Daniel Milam is twenty-three years old, and a farmer in upstate South Carolina.
Daniel grew up just south of Charlotte, North Carolina in the suburban community of Matthews. Both sets of grandparents were farmers. His paternal grandparents own a small cattle farm near Clemson, South Carolina. His mother’s family grew peanuts and timber in South Georgia.
He recalls his childhood summers fondly, “As early as age nine, I was loading hay during summers. My grandfather was a great mentor, teaching me a love for farming. I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to agriculture.”
The problem? Most kids growing up in the suburbs of our cities can’t afford to start a farm—land and equipment don’t come cheap, and knowledge must be earned.
“I knew starting my own farming operation would be a difficult task with little money, no equipment, and no land,” Daniel recalls. “Not to mention that farming over the past few decades hasn’t been the most profitable venture for the smaller operator.”
As an Ag student at Clemson, Daniel did his research, seeking alternative crops that could provide enhanced revenue per acre. He eventually reached out to the Clemson extension service for their advice and ongoing guidance. “I needed to increase profit margins so I would be able to afford to buy equipment and land,” he says. “And after researching different ideas of crops and commodities that may be more profitable, I heard about Canola.”
Knowing very little about the crop, Daniel ran across a company in northern Georgia by the name of AgStrong, which buys canola. “Robert Davis and his team at AgStrong were very informative and their support has been a boon for this under-resourced farm boy.”
After a year of searching for land to lease, Daniel’s dream has become reality.
“The first year of canola production was very encouraging, providing me with an income and an ability to invest in more equipment.”
“I am still a very small farming operation, farming approximately 100 acres of leased land, but am constantly trying to expand. I currently dedicate my winter rotation to canola with the possibility of expanding acreage in the next couple of years.”