‘Faces of Food’ Features NSA Leader
Sunday, January 1, 2023
filed under: Utilization/Trade
Baldwin, N.D., producer Clark Coleman will never forget the April 2022 blizzards.
“It was probably most challenging week of cattle that I’ve ever seen,” Coleman says in a new documentary produced by ADM. The documentary series, titled “Faces of Food,” shows the hard work, tough decision-making and dedication that goes into feeding the world.
Clark and his brother, Curt, are fourth-generation producers on their family farm just north of Bismarck, near Baldwin, N.D. Clark has served on the National Sunflower Association Board of Directors for the past decade, including terms as president and, most recently, board chairman. He was NSA?chairman at the time of the April 2022 blizzards.
After graduating from NDSU with degrees in agriculture, Clark’s twin sons, Cooper and Clint, are now working on the farm too. “They will be the fifth generation on the farm. We’re pretty proud of that, trying to keep the legacy going,” says Coleman in the “Faces of Food” video. Together, the four men make up DJ Coleman Farms, which includes about 8,000 acres of crops and 500-600 head of beef cattle.
Their cattle, and the 2002 spring calving season, became the centerpiece of the ADM video.
“Calving is a big deal for us. It's a very high maintenance, all-hands-on-deck process — and that's without a blizzard,” Coleman states. “So, you put a blizzard into the deal, and it just really changes everybody’s lives for however long that blizzard is, you know. We just can't afford to lose the calves — and when you do lose calves, you feel bad about it because they're our responsibility. We’re supposed to take care of them.”
The ADM video was scheduled to be filmed right during the first of two blizzards that hit the Bismarck area in April 2022. Together, the two blizzards dumped more than 18 inches of snow in the Bismarck area. Add calving and a film crew to the mix, and Coleman says the project almost didn’t happen.
“There were many times I was ready to say, ‘This isn't going to happen,’ ” Coleman recalls. “The film crew was already in town, and we were supposed to have a little break in between the two blizzards. So it just worked out. And it turned out to be a good thing because it allowed people to see what we really do go through.”
In the video, Coleman recalls trying to get the cattle in the dark with his son, Cooper. They got lost several times and finally had to turn back.
“My son got off the Ranger and walked about 10 feet with a powerful spotlight, and I couldn't see him anymore. I thought, ‘Oh my God, he shouldn't be out there,’ ” Clark says.
Coleman is often the first producer to volunteer to share his story. He’s done numerous interviews for different publications and broadcast outlets.
“He’s the first guy to volunteer to have somebody out to the field to show what he’s doing, show the results of his work and share that with the public,” says Guy Christensen, Coleman’s ADM representative. The Colemans market their sunflower crop through Christensen. They take soybeans and much of their wheat to the ADM plant in Hensler, N.D., and canola to the ADM plant in Velva, N.D.
“I've done a lot of different things with ADM, and not all of it has been successful,” Coleman relates in the video. “But a lot of it has been very successful. It has taught me a lot of lessons about how to do different things.”
The Colemans do many different things in their operation. In addition to the 500 to 600 head of cattle, they plant as many as 13 different crops. Their regular rotation includes sunflower, yellow peas, edible beans, soybeans, wheat, malting barley and corn. They also run a trucking business, a custom corn chopping business and a corn maze.
Clark says diversification has been the key to their success. “I know that there are a lot of producers that don't have land that’s suitable for cattle in our area,” he explains. “But where we farm, we might have a section of land that has 420 acres of farmland, but the rest isn’t farmable. That’s why cattle work for us; they help utilize that land and make it productive.”
Coleman hopes sharing their story — the good and the bad — might help people better understand what farmers and ranchers like he, his brother and his sons do every day at DJ Coleman Farms.
“Everybody loves a story,” Clark affirms. “Whether it's good story or bad story, people love to hear stories from farming and ranching. I’m not a good storyteller, but I can sure add to a story. So, when people ask for help telling the stories about things that I'm living every day and take for granted, I think it’s a good opportunity to share our story and maybe help some people understand what we do here on our place.
“People take it for granted that they go to the grocery store and the food they want will be there. We’re just a tiny piece of the puzzle; but if we can help people understand what producers do, I’m all for that.”
You can watch all the “Faces of Food” videos online at admadvantage.com/ faces-of-food . — Jody Kerzman
All photos courtesy ADM