If you follow ag radio, news, and crop reporting, you’ve heard the name Chip Flory. The iconic voice is quickly discernable, as are the insights and no-nonsense outlooks it provides farmers around the country twice a day every weekday.
This week, Mike is joined by Chip to talk through what continues to fuel his journalistic fires today, where the industry is headed, and the ins and outs of the Pro Farmer Crop Tour—from where it started to how the team arrives at the “magic number” every August.
We’re talking “soybeans with beaks,” the swamp full of rich men north of Richmond, and service-based journalism in this jam-packed AcreForward hour of knowledge and insights.
Fueling the Fire
“It made me mad to see what was happening to farms in the 1980s—1980-1981 was not a good time for the Flory farm in Jones County, Iowa. If a farm was operating and had even a little bit of equity or value that could be attained, they (lending institutions) would shut the doors on those farms and get what they could out of them. Frankly, it ticked me off. The Farm Crisis was a Savings and Loan Crisis. All savings and loan did was kick the loan further down, in some cases, it was just flat-out theft that happened. One of the things that intrigued me about Pro Farmer was the mission of leveling the playing field between grain buyers and farmers.” he says, recalling the struggles his dad and older brother fought through during the worst farm economic downturn since the Great Depression and a career-defining moment in the cab of his dad’s pickup truck.
As a high school student, Chip recalls his dad turning up the radio, taking note of the information coming from the Pro Farmer programs and turning the pickup around, halfway through a parts run to return to the house to make a few calls.
“My dad’s whole demeanor changed after he made those calls based on the information he had just heard. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do,” Chip remembers making the next step, putting what he had learned as a lifelong 4-H member to work. He set a goal and then built the framework to achieve it.
“If I want your job someday, what should I be doing,” Chip recalls making the call to ask Bob Kauffman, who at the time was one of the editors of the Pro Farmer magazine. That career-defining phone call — what was learned from the conversation — fueled by a passion for putting information in the hands of farmers like his dad drove the next four years of Chip’s education at Iowa State University.
“Believe it or not,” Flory says, “finals week of my senior year, last semester, Bob Kauffman called me to see how things were going. The next day, I had a job offer from Futures World News covering the commodity markets, with a focus on grain markets, in particular.”
He shares that a three-and-a-half-year stint at the Chicago Board of Trade helped him hone his risk management acumen and put a love for commodity markets into his DNA.
Chip tells Mike that by 1997, he had accomplished the goal that manifested in the cab of his dad’s truck more than a decade earlier. From 1997 to 2014, Chip served as the editor of Pro Farmer, to level the playing field by putting the information farmers needed in their hands when they needed it to make critical marketing decisions for their operation.
Less of How it Came to Be and More of What It Means to Me
Today, what fuels Chip’s journalist fires looks a little different than the issues that drove him in the 80s. The origination zip code is still the same, though.
“What gets me mad now is the willingness of our leadership to lie and treat us like we don’t know any better—it comes from both parties; it isn’t a bipartisan issue. There are way too many people in leadership positions who are flat-out willing to lie. What’s right doesn’t matter as much as supporting your party line…it is swampy north of Richmond, and it needs to get cleaned out,” he says.
The opportunity to discuss what makes him mad is plentiful these days, however, and while he is still manning the helm of news and market information, every day between the hours of 10:06 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. central. He’s also in charge of spearheading the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour and writes a weekly economic column for Farm Journal, and talks about policy and world issues. It’s messaging, news, and communication that touches the speakers of 110 affiliate station listeners and countless mailboxes throughout the year. Chip approaches every communication opportunity with a farmer-first, no-nonsense delivery.
In this episode, Chip also shares what he feels is the most critical technology in the industry today and in the future, the interesting history of the Pro Farmer Crop Tour, how to register to join the fun this week, how the Crop Tour team calculates yield estimates on corn and soybeans, and why we should all be watching soybeans in 2023 and beyond.
It’s all right here on this episode of the AcreForward Podcast!