Lance Lillibridge

Lance Lillibridge – Benton County

“If an engineer was going to design land to produce a crop, he would design it and build it just like Iowa.”

Lance Lillibridge always knew he wanted to be a farmer. An heir to a 100-year dairy farming family tradition, Lance spent the better part of his childhood setting an alarm for 4:30 AM to help milk the cows before heading off to school, only to return back with hogs in a 7000 head farrow to finish. His curiosity for farming grew into a passion, which landed him where he is today, farming 2700 acres and running a successful red angus cow calf operation in Benton County, Iowa.

Growing up in the 1980s presented a unique set of challenges for the agricultural industry. As the farm recession swept the Midwest, farmland value dropped, sending many farmers into a financial crisis. Amid the state of farming, Lance’s high school agriculture teacher discouraged his students from becoming farmers. For Lance however, it was never a matter of if he would become a farmer, but when.

Upon graduating from high school, Lance moved to Iowa City, where he worked in a factory for five years before promptly returning to Oelwein, where he grew up. Lance remained patient in the pursuit of his own farming operation while entertaining multiple business ventures with his wife, Heidi, prior to farming, including having their own trucking company.

In 2001, Lance and Heidi bought and transformed their first piece of land into a housing development while simultaneously starting their farming operation in Benton County. That same year, Heidi and Lance also started their family, welcoming a beautiful baby girl into the world. It was that same little girl, years later, that would make Lance realize where he truly needed to invest a little more time. Between owning and running a trucking company, tending to a housing development and the upkeep of a farming operation, Lance knew, too, that it was time to prioritize his two biggest passions in life: family and farming. Lance and Heidi sold their housing development and trucking company, and they used that money to expand their farm.

In the last two decades, Lance and Heidi have watched their farm and their family grow, of course with lots of patience and hard work. The family of four has taken what used to be 300 acres of crop ground and turned it into 2700 acres of corn and soybeans, on top of their impressive red angus cow calf operation. Lance and Heidi’s kids, Tess and Ty, help operate equipment and enjoy working with the cattle, taking them to shows around the country.

For Lance, farming is not what he considers to be a job; it’s a lifestyle, but definitely not an easy one. He acknowledges that Paul Harvey said it best when he said a farmer is, “somebody that gets up at daybreak and goes to bed after dark… somebody that gets his supper when the chores are done.” Lance knows many factors each cycle are out of his control, but dwelling on those uncontrollables does no good. When faced with adversity, Lance says, “It’s just going to have to be next year.”