Farm Couples Work Together for a Successful Business, Marriage

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U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary  Tom Vilsack

Dinnertime is usually pretty quiet at Jeff and Keiley Banfield’s home. It’s not because the Moore County Farm Bureau members, who have been married for 12 years, are upset with each other.

“There are a lot of meals where we won’t say a word to each other because we’ve got nothing to talk about. We’ve already discussed everything,” Jeff Banfield says. “And we’re OK with that.”

The Banfields balance two full-time operations. They run a 160-acre farm with about 80 head of Charolais and Red Angus beef cattle. Plus, they operate Banfield Backhoe Service, a business where they clear lots, handle grading and offer other outdoor services.

“More people come to us and say, ‘I couldn’t do it,’” Keiley Banfield says. “The arguments are few and short-lived, but there are a few. You have to expect them.”

Jeff and Keiley Banfield met in Massachusetts when Jeff was managing a Charolais farm on Martha’s Vineyard, Keiley’s home area. Jeff Banfield wanted to relocate back to Aberdeen and Southern Pines, and he persuaded  Keiley Banfield to do the same thing because of the amount of equine activity in the region.

Just before they were married, Jeff Banfield also started the backhoe business. After the nuptials, the couple realized the best way to handle all of their chores and responsibilities was to forge a partnership beyond their wedding vows.

“We certainly don’t have the biggest operation around, but everything is micromanaged,” Jeff Banfield says.

The Banfields are not alone. Pick a county, and Farm Bureau members who are married and juggle the responsibilities of family, farm and more are plentiful.

For example, Robeson County Farm Bureau members Louie and Vicki Bodenhamer oversee their operation and team up with their son and his wife to keep things moving. Wilkes County Farm Bureau members Chad and Cindy Blake raise chickens and cattle and grow tobacco and other row crops with Chad’s parents while raising four children. Person County Farm Bureau members Johnny and Sharron Rogers raise cattle and goats and sell freezer beef to consumers though their store and at local farmers markets. Alleghany County Farm Bureau members Buddy and Della Deal operate a Christmas tree farm, as well as a greenhouse, while raising three children. And Yadkin County Farm Bureau members Kevin and Cindy Matthews run a strawberry operation that’s become so successful that Cindy left another profession to concentrate on it full-time.

Whether it’s choosing what bull to breed or what grading job to handle, Jeff and Keiley Banfield say they carefully consider all their options before making major decisions. That’s been one of the keys that has helped them navigate any pitfalls and maintain a healthy relationship.

“Be patient,” Keiley Banfield says.

“I was going to say that’s the No. 1 thing,” Jeff Banfield adds.

“Don’t take it out on each other,” Keiley Banfield chimes in. “Take a break and take small steps.”

Jeff Banfield went on to say, “We’ve done a lot of stuff, but it’s always been a little bit at a time. We’ve never just jumped in.”

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