South Dakota Soybean Stories: Heather Beaner

This April, we headed out to Mellette, SD to chat with Heather Beaner as she prepared for planting season on her farm, that’s been in her family for four generations. Although Heather had an unconventional return to the family operation, her farming roots run deep. Today, she oversees their family operation, where she farms corn and soybeans alongside her husband, Matt, who came to work on the operation full-time in 2021.

 

Being a female farmer is becoming more prevalent, but Heather isn’t unfamiliar with being the only female in a male-dominated industry. As a military lawyer, she holds strong with sharing opinions and presenting her knowledge of farming and pulling in law when necessary.

Heather Beaner

Women are recognized in the industry and on farms more than ever, with over half of all farms having at least one woman decision-maker and over 1.2 million women producers in the industry. When we asked Heather how she has seen women taking over more of the farming industry and getting more involved she said,

“I focus on the strengths and specific talents females can bring to their operations and to the board room. Women think differently, we bring a new perspective.. I tell women who are interested in getting involved in any facet of agriculture – figure out what you enjoy and figure out the part that you like and your skill set and where your strengths are at… work on where your strengths are and how you feel you could leverage them for whatever operation you end up in. Do your research, intern, get out there and see what opportunities are there!”

chickens

Planting prep for the Beaners includes maintenance, re-strategizing and resetting technology for new machinery, and making sure all is ready and in order once the ground warms up.

In the years leading up to Heather’s return to the family operation, she relied on her law degree to make sure a succession plan was in place. Although many return to work on their family farm, few take the necessary steps for takeover and official buy-in, which Heather says, is required for it to operate as an actual business 

“My time in the Air Force and my legal background make me pretty analytical and I’m good at taking a situation and taking it apart and analyzing it. With my legal background, it makes some things on the farm easier with paperwork or legalities.”

If you’re interested in getting more involved in your community, reach out to your local leaders. For more South Dakota Soybean Stories, check out harvest with Mike McCranie and animal sustainability with the Brent and Mollie Brent and Mollie Greenway.Truck