Brandon Thiel: Power of Family
In #Agri-Ready Designated Saline County near Marshall, Brandon Thiel is a partner-owner of the family operation along with his father Bryan, his brother Alex, and his cousin, Joe Thiel. Brandon grew up on Thiel Farms, riding in tractors with his dad, anxious for the day he could farm full-time on the family farm as his career. Brandon earned a Plant Science-Crop Management degree from University of Missouri – Columbia. He began his agriculture career in seed sales in 2012 with Pioneer Hi-Bred International in New Madrid, Mo., as a soybean production agronomist. Then he experienced building a new sales district for Beck’s Hybrids in Marshall in 2015. Brandon is thankful that the POWER of Family made it possible for him to become a partner in the family farm in 2021.
Brandon enjoyed building relationships during the years he was selling seed, but his heart was at home on the farm in production agriculture. “While I was away from home, I made constant efforts to find opportunities to get behind the wheel of any tractor, helping local farmers and customers in their fields, or utilizing long weekends to head back home to help,” Brandon reminisced. “I am enjoying a unique blessing having had the opportunity to gain perspective working in agriculture off of the family farm, and now getting to return to production agriculture.”
Brandon loves the lifestyle. “I go to bed tired, I wake up tired, but I’m always doing something I love,” Brandon said. He and his wife, Kaitlin, have been married for four years and have a son, Louis, who is eighteen months old. They recently welcomed a baby girl to the family. “The best part of raising my family on the farm is the glow in my young son’s eyes when he gets to ride in the tractor with me, just like I did with my dad. It is a blessing to share your work with your son at such a young age. It is a gift that keeps on giving,” Brandon shared.
Something that sets Thiel Farms apart from other operations is their commitment to creating test plots and sharing the information they gather. “Sometimes I think I exhaust the family with test plots, but it is important to keep trying new things and learning. Our goal is to always be testing something new for the farm so we can best steward the land God has provided for us,” Brandon said. The Thiels trial several things, such as growing methods, seed varieties, modes of sprayers, and pesticide applications, to constantly improve the efficiency and sustainability of their farm. “We like practical on-farm trials, utilizing many acres at a time to get better results,” Brandon described. Thiel Farms, LLC grows corn and soybeans. Ninety percent of the corn the Thiel family grows is delivered to Mid-Missouri Energy, the farmer-owned ethanol plant in nearby Malta Bend.
Brandon’s vested interest in ethanol production makes him an excellent representative from Missouri to the National Corn Growers Association Ethanol Action Team, which crafts strategies and tracks the pulse of national policies that affect ethanol production and usage. His position on this team is a part of Brandon’s role as the District 5 representative to the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC) and the Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) board of directors. Brandon says the MCMC and MCGA work to shape policy and provide positive news about agriculture first, instead of needing to respond in defense to negative news media. Some of the biggest concerns corn growers face today are not from consumers, but from policymakers.
“Recently the EPA has proposed new rules around tail-pipe emissions. These rules force the hands of auto manufacturers so that two out of every three vehicles sold in 2032 will be an EV (Battery Electric Vehicle). This rule would destroy the demand of over 1 billion gallons of ethanol annually and have a direct impact on the livelihoods of crop farmers. We are working hard to build markets for our products,” Brandon said. “I serve on the Missouri Corn Growers Association to encourage support for good public policy like the Next Generation Fuels Act, that will pave a way for liquid fuels including ethanol, a cleaner burning and environmentally-friendly fuel to exist for years in the future.”
Brandon’s conversation about corn connects the crop to every consumer. “It is important for corn farmers to be able to be productive because a crop like corn isn’t just used for animal feed and ethanol; it makes corn syrup and plastics and has 4,000 other industrial uses consumers rely on every day,” Brandon said.
In his community, Brandon volunteers on his church congregation board of properties and participates on the Marshall FFA Alumni Board. In addition to serving on the Missouri Corn board, Brandon is a member of the Missouri Farm Bureau, partners of Missouri Farmers Care.