“We have been farming here since the early 1900s,” said farmer and entrepreneur Trent Kubik. “My great-grandfather homesteaded here in 1909 and we have been farming and ranching here ever since and doing wildlife hunting since 2006 when we started our hunting lodge.”
Trent started a farm and ranch in 2013 with his wife Shannon and his two brothers Troy and Bruce Vanderwerff. The family business has continued down the generations as a corn, soybean, milo, alfalfa, and cow-calf operation.
“We just crossed the century mark about a decade ago raising cattle and growing crops,” said Trent.
The farm and ranch is located in south central South Dakota, which Trent refers to as “the golden triangle of South Dakota when it comes to pheasant hunting.”
“We all have our role and we all try to do a little bit of everything.” – Trent Kubik
“Between Chamberlain, Winner, and Gregory, we are kind of right in the center and that is where we farm, raise cattle, and have [Antler Ridge Lodge], as well,” said Trent.
Trent and his brother Troy also own Elevate Agronomics in Winner, which they started in 2020 and provides things like corn (silage and grain), soybeans, alfalfa, livestock products, seed treating, soil mapping and testing, pest control, seed cleaning, crop protection, and Elevate Agronomics Programs.
The hunting lodge, Antler Ridge Lodge, is also in Hamill and is mostly run by his parents, Steve and Donna. Built in 2006, the 6,000-square-foot lodge accommodates up to 16 hunters at a time, and in 2008 the Kubiks added a smaller lodge to complement the main lodge with up to four hunters at a time.
Working with family can be challenging at times.
“It is a little crazy at times, if I am being honest. I think everybody that works with their families, especially when there’s a lot of operations that are brothers or parents that are operating together, it’s not all roses all the time… but it makes it a lot more enjoyable,” said Trent.
Trent and Shannon have two boys, Landon (now 4) and Layton (now 1).
“They love all the things with the farm,” said Shannon.
“For somebody who is removed from the farm, I would like them to know that the care that we take and the pride that we take in producing the products that go into people’s everyday lives and some of the hardships that we face.” – Trent Kubik
What’s also not “roses all the time” as a farmer is dealing with the elements.
“When it comes to weather, it dictates everything we do. Whether it’s crops, cattle, or our ag retail business. For example, if it’s raining in the morning, that shuts everything down,” said Trent. “During harvest season when everything is ramped up and ready to go, we have everything set out from the night before. If we wake up and even if it is a sprinkle, it really shuts things down and we have to change focus on the fly.”
Trying to stay positive can be a challenge at times in moments like these.
Trent’s great-grandfather’s homestead is still standing near the farm’s property today.
“That takes a toll, especially mentally, seeing crops dying in the field every day,” said Trent. “To farm here in south central South Dakota, you have to be pretty strong-minded, because this is not the first year and probably will not be the last year that this has happened.”
He notes that a popular phrase for these moments is, “There’s always next year.”
“There are a lot of things that are in our control that we fumble sometimes and learn from, and lord knows we have had a lot of learning curves over the past 10 years when my brothers and I started farming on our own,” continued Trent, “but it’s one of those things that you have to remind yourself that you are not in control, God is in control of this so we just have to manage around it and how do we make decisions based on it and we are always hopeful for next year.”
Trent represents District 9 with the SD Corn Growers Association and got involved around four years ago. Focusing on policy, Trent says they work directly with state representatives locally in the state legislature as well as U.S. senators and representatives in Washington, D.C. to ensure policy doesn’t affect farmers’ right to farm.
“It’s ensuring that there are the tools available from a policy side that will help farmers as well as not having too much policy and regulation to really harm the way farmers operate. Our primary focus is outreach,” said Trent. “We’re a member based organization, so farmers in South Dakota pay membership dues and that is where our revenue comes from to work on these issues.”
Growing up, Trent says he knew about SD Corn from seeing the marketing side, but being part of the group has made him realize the impact it has on the biggest industry in South Dakota.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Trent’s wife Shannon shares how Thanksgiving and Christmas have a special place in their hearts for different reasons.
+ The hunting lodge here gets completely decorated during the holiday season. My mother-in-law has every Christmas tree you could ever imagine.
+ During Thanksgiving, we have a group of hunters that comes here every single year that gets together, and we spend time with them; so they are here to hunt, but also to eat Thanksgiving together, and we join them. They are basically a part of the family now.
+ Our family comes and hangs out here on Christmas together, which is really great getting Trent and all of his brothers together, so that is four boys and all the kids are here. Sometimes my mother-in-law’s entire family is here, she is one of nine, so we have lots of people here. Even my family, I grew up in Nebraska, but they will come up and we have all of our family get together here at the lodge because it is a great place for us to all hang out.
Trent says, “It really opened my eyes that if we didn’t have this voice as farmers, especially here in Pierre as well as on the federal level, we would struggle as farmers to do the things that we do.”
And it doesn’t just help farmers with corn.
“SD Corn not only helps corn farmers, but consequently we have soybean farmers, cattle producers, and land owners. We strive for all agriculture, and that is our main goal when we talk to these representatives from a policy front,” he said.
Check out the Other Family Businesses
Antler Ridge Lodge // antlerridgelodge.com
Elevate Agronomics // elevateagronomics.com/team-2
While being in a family business and dealing with the everyday challenges of farming can be difficult, Trent says his passion is also his career.
“[My family] is living out the dream in our eyes. We get to work with family, our family is right here,” said Trent. “We all live close together, our kids get to grow up together, and it’s pretty hard to beat this life, too. Sometimes it’s frustrating, don’t get me wrong, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”