Jeremy Jack – Silent Shade Planting Company

My name is Jeremy Jack, and I am a co-owner of Silent Shade Planting Company, a family-owned and family-operated farming business based in Belzoni, Mississippi.  We farm approximately 11,000 acres of corn, soybeans, cotton, rice and peanuts in Humphreys, Leflore and Holmes County.  However, my family’s farming history first began in Ontario, Canada, where my father and mother both grew up on family farms.  After marrying my mother, my father realized that urban sprawl near his farm in Ontario would prevent the expansion of his family farm.  In 1979, my parents made the decision to move to Silent Shade Plantation in Tchula, Mississippi, where they started farming 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans and cotton.

Silent Shade Planting Company has evolved over the past 37 years, and what started as a husband and wife 1,000 acre row crop operation has flourished into a family business employing six family members: Willard Jack, Laura Lee Jack, Stacie Koger, Trey Koger, Elizabeth Jack and I.  Each of the family members is directly involved in the day-to-day operations of our farm and trucking business.  My mother, Laura Lee, manages our trucking business, and she also leads our harvest combine crew each fall.  My father, Willard Jack, manages our equipment hauling and trucking sales.  My sister, Stacie Koger, who worked for seven years as a CPA at a local accounting firm, now serves as our CFO, and she also markets our crop.  Her husband, Trey Koger, who has his Ph.D. from Mississippi State in Weed Science, is our Senior Agronomist, and my wife, Elizabeth Jack manages our human resources, public relations, safety and compliance.  Lastly, I work in the role of CEO/COO at our operation.

As CEO of our business, it is my job to set our goals and create a culture for success. Part of our culture is making ourselves adaptable and open to change.  Agriculture is an ever-changing industry.  One of my mentors, Danny Klinefelter, who is a professor and extension economist at Texas A&M, once told me, “If it ain’t broke, you haven’t looked hard enough.”  If we have been doing something the same way for years, I try to look for ways to improve the process.  To stay abreast of the latest innovations in agriculture, I participate in peer groups and continued education.  In addition, my brother-in-law, Trey Koger, performs many research trials on our farm so that we can be better informed of products being tested for the marketplace.

During the past ten years, one of the areas on our farm that we have seen the most change is in technology.  For example, new cloud-based agriculture technology, such as Granular, has given us the opportunity to discover our cost per acre so that we can make better decisions about our crop mix and application of inputs.  We also use cloud-based John Deere technology for variable rate planting and input application, which helps us to accurately put the right input in the right place and eliminate waste.  The John Deere cloud technology also allows us to be able to watch our tractors progress through a job order, determine what part needs to be fixed in the event of a break down, or discover how often the tractor lays idle during the day.  Lastly, moisture meters and flow meters are two tools we started to employ last year to help us eliminate waste in irrigation and study closely the impact that we are having on our aquifer.  It is hard to believe that this technology that we now rely so heavily on to make our business more efficient and sustainable was not available just nine years ago when I came back to work on the farm.

While we may change technology, equipment, seed, and inputs each year to remain competitive, one thing that doesn’t change is family.  I feel privileged to be able to work each day with my family, and to be able to raise my son on a family farm where he can learn the same work ethic and values that my parents taught me.  I also consider our twenty-three employees as an extension of our immediate family as well.  Several of those employees have been with us for ten or more years, and they have been a very large part of our success as our business has evolved.  For that reason, every decision I make is with my family and our employees in mind, and my end goal is to make our farm sustainable – both environmentally and economically – so the next generation can have the amazing opportunity that I have been given.