R/F Farm: Adding Value To A Family Farming Legacy

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Dylan Rosier is a member of the fourth generation of his family to farm near Mound City in #Agri-Ready Designated Holt County. In the 1940s, his great-grandfather, Lloyd Rosier, loaded his farm assets onto a train in western Nebraska and returned to Missouri. “My kids are among nine grandchildren that could be the next generation to live and work on our family farm. We want to provide a way for them to come back to the family farm because our past generations did that for us,” Dylan said. Over the last few years, the Rosier family has built a custom craft distillery and created a new revenue stream from their farm by marketing their own bourbon whiskey and craft spirits. The R/Farm brand is adding value to the Rosier family farming legacy “From Field to Finish”. 

Over the years, the original Rosier farm grew from a 120-acre homestead to hundreds of acres that grow corn as the family’s main revenue source. Dylan, his parents, Kirby and Kim, and two brothers, Cole and Gage, are focused on building opportunities for the next generation to return to the farm. They realized if the family increased production acres to provide enough revenue, the outlook would become unrealistic, unfeasible, and unmanageable. The Rosiers knew the best way to provide for the next generation was to add value to the crops they were already growing.

The family explored several options but decided together that building a distillery would be an exciting way to add value to their corn. Bourbon is produced with 51% corn by law. “That’s who we are. We are corn farmers,” Dylan said. “Growing corn is what we know and what we like to do. Expanding to a distillery was a good fit for who we are.” The family invested two years into research, exploration, and planning that proved R/Farm distillery would provide opportunities in licensing, marketing, sales, operations, equipment, and distribution to support more family members over years to come. 

The R/Farm “Field to Finish” process for a “batch” of whiskey includes milling, cooking, fermenting, and distilling time and takes most of a week. Each batch of whiskey starts with 2,000 pounds of grain. At the end of the production line, three barrels of whiskey are produced. A barrel holds 53 gallons, and the Rosiers fill five bottles out of each gallon. “Labor is the limiting factor that restricts how much whiskey we can produce at this time. If we were able to keep the production process running nonstop year-round, we could use around 10,000 (approximately 560,000 pounds) bushels of the corn we grow each year,” Dylan said. 

“We are not just raising the commodity of corn anymore. We get to interact face-to-face with our consumers,” Dylan said. His parents help manage the farm facilities and provide perspective for the family’s new endeavor. Dylan handles the business responsibilities, licensing, and state and federal regulations, while his wife Lauren provides support across various departments as needed. His brother Cole distills the R/Farm product. His brother Gage manages bottling schedules and logistics. Sister-in-law Ashley uses her marketing degree to execute strategies and distribution, often by personally delivering products. Sister-in-law Holly oversees special events and tastings, providing the community offerings to enjoy onsite at R/Farm Distillery. “We never imagined we would have so many people in northwest Missouri visit our farm,” Dylan said. “But last year, 10,000 people did.” The whole family works together with “all hands-on deck” during corn planting and harvest season, when the task of a successful crop becomes a priority on the farm. 

The R/Farm flavored vodka product line has a unique story to tell. The Rosiers buy beverage grade grain neutral spirits (GNS) from the local ethanol plant and process them into R/Farm vodka products at their distillery. This is the same ethanol plant where the Rosier family sells corn they harvest from their fields. In a roundabout way, their corn is still contributing to this product, and at the end of the day, the family is keeping their product hyper-local.

In 2023, R/Farms was awarded a Show-Me Entrepreneurial Grants for Agriculture (SEGA) Innovation Grant through the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) housed in the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The SEGA grants were designed to help farmers, small businesses, and higher education institutions add value to agricultural products in Missouri or provide educational opportunities to those seeking to do so. The Rosiers are using the grant funds to help expand their bottling capacity and storage facilities. “Our bottling process is very manual labor-intensive, and two of our machinery sheds are classified as government bonded warehouses. As it turns out, you can’t just stick barrels of whiskey anywhere on the farm,” Dylan joked. 

The Rosier’s expanded facilities will create more capacity to add value to more Missouri agriculture products, strengthening the agricultural economic engine of #Agri-Ready Designated Holt County. According to the 2021 Missouri Economic Contribution of Agriculture and Forestry study, grain crops were top contributors to the county’s $75.1 million of total value-added products, $182.7 million of total product output, and provided $21.3 million in household incomes to Holt County citizens.

The Rosier family is proud to have exceeded their goals for accounts and cases sold in 2023. Looking ahead to 2024, they are working to secure a distributor and develop aged products. The family is also focused on expanding marketing efforts to increase brand awareness and customer experiences. Want to explore R/Farms and their products? Visit them online and on social media. Dylan serves on the board of directors for the Missouri Corn Growers Association, a partner of Missouri Farmers Care.