I arrived at the Case IH booth during Farm Progress Show to learn about the new product launches for the 2020 growing season. I walked around a line of people that extended throughout the exhibit. It ended at the Case IH stage where three guys dressed in jeans, T-shirts and hats were signing autographs.
“They’ve been here for over an hour meeting people,” a company representative explained. “That is after they talked for 30 minutes. They have a huge following.”
I’ve apparently been living under a YouTube rock because it took me walking up to the stage, snapping a photo and then Googling the name “Welker Farms.”
OK, so now some of you are shaking your head asking if I even work in agriculture. Fair statement. But for the few like me who had never heard of the father and sons' Montana farming operation, I’ll explain.
Welker Farms Inc. includes Bob Welker, a third-generation farmer, along with his sons, Nick and Scott. It is Nick and Scott that catapulted the family farm into dominating the farm social media space.
Welker Farms has more than 247,700 subscribers via YouTube; 51,000 Instagram followers; 24,600 Facebook followers; and close to 5,000 followers on Twitter. And with each post or tweet, they are showing the day-to-day of farm life. And their followers span the generation gamut.
In a Q&A session, the first question came from a young boy, “What is your favorite Big Bud tractor?” The family is known around the world for the iconic Big Bud tractors, and they claim to have the only self-propelled sprayer that looks like a Big Bud — aptly called the "Big Brute."
Never heard of a Big Bud tractor? Well, they were first made at the Havre, Mont., plant in 1968. Then Big Bud 747, or 16V-747 Big Bud, came along in 1977 with its 1,100 hp and the title, "World's Largest Farm Tractor."
The Welkers own and use these tractors on the farm. They allow viewers to see Big Bud tractors in action from the field straight into the shop.
Watch their equipment at work below.
The family uses more than Big Bud tractors around their 10,000-acre farm in north-central Montana. They recently entered into a partnership with Case IH and are sharing experience with their combines during harvest via social media channels. And people around the world are watching.
For the next gen
But what got to me was the Welker Farms fans at Farm Progress Show. I watched as young people about the age of my 8-year-old nephew stood eagerly in line. Honestly, what young boy do you know that would want to stand in line for anything, let alone wait for 45 minutes? Still, there they were.
Parents and grandparents lingered with them. Why? As one Farm Progress Show visitor shared, “Thank you for providing a show that we can watch with our kids together.”
In a time when agriculture is often under attack or, worse, considered an afterthought by consumers, Welker Farms celebrates its vocation. Its social media presence shows just how amazing a life in agriculture can be. It is the one channel that grandfathers and fathers can pull up and watch with the next generation and get excited about what the future holds.
Nick summed up his family’s mission by saying, “We have a dream. We have a life that we're trying to live. We want our kids to be raised up in this life. It's a proud heritage, and we want to continue it. And that's what drives us to keep doing it. We're doing, so we can show the world this life, this energy, this passion. I think that's a good thing.”