(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association / Joclyn Bushman)
Member spotlight: Marc Schneider, DeWitt
July 6, 2023 | Jeff Hutton
Marc Schneider was raised on an Iowa farm, growing corn, soybeans, hay and oats. The family also had a sizable sheep herd and a farrow-to-finish hog operation.
But in the 1980s, he went to college and pursued a different path — supply chain and logistics. For more than 25 years, Schneider traveled, lived and worked in California, Australia, Singapore and other stops in Southeast Asia. He focused his skills on industrial goods, aerospace, automotive, construction equipment, consumer goods, supply chain management, mergers and acquisitions, facility startups and the implementation of logistics programming.
It was rewarding work, but the call to return to the farm was even stronger.
“I needed to get back to my roots,” Schneider says. “I wanted more control of my destiny.”
Singapore to soybeans
He returned to the family farm 14 years ago, effectively transitioning the farm’s management from his father, who was nearing retirement.
“I sold my condo in Singapore and bought my first farm in 2009,” he says, noting that his primary emphasis is on soybeans, corn and a sizable number of cover crop acres.
His past work in supply chain management has proven beneficial as he navigates the fields outside of Lost Nation in eastern Iowa.
“The biggest benefit with supply chain experiences has been understanding the business side of farming,” he says.
The changes in the market, price fluctuations, COVID, the trade war with China and seeing how the ag sector made its way through all those trials has been an education, Schneider says.
“The impacts, the ups and downs of the ag market is not a challenge per se, but creates an understanding of the cycles,” he adds.
Since returning to the farm in 2009, Schneider is learning a different kind of management. This time: the farm. He says understanding how cash-intensive farming is and managing cash flow has been challenging, but he’s adjusting.
“You have to identify what’s in your control and the things you can’t control,” he says. “It’s about how best to mitigate those risks. I try and stay on top of it, but I don’t worry about what I can’t influence.”
Expanding his skill set
Schneider has participated in a few Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) programs and says he appreciates ISA’s emphasis on education and development.
“It’s not just soybeans, but there’s an emphasis on overall farm operations,” he says.
Schneider is part of ISA’s Communications Squad, a program that helps farmers and those in the ag industry gain skills so they’re more confident in sharing their farm or industry story.
“For me, farming is the complete package,” Schneider says. “You’re the chief marketing officer, the chief technology officer and you have to know agronomy and science. You must be good at purchasing, seeding your crops, business planning, risk management and more; that’s makes it interesting for me.”
And ISA involvement is reflective of Schneider being able to be his own boss.
“I enjoy running my own enterprise and seeing it from beginning to end,” he says. “You see the results of how the decisions and the choices you make either pay off or they don’t. Having the opportunity to be in charge of your own business, your own life and making your own decisions and experiencing the impact of those decisions is great.”
Schneider says he hopes to engage in more conservation efforts while also being more productive and profitable.
“I wouldn’t say I’m on the cutting edge of conservation, but certainly cover crops have had the biggest positive impact,” he says.
When he first started farming, he was implementing cover crops with about 60 acres — that’s now grown to 500 acres of rye this fall.
While it’s a lot of extra work, cover crops, Schneider says, have proven beneficial with weed control and retaining soil moisture, producing better crops.
While farming is Schneider’s fulltime job, he hasn’t completely escaped his previous work.
He also works part time with the Center for Industrial Research and Service at Iowa State University (ISU), providing management and support to manufacturers across the state who aim to create growth and performance improvements. Those areas include supply chain management, transportation, warehousing and international logistics.
“I always say farming is my fulltime job and ISU is my hobby,” he says.
“I have the best career. I’m the happiest I have ever been.”