Bob Meyerholtz, a retired vocational agriculture teacher, takes credit for bringing Randy and Joyce Kron together. Both were students in his vo-ag program at Evansville Reitz High School decades ago. Both Randy and Joyce acknowledge that they met through ag classes. Today, the former high school sweethearts are husband and wife, farming partners along with their son, Ben, and outstanding leaders for Indiana agriculture.
Their former ag teacher deserves credit for helping them to aspire to be lifetime servant-leaders, too.
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“He always instilled the need to participate and be involved in his students, including me,” Randy says.
For the past five years, Randy has led Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. as president. The list of organizations he contributed to before becoming INFB president is long. Joyce is an accomplished leader in her own right, serving as president of the Indiana Young Farmers Association during its heyday in the 1980s.
Fulfilling a dream
Both Randy’s and Joyce’s leadership credentials are impressive, but so is the story of their growth and success in farming. Randy’s father didn’t farm — he was a soil conservation employee with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. But Randy’s heart was in farming, and Joyce’s heart was, as well. She grew up on a farm in the Ohio River bottoms near Evansville, Ind.
Randy graduated from Purdue University in the early 1980s intending to become a full-time farmer. It was a difficult economic time for agriculture. He and Joyce started farming anyway. Technically, they are first-generation farmers.
“We must give lots of credit to the support our families gave us to help us get our feet on the ground,” Randy says. “We couldn’t have borrowed the money we needed and achieved a foothold without their support.”
The farm grew over time. While they still live and farm in Vanderburgh County north of Evansville, a large portion of their land base is in neighboring Gibson County. Over time, they found it easier to acquire land to rent or buy in that area. They’ve been able to adapt to farming different types of soils spread out over 20 miles.
Although the Krons grow some white corn, commercial corn is an important part of their operation today. The white corn is marketed at the local Azteca plant for use in foodstuffs. They have grown wheat in the past but are currently primarily in a corn-and-soybean rotation.
At an early age, Randy’s father instilled in him the value of conserving soil and preventing erosion. Since their soil types are so variable, from sandy to heavy, they use various tillage methods, practicing minimum tillage or no-till on lighter soils. They’re also experimenting with cover crops.
Kron Farms today
Serving as INFB president takes Randy away from the farm during the week most of the year.
“We discussed it, and Joyce was comfortable stepping up and doing more of the day-to-day management,” Randy recalls. “We certainly could not have kept the farm operating efficiently with me being away so much without her taking a larger role.”
That doesn’t mean Randy isn’t still a farmer. “I believe our membership appreciates the fact that I am an active farmer, and I stay involved,” he says. “I try to work in as many days at home during spring and fall to help with planting and harvest as possible.”
Meanwhile, their son, Ben, now 30, has become a partner in the operation. He works alongside Joyce when Randy is away. Randy is proud that the operation really doesn’t skip a beat even when he isn’t present physically.
“They are doing a great job of keeping things running,” he says. “Ben keeps us up to date on technology, and that is a huge help.”