Growing a following
Ask Jay Hill when he decided to get into farming and he recalls sitting in a sandbox made from a tractor tire, watching his dad farm their small, 10-acre operation.
Surprisingly, Jay’s father, Jim, wasn’t keen on his son taking over on the farm. He wanted his son to go to college and get a steady job. But the thought of a life in an office, behind a desk, was a non-starter.
So, at age 16, while most boys are thinking about cars, sports or dates, Jay came to his father with a proposal. Let him take over the 10 acres, work together to develop a business plan for the farm, and see where that took the operation.
Now covering more than 18,000 acres across four counties in two states, Jay Hill collaborates with multiple likeminded business partners to employ more than 120 staff, run a cattle operation and produce a wide variety of crops.
“It’s a farm that’s been built by our people,” Jay said. “Not me, not my dad, not my brother, Ross. Our success is due to our people.”
This success is part of the story Jay feels compelled to share through his various social media channels. In his mind, there is no facet of farming that’s too small or insignificant for people to know about. His passion helps him find the beautiful in the routine.
“So many people that are accustomed to ag life… It’s what they know. It’s who they are, so they don’t feel the same need to show everything,” Jay said. “I love every aspect of what we’re doing. For me, it’s a revelation every day.”
It’s important that we act with transparency, because people will continue to write laws, create regulations and shape opinions based on what they think agriculture should look like.”
Farmers produce the food, fuel and fiber that feeds and clothes America, and too few people fully understand that connection, according to Jay. His goal is to help more people connect the dots between agriculture and the everyday goods they may take for granted.
“I want people to be pumped up to meet a farmer,” he said. “I want them to say ‘Man, I’m glad that ag is there doing what needs to be done every single day.’”
That sense of appreciation is what led Jay to try out the Walls Outdoor Goods line of clothing.
“As a farmer, it’s cool to see a company supporting the ag industry,” he said. This support also comes through in the products, which are designed to hold up to the rigors of farm life, and Jay puts his Walls to the test.
From basic tasks like buying seed to technical matters such as steaming hay before reaping, Jay shows the day-to-day challenges faced by America’s ag producers. It’s a perspective that’s largely appreciated, earning him thousands of followers on Instagram, but there are a few of his fellow producers who aren’t as pleased.
“Some farmers think I share too much, show too much of what we do,” Jay said. “They’re worried that I’m going to do something to cause ag to stumble.”
But Jay adamantly believes it’s crucial people understand what ag is about. From the food on their tables to the clothes on their backs, people’s lives are impacted by America’s farmers and ranchers. And if they better understand what ag is about, Jay believes people will see how vital farmers are to our society and our world.
What they don’t understand is that if we don’t take care of the land, we have no way to survive next year… or the year after that.”
Caretaker. Much of the conversation keeps coming back to this word. Taking care of land, livestock and a nation of consumers, that’s what Jay sees as the mission of the farmer. And like all good caretakers, Jay keeps his eyes forward, looking ahead to what the next day might bring, the next season may produce or what the next legislative session may change.
“We do this for the future. We have to be looking toward the future or none of this matters,” he said. “So that’s what we do. We’re focused on the future, focused on our family and just blessed to be able to do what we do.”