Mark and Allen Venteicher's Massena Livestock Sales rin

Mark and Allen Venteicher own Massena Livestock Sales. Mark is the auctioneer at all the livestock auctions.

The Last Word: A matter of trust

January 20, 2021 | Ann Clinton

And just like that, it’s 2021. In this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review, we analyzed how farmers get information. As resources have moved online, it’s created opportunities for agricultural spokespeople to have broader platforms. Content experts can communicate with farmers around the world.

That extent of connectivity can be considered a blessing and a curse. As a farmer, you can find YouTube tutorials on how to calibrate your tractor’s GPS. You can find your perfect combine three states away. But you can also be swallowed by too much information, making it difficult to discern what’s best for your operation. 

Your farming resources are no longer confined to the county lines; they’re suddenly worldwide. 

Who do you trust and why? 

As it’s become easier to research and obtain agronomic information online, there’s still so much to be said for one-on-one relationships in farming communities.

I’ve been working in agriculture for several decades, and I’ve written countless stories on technological advances. As much as things have changed, I’ve learned one thing for sure from you farmers … personal relationships with people you trust still matter.

I’m originally from a small town in southwest Iowa, and a lot of people from there are involved in agriculture in one way or another. As we all know, it’s a small world, and it’s not unusual to run into someone who has a connection to my hometown. 

More times than not, that connection is Mark Venteicher. Seemingly, EVERYONE knows Mark.

Mark owns the local sale barn, Massena Livestock Sales, with his father Allen. A gifted auctioneer, Mark personally conducts all the livestock sales. He’s also a long-time salesman for Pioneer Seeds.

When the editorial team started to discuss content for this issue of the Review, I immediately knew I wanted to talk to Mark. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s been a natural conversationalist – he doesn’t know a stranger. He’s likable and funny. He calls people by name. He’s a straight shooter. Be careful what you ask him because he’ll tell what he thinks. As a result, people seem to like him. 

However, in full disclosure, Mark wasn’t super excited to talk to me. If I’d casually run into him at the local Cenex store, he would have been happy to chat. But, when I reached out with specific questions for this column, he would have liked to stay out of the spotlight. I totally pressured him into the conversation. 

Nevertheless, when you run the local sale barn and sell seed, it’s important to have a good rapport with farmers. I was curious about how Mark maintains his clients’ confidence in an online world. 

That would be a hard question to answer no matter who you are. But for someone like Mark, it’s not something he thinks about much. He treats people well because it’s important to him to do so. Trust is just an inevitable side effect of kindness. 

Why do you think farmers trust you? 

“I just tell people the truth,” says Mark. “People see me out in the community. It’s important to me to invest back, and I think people respect that.” 

Based on his stories, when Mark attends “corporate” events for Pioneer, the good ol’ boy must make quite a splash, which would explain some of his widespread popularity. But, at the end of the day, it’s his overall approach to life that makes him successful. 

“Mark cares so much about his customers and treats each one of them just like their farm is his farm,” says Alex Beatty, Mark’s supervisor and territory manager for Pioneer Seeds. “Mark is such a likable guy. He’s also friends with so many of his customers outside of his seed business. 

“He doesn’t want to sell them something that’s not top-notch because he knows he will likely be auctioning their cattle off,” continues Beatty. “He doesn’t want anyone to have a bad taste in their mouth for something he’s done somewhere else. He’s very aware of that kind of thing and wants the best for everyone.” 

Local agricultural spokespeople 

No doubt, you also know a Mark Venteicher, someone instrumental in your community’s vitality and success, yet uninterested in the limelight. Someone who is influencing agriculture by merely doing what they do with integrity. I’d love to hear more about these people. Send me a note and tell me about their story. 

Additionally, it’s important to us here at the Iowa Soybean Association for you to view us as a trusted source of agronomic information. Learn more what we do on your behalf at www. iasoybeans.com/ourwork

Thank you for what you do for agriculture. By just being a part of the industry, your voice is extremely important. 

Stay well, my friends. 

This story was originally published in the January 2021 issue of the Iowa Soybean Review. 


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