John Nidlinger, Decatur, Ind., didn’t just urge Brad Kohlhagen to nominate a couple for the Indiana Master Farmer award — he encouraged Kohlhagen to nominate two couples. They happen to be neighbors: Max and Karen Beer and David and Gloria Sommer. Karen and Gloria are sisters. Yet both operations are unique and stand on their own merit. Here is a deeper look at the Sommers’ farm:
“In any conversation with Dave Sommer, you soon realize the depth of knowledge and passion he has for agriculture, as well as his concern for others,” Nidlinger says. “Being a great business manager is reflective in how he has built and structured his farm.
“Experiencing difficulties, like a major barn fire, has never deterred Dave, but rather he has persevered and flourished. As many witnessed during the 2015 Indiana Farm Management Tour visit to their farm, a tour of his farm is comparable to an upper-level farm management course at college.”
Doug Lehman, executive director of Indiana Dairy Producers, came away impressed after a conversation with Dave. “From the very first time I went to their farm, it is one that is always in immaculate condition — a real example of a showplace for agriculture,” Lehman says. “I will never forget the deep discussion Dave and I had while standing in one of the calf barns. I knew then he was about much more than just the farm. Life and family came to the forefront immediately.”
Kohlhagen, Purdue University Extension ag educator in Adams County, Ind., did nominate Dave and Gloria for the award. “Having and exhibiting skill and proficiency in your profession reflects a lifetime of sweat and determination,” he says, referring to the Sommers. “Both Dave and Gloria have devoted their lives to farming. They live by three words: faith, family and farming.
“They often lend a hand to friends and family in difficult situations. They are a positive influence in the community and lead by example.”
Kent Liechty, president and CEO of the First Bank of Berne, has benefited from their knowledge. “The Sommers have personally been a mentor for my career and my personal development,” he says. “I appreciate their willingness to invest in improving the lives of others.
“David and Gloria’s knowledge and demonstration of the abilities needed to succeed as leaders, coupled with their strong management skills will ensure future success for their farm operation.”
Bill Schwieterman, district sales manager for Specialty Hybrids, says, “Dave and Gloria are a sterling example of what it means to be a Master Farmer. I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to do business with them and their family, but more importantly, I truly cherish their friendship.
“Watching them invest themselves into the local community, family members and many others has been a joy of mine to see.”
John Carroll, an Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance agent, pays the Sommers an important compliment. “When my company asks for examples and tours of a dairy farm, they are always my first choice,” he says. “They maintain the farm tirelessly, always making it a showplace in our community. I would be hard-pressed to find a nicer farm in Indiana.”
Todd Mathewson, a crop consultant with Nutrien Ag Solutions, echoes that sentiment. “One of my favorite things witnessing after a 16-hour day, and the rest of the world is in bed, is Dave getting out the old 4020 to drag the driveway. If this doesn’t describe Sommer Farms and that ‘little bit extra’ they give, I don’t know what does!”