain more insight and tools to get producers in his area on board with sorghum. There is little research or education for sorghum producers in Missouri and no active commodity council to promote such activities. But Miller wants to change that. He aspires to use the knowledge, connections and experience he will gain through Leadership Sorghum to rally producers and reignite a state-level sorghum association.
The best thing about the Leadership Sorghum program for Miller thus far is the opportunity to share experiences with the other class members and learn how each sorghum producer does things differently in their region.
“I think the best thing is getting all of us together from different regions, different backgrounds and different production methods,” Miller said. “Getting together and sharing what we’ve learned over the years has been really great. I’m definitely happy with that aspect of the program on top of everything else.”
Equipment Color: “Rust; we use all different equipment here, and most of it is rusty”
Tractor Tunes: Country radio, when the signal comes in
Favorite Season on the Farm: Spring and Fall
Favorite Part of Farming: Working hard and learning and improving all the time
Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, research, reading, small business ventures and computer programming
Ethan is a member of Leadership Sorghum Class III, a program designed to foster the next generation of sorghum leaders. The program exposes members to various aspects of the sorghum industry from basic and applied research to international marketing. Through both hands-on and classroom-style education, participants gain an understanding of how sorghum moves through the value chain, how checkoffs and interest organizations interact on behalf of the industry and what the future holds for the crop. The program also provides professional development training and networking opportunities.