Why I Farm – McNeall Farms Inc.

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When Darin Byrd married Lisa McNeall in 1988, he not only gained a wife and started a family, but also got an invitation to join the family business, McNeall Farms Inc. Raymond and Carolyn McNeall, Darin’s in-laws, own the family farming operation in the Keytesville and Salisbury areas of Chariton County. Raymond, Darin and Kylen, Darin’s son, are the primary operators of the farm.

McNeall Farms produces corn and soybeans on 1,800 acres. The family has integrated a lot of precision technology techniques into its farming operation including auto steer, row shut offs, precision fertilizer application, zone sampling and drone scouting.

The day-to-day operations at the farm hardly feel like a job to Darin.

“I enjoy the challenges of each and every day,” he said. “I see a lot of people go to a job that they hate. I can’t imagine doing that. I truly love what I do. It’s not a job to me, it’s an adventure that never ends.”

Darin said the whole family gets involved in the adventure of the family farming business, but Raymond and Carolyn run the show.

“Raymond and Carolyn are the leaders of the operation,” he said. “Carolyn is our spiritual leader, dietician, taxi driver and, most of all, everyone’s grandma. Raymond is a part of everything that is going on in the operation. Raymond can always be seen working ground or hauling dirt. In fact, his favorite saying is, ‘It’s only dirt. If you don’t like it, move it.’”

Darin’s wife, Lisa, helps out as much as she can.

“I am involved with the family farm as much as possible, although I work outside the home as a family nurse practitioner,” Lisa said. “I help with moving people from farm to farm, running for supplies and, during harvest, occasionally drive the auger wagon.”

Darin and Lisa also had the opportunity to involve their kids in the farming business when they were growing up.

“I was very fortunate that my mother-in-law was wanting to watch my children as they were growing up,” Darin said. “That gave me the opportunity to see them every day. They frequently rode and slept in the tractor with myself or my father-in-law.”

These tractor rides must have struck a cord in Darin and Lisa’s children because they are both continuing their involvement in agriculture today, with Kylen working alongside his dad and grandpa on the family farm and their daughter, Madison, studying Science and Agricultural Journalism with a true passion for the industry.

In addition, Darin and Lisa’s nephew, Cameron Byrd, takes a break from being a financial advisor and comes back to the farm during harvest time to help out. Their niece, Savannah, also helps where she can when she is not working as a speech pathologist.
Lisa said she is proud to come from this farm family because they are hard workers and get involved in the community.

“I am proud because farmers feed the world, provide for the community and are the hardest working people you will ever meet,” she said. “It is a very respectable occupation and I’m proud because I come from a long line of farmers.”

Darin said that his entire family is proud of their operation and loves what they do on the farm, but more importantly who they do it for.

“We just really love what we do as a family business,” he said. “As a farmer, we know who has given us the land and has asked us to take care of it for Him. We rely heavily on our faith in our Lord God. He is the backbone of our operation and our life as a whole.”

Darin plans to continue farming alongside his family and Lisa’s plans follow the same path.

“I hope to someday be able to retire from my family nurse practitioner job and just help on the farm more,” Lisa said. “I used to as a child and young adult, and I would love to get back to it. My dad, husband and son all farm together, so I would like to help them in any way I can.”

Darin and Lisa plan to eventually pass the operation down to the next generation. Darin’s only hope is that they continue farming with the same faith-driven attitude that currently drives the business.

“I just pray that my family continues to keep a positive outlook on life and that it involves faith and family,” he said. “The farming operation will survive with those two in tact.”