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Niche Farmers Brave the Cold Temperatures

LINN COUNTY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) Niche farmers grow more than just corn and soybeans, allowing them to diversify their land with other crops. It makes them more flexible to changes in the weather and also buys them some economic security.

"We're in to flowers in the spring, vegetables in the summer, sweet corn, tomatoes, said Kroul Farms Owner John Kroul.

"We raise pure-bred angus cattle, bulls and heifers, are coming yearling bulls, said Johnson County Farmer Steve Swenka.

It might mean more work but it also means that they dont have to depend exclusively on corn prices that can be high on year and take a dive the next. Farmers say corn was selling for as much as $8 per bushel last year. Now that price is cut in half.

"It's pretty unique the last few years it's been pretty profitable in corn and beans so it's a lot easier to raise corn and beans, said Kroul.

But when it inevitably comes back down, the change isnt something that can make or break a diverse farm. Most of Swenkas business is cattle-related and corn accounts for only a third of what Kroul produces.

"Your gross income per acre is much higher off vegetable production so you don't have to invest in high priced farm ground, said Kroul.

Still, the pair say their brand of specialized growing isnt very popular, but it might be if it becomes harder for other farmers to make a profit selling grain.

"They're going to start looking at more different markets if they want to survive, said Kroul.

Kroul also says growing vegetables helps younger farmers break into the business since it requires fewer resources to get started.
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