Jeffrey Mai, Growing for the Next Generation

Jeffrey Mai ProfileJeffrey Mai is a third generation farmer who is committed to preserving his farm for future generations just as his father and grandfather did for him.

Mai was born and raised on his family farm in Garden City, Kansas, where he worked as a farmhand moving pipe and roguing crops at a young age. He completed a degree in agricultural business at Kansas State University to prepare him for a future of successful farming. Upon completion of his degree in 2006, he was eager to return home and work on the farm.

"Farming is a part of my soul, and it's something that is hard to explain to others why you love doing it," Mai said.  "I get a sense of fulfillment that I would have a hard time doing something else. It is just a joy to be able to work alongside your family and be together through the ups and downs."

Growing over 1,000 acres of sorghum annually, Mai said his goal is to strive to be as sustainable as possible with his resources, specifically water. Mai sets this goal so there will be a greater opportunity for future generations to continue the family farm.

 "The reason I strive to be as sustainable as possible is for the future, because the more water we have the longer we are able to keep farming," Mai said. "Technology can help us use less and continue doing the amount of irrigation we currently are, which in turn keeps more people farming and helps our communities thrive."

One way Mai strives to meet his sustainability goals on his operation is through the center pivot irrigation system. This allows him to push the standards and go for 200 bushels of sorghum double cropping it behind wheat.

"I really enjoy watching the crops grow and overcoming the challenges that Mother Nature throws at us," Mai said. "I'm a competitive person who likes the challenge, and in farming there is no such thing as winning because it all starts over new every day."

Mai joined Leadership Sorghum because he wanted to know more about the sorghum industry and the vital role it plays in southwestern Kansas.

"Sorghum is something we need out here to survive farming due to its wide uses and adaptation," Mai said. "I wanted to get a better understanding of the industry and see what I can do to help."

Mai sees his fellow Leadership Sorghum class members as some of the most outstanding producers and people. Mai says each one of them has a very unique perspective, which allows him to learn unique insights he can take back to his farm.

"I plan to stay connected with the people I have been able to meet through this opportunity," Mai said.  "I also want to let others in my area know what the Checkoff is doing for them as far as research and marketing advancements for their sorghum crop."

Mai considers Leadership Sorghum a worthwhile experience where you gain a better understanding of the sorghum crop and industry as well as make connections and friends for life.

Jeffrey and his wife Brittany were married in the fall of 2008. They now have two boys, Luke age five and Evan age two. When the Mai family is not spending their time together on the farm they enjoy traveling to places that involve outdoor activities like hiking in the Colorado mountains and visiting family and friends in Kansas City.

"My two boys love the farm, and I really enjoy seeing them out in the fields," Mai said, "which  takes me back to being a kid myself on the farm with my dad."

Today, Mai takes joy in teaching his boys about the family farm and sports, two things he loved growing up and attributes to making him the man he is today. Mai said he is more appreciative each day of the farm his family built pushing him to work toward a sustainable operation that can be passed on to many more generations. 

Equipment Color:  Red
Tractor Tunes:  Anything Red Dirt
Favorite Season on the Farm: Fall Harvest
Favorite part of Farming: Solving problems and always improving his production
Hobbies: Playing sports with his two young sons

Jeffrey  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.