Farm Progress

Master farmer Robert Shearer: See key elements of his success

Slideshow: The third of our four-part photo gallery series from the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Master Farmers’ farms.

John Vogel

August 13, 2018

10 Slides

BUSINESS BUILDER: With a land base limited to 368 cropland acres and 43 owned acres, Bob Shearer opened the door for son Mike to build his own equity base with a 2,400-head contract hog finishing barn — the farm’s third finishing facility.

Bob Shearer, the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer from Mount Joy, Pa., started farming at age 17, when interest rates were at 21%. At age 19, and knowing hogs’ “mortgage lifter” reputation, Shearer built his first hog barn — a 150-sow unit later converted to a finishing barn. And he started doing custom work for other farmers.

Catch glimpses of the Shearer family’s operation by clicking through the gallery. Read more about how this smaller-scale farmer competes with larger operations. You can also watch the Robert Shearer Master Farmer video below to learn more about Shearer, courtesy of Cooperative Extension and the Mid-Atlantic Master Farmers Association. Check out videos of all four 2018 Master Farmers on YouTube.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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