Ronnie Mohr, Greenfield, Ind., says he was 8 years old when he knew farming would be his life’s passion. He rented 12 acres at age 14 and was farming with his brothers before he finished high school. When Ronnie married Sarah in 1969, both knew they wanted to farm for the rest of their careers.
They’ve farmed together, raised a family together and served agriculture together — locally, across Indiana and even nationwide. Now, they’ve been named Master Farmers together, thanks to their hard work and dedication. The award is co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
When Ronnie’s father, Maurice, took an off-farm job, Ronnie and his brothers did the farming. He bought his first piece of equipment, a John Deere 45 combine, in 1967 with his father. He began farming with his brother Joe that same year. Ronnie and Sarah purchased their first farm, 70 acres, in 1970.
“Several things stand out which really helped me later on,” Ronnie says. “I attended the Purdue University Short Course in 1967, and I picked up lots of good information and contacts through that program.
“I also looked up to three people whom I considered as my mentors. My dad was one of them. The other two were Ledward Smith, my ag teacher and FFA advisor at Hancock Central, now part of Greenfield Central; and John Cole, a farmer in the area. They had a great influence on me and helped me start out on the path that led to where we are today.”
The Mohrs have two farming entities: R&S Mohr Family Farms Inc. and Circle M Farms LLC. When their sons, Andy and Eric, wanted to farm, Ronnie and Sarah formed Circle M Farms to help the boys transition into the business.
Both sons are full-time firefighters. A nephew, Sean Youngclaus, also a full-time firefighter, has joined the operation as well, picking up some of Joe’s interest as he looks toward retirement.
“With all three being professional firemen and having schedules with large blocks of time off, it really works out well from a labor standpoint here on the farm,” Ronnie says. “They can still work off the farm and contribute here as well.”
Another fireman, Greg Smith, also helps out, Ronnie adds.
Eric and his wife, Lisa, also operate a Beck’s seed dealership as part of Circle M Farms.
Between the two farming entities, the Mohrs have 20 landlords, with a variety of lease arrangements.
“We try to set up an arrangement the landowner is comfortable with and make it work,” Ronnie explains.
While the Mohrs had livestock in the past, raising hogs until 1998, they don’t have any livestock today. Instead, they typically raise a 50-50 mix of corn and soybeans in rotation.
They practice minimum tillage on most ground and no-till on highly erodible land. Typically, they run a vertical-tillage tool over cornstalks in the spring. Following soybean stubble, they run a field cultivator and soil crumbler ahead of the planter for corn.
Their goal is to plant corn and soybeans at the same time, running a 24-row Deere corn planter and a 1790 Deere split-row soybean planter. They operate two combines in the fall, feeding grain into a grain facility that they upgraded recently.
Check out the slideshow to see photos of the Mohr operation, and read what others have to say about Ronnie and Sarah and their Master Farmer nomination.