To see Robert Nosbisch in his Carhartt t-shirt, well-worn Levi’s and John Deere cap, you might think he was born getting up before the sun and following it to bed.
But Nosbisch doesn’t work a farm that’s been in his family for generations. He works on one that’s been in his “family” less than a year.
After growing up in Dyersville and not taking any FFA or ag programs in high school, the 27-year-old still knew he wanted farming in his future.
“Ever since I was a young child, my grandpa, Jerome Lansing, had a farm south of Worthington,” Nosbisch said. “I’d always go down there and help during the fall and spring. He had that until I was a sophomore in high school, so I can say I kind of grew up on a farm in the fall and spring.”
Farmers know the demands of farming, but Nosbisch helped out because he enjoyed it, not because it was an assigned chore. “I’d go down there as much as possible,” he said. “I practically lived down there. I grew up playing with farm toys. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to farm.”
Nosbisch began showing dairy cattle at the fair his freshman year of high school. After his grandfather sold the farm, he worked on the dairy farm of his aunt and uncle, Cindy and Kenny Steffen, in the Holy Cross/Luxemburg area. “I worked for them for a summer,” Nosbisch said. “Since then I’ve been all about ag.”
He was also intelligent enough to know just “wanting” to do it wasn’t enough.
Nosbisch went to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and majored in agribusiness and dairy science.
After graduating, Nosbisch sold dairy feed for Three Rivers FS in Epworth for three years. It was then that he met Dan and Laurie Clemen, from Holy Cross.
“During that time, I helped them find hired hands over the years,” said Nosbisch. “I was to a point in my career where I was looking for something different. I talked to Dan and Laurie, and we came up with a deal where I’d work for them for a couple years, to see how things went.”
They apparently went well, as Nosbisch bought in at 15 percent of the business. “I love what I do,” he said.
Nosbisch believes his non-farming background is actually beneficial.
“I don’t have the mentality of, ‘My grandpa or dad always did it this way,’” he said. I’m thinking of it as a business. I have to make enough money to keep myself afloat.”
While he’s comfortable that he made the best decision for himself, he knows farming is not for everybody. That’s where education comes in.
“Go get an education,” Nosbisch said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of education. No matter if you farm or don’t farm, they can never take (your education) away from you. You always have that to fall back on. If farming doesn’t work out, you can always do something else ag-related.”
Nosbisch said his biggest challenge is the same one a lot of young farmers face. “For a young person getting in, where do you start? How do you fund it?” he said. I worked six years before I owned any of it. It’s hard to get the funding to start. You need to find someone willing to work with someone who’s young.”
Thankfully for Nosbisch, he did.
“You have to find the right people,” he said. “I got lucky.”
His words of wisdom to other young farmers are to get an education and embrace the latest technology.
“Everything is changing in farming, and it’s changing every day,” Nosbisch said. “In the famous words of Dan Clemen, ‘If you’re not moving ahead, you’re falling behind.’”