(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)
Member Feature: Matt Diehl
July 19, 2022 | Jeff Hutton
He's he first to admit that without a career in farming, Matt Diehl of Osceola would be lost.
“I can’t imagine not getting up and farming every day,” he says, adding his lifeblood has been rooted in the farmland owned by four generations of his family.
Diehl, his wife Leslie and their three teenage children are now the caretakers of a cattle operation, 2,400 pigs and 700 acres of corn, alfalfa and soybeans. They also have a custom chopping business, working with several area producers.
As a kid, he received firsthand training alongside his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. They were there to help him navigate the unpredictable terrain that is farming.
And despite taking a brief detour for college and another job outside of the farm, agriculture never really left Diehl’s heart. He got back onto the tractor, returning to farming full time in 2008.
Passion for Ag
Like his elders once did, Diehl now imparts those lessons to his daughter and two sons, hoping they too may feel the same devotion he does toward the land and livestock.
It is this desire that drives Diehl toward success on the farm. “I’m so passionate about agriculture. I just need to grow things,” he says. “Farming challenges me.”
And the challenges are great – everything from the weather, fluctuating markets, modern technology and ever-increasing input costs, such as fuel and fertilizer, helps define an Iowa farmer’s life.
“It’s definitely stressful and tough, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I just love it,” he says.
The support of organizations like the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) have helped Diehl over the years.
“ISA is very good at getting soybeans into new ventures and helping create more markets,” he says. “It’s obvious with the work they’ve done, prices are as good as they have ever been. ISA has helped to create demand for soybeans.”
Diehl says he appreciates the research the organization conducts on behalf of soybean farmers.
“Whether it’s herbicides, new uses or cover crops, I like that they’re providing information back to the farmers,” he adds.
Diehl keeps abreast of what’s going on with farm policy and overseas trade through the Iowa Soybean Review, as well as weekly and periodic notices via ISA’s website and email.
While working the land and raising livestock will always be at the forefront of his daily life, Diehl appreciates time away from the farm, especially with family.
“My kids are pretty active in sports. We like to travel to their ball games,” he says. “We also like to go to the lake and boat, and we love to go to Colorado as a family.”
The Next Generation
But Diehl’s heart goes back to his work on the farm and his desire to see agricultural opportunities grow for him and his family as well as other young farmers.
“Right now, the input costs have to come down. It’s very tough for young guys to get started farming with the costs and the land prices or to find available land (to purchase or rent). We’ve got to find a way to make it a little easier for the 18-to-20-somethings so that they can farm; otherwise, we’re in trouble.”
Diehl says it’s up to his children to decide how or if they want to stay in agriculture.
“I want them to be successful at whatever they do,” he says. “Farming isn’t a job you can do if you’re not passionate about it.
“There are times you work 80-100 hours per week. No sane person would want to do it,” he laughs.
“I have buddies who work 40 hours a week and are always golfing or doing something else, but that’s not for me.”
If any of his children decide to move forward on the farm, Diehl says he will be “all in” to helping them succeed.
For Diehl, his heart and soul are firmly planted in the Clarke County farmland.
“It would be very difficult for me not to farm,” he says. “I don’t want to be sitting behind a computer at a desk in an office. I would go stir-crazy.
“There are very few days I get up thinking, ‘I don’t want to go to work.’ Just being able to do what you love every day. It’s in your blood. Working those 12-14 hours a day and seeing a crop coming up from the ground or seeing a calf being born, I just love it.”