Paving the Way for Poultry Prosperity with Ira Wray


Ready to unravel the financial web of poultry farming? Ira Wray, known as the 'chicken man' of Western Kentucky, joins us to lay out the landscape of agricultural lending with the kind of expertise that only comes from years in the trenches. From his start under the wing of Seth Carter to becoming the go-to Relationship Manager for structuring complex poultry loans, Ira's journey is rich with insights. He doesn't just talk shop; he teaches us how to tailor financial strategies to meet individual farmer's needs, ensuring the growth and success of their agricultural endeavors.

Transitioning to the world of chicken farming isn't for the faint of heart, but with Ira's guidance, it's a path paved with opportunities. In this episode, we tackle the nuances of balancing property features against potential cash flow, the importance of land suitability and financial planning. Whether it's leveraging farming programs for newbies or veterans or diversifying operations, Ira's advice is golden for anyone considering a foray into farming. Plus, get a peek into the personal side of farm management and how family dynamics play a pivotal role in financial decisions.

Finally, we get down to brass tacks with poultry barn financing and the intricate dance with regulations. Ira walks us through the considerations of different poultry systems, the environmental impacts, and the financial implications of starting or expanding your chicken empire. We examine how to manage assets, navigate cash flow, and align financial strategies with the longevity of farm operations, all while keeping an eye on the personal shifts that come with diving into farming full-time. This episode isn't just a masterclass in poultry farming finance—it's a blueprint for thriving in the business of agriculture.


[00:00:08.250] - Chris Griffin
Welcome to Back to Your Roots, a podcast that provides insight into all things farming, financing and farm life guiding you back to your roots.

[00:00:17.610] - Chris Griffin
Thanks for joining us today on Back to Your Roots. I'm your host, Chris Griffin.

[00:00:20.990] - Jordan Turnage
Hey, guys, I'm Jordan Turnage. Thanks for listening to us today. We've got the man, the myth, the legend. His name is Ira Wray. He's the Relationship Manager out of our Clinton office. Ira, thank you so much for coming in. We appreciate having you.

[00:00:36.330] - Ira Wray
I appreciate y'all allowing me to be on y'all's podcast guys.

[00:00:38.170] - Chris Griffin
Ira, you're known as the chicken man here in Western Kentucky. And a lot of our listeners, they may not know that, but this man right here, he's thrown out poultry loans left and right and got people up and operational and been a huge supporter of poultry farmers here in Western Kentucky. Can you tell us how you fell into that role and how you kind of gained that knowledge of being a poultry lender and people that referred you and how that just kind of blossomed over time for you?

[00:01:09.740] - Ira Wray
Yeah. So how it really started, a lot of it actually started with the office. I originally started with River Valley and was the Mayfield office. I was underneath Seth Carter there at the Mayfield office. He did a lot of chicken barns. And then when Patricia decided that she was going to retire from the Clinton office, I took over that office. And it has a huge poultry portfolio in that one as well. So I kind of was playing second fiddle there for a while and got to look at some of his loans and how he was doing things, how he structured it. And then, of course, Kip and Logan being in the credit department, they've had exposure to a lot of it. So I started dissecting a bunch of those loans, and really, it snowballed from there. I started to figure it out, and I started to try a couple of different things, developed my skills at it or become good at it, and just it kept compounding and compounding. And really, those guys are the ones that got me started. The offices I was in, the lenders I was around. Patricia, I sat with her for a little while right before she retired, and she helped me hone in my skills a little bit and get used to a little bit chicken barns, the way they did things there.

[00:02:14.250] - Ira Wray
And then after that, the challenge of it, really, with chicken barns, there's so many different options and so many different ways and different structures that you can finance these things. And there's so many different programs out there that some people qualify for, some people don't, and you've got to find that blend between the two. And that part of the challenge just kept me going and kept me pushing. And I'd be driving down the road thinking of a way that I could structure somebody's chicken barns or something like that.

[00:02:39.200] - Chris Griffin
I'm not surprised.

[00:02:41.010] - Jordan Turnage
What's that saying? There's more one ways to skin a chicken? There's more than one way to finance one, too?

[00:02:45.730] - Ira Wray
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And that's really how it started. I'd be, like I said, driving down the road on the phone, somebody else brush my teeth in the morning, anything like that, and just think of a way or a different structure. And I'd try and put it in the cash flow, and it worked out better. And it just started compounding from there. And then, of course, existing poultry farmers that I inherited out of that portfolio and then the new ones I got started there. A lot of my supporters, a lot of the people that told other people or somebody to ask them, say, hey, man, how'd you get into chicken farming? And they told them exactly how they started and say, hey, here's this rough old redneck from Clinton. Give him a call, see if he can help you out.

[00:03:22.510] - Chris Griffin
Every time that we have somebody Jordan on here, it's always interesting. I've said this, it's going to get repetitive, but I say it every single time on every podcast episode we have is listening to somebody tell me how they ended up to where they are right now. It's always, I think it's always an interesting story. I think it's good advice for people listening, especially, I always say, our young listeners, because you never know what route, it's never straight, and you end up getting to something like where you're at right now. But there's a lot of things that fell into place, a lot of people that helped you along the way to get to where you are now. And obviously, you were ag lender of the year at River Valley last year, and I've leaned on your knowledge a lot. I've called, you're always as busy as you are. You're always available to help, which I've always appreciated and respected about you. So it's just always interesting to listen to people's story. I think it's always some good advice for our young listeners that, hey, just stick with it and you'll kind of end up where you need to end up most of the time.

[00:04:23.400] - Ira Wray
And that's what kind of give me, and kept pushing me and give me the drive to make me pursue it even harder and made me go after the challenges, instead of steer away from them, was I wanted to help people, whether it be other lenders. I mean, I've talked to other lenders just outside of this place, just as common stuff and thoughts like that. I can't give away all my tricks, but people just talk to me about just the economy and all that type of stuff, and I get to see the way their mindset works and what things they think about. But then here I get to help other lenders get going and I get to help farmers grow. I'm from a family farm, and that's the reason why I do this job, and that's the reason why I chose the career in agriculture. I'm able to help families grow, help generations develop, and just keep pushing forward. So it's me playing my part and that fed into the challenges of it as well.

[00:05:09.720] - Chris Griffin

[00:05:10.770] - Jordan Turnage
Well, let's jump back into as far as eligibility for someone to take over a poultry operation. What kind of hoops would you say that they have to jump through as far as with the integrator and then with financing side as well.

[00:05:27.700] - Jordan Turnage
As far as eligibility any body essentially can be a poultry farmer, can get into chicken farming, but there's a lot of work. The first thing is you got to have a good work ethic. Of course, usually the people that are pursuing, getting into something like that and with the cost of it, they're usually pretty financially minded or hardworking people that are looking to get more efficient with the work they're put out or what they're doing and let it buy them a farm, build them a farm, build them a place for their family to grow and thrive. But work ethic is the first thing. The second thing is finding the right farm and that you can afford for the situation you're in. A lot of these used farms have existing house because the farmer built it out there. And what he's planning on doing something a little bit different or maybe had some health concerns or something he's needing to sell. Well, his forever home that's sitting out there, you have to pay for that as well. So you might find a place that looks like a pretty good farm, but it's got a $400,000 or $500,000 house sitting out in front of it.

[00:06:22.220] - Ira Wray
If you're a guy that's just got good credit but has a little bit of cash, stayed pretty clean on the financial side, but don't have a lot of equity to push into this new operation, you're not going to sell something to develop that equity. You're going to be on the downhill slide, because you still have to pay for that big house that's sitting out there. I tell people all the time, a base model truck versus a king ranch. I said, they'll pay for themselves the same, but you got to have a reason to pay for the heated seats and sunroof. That's right. So it's like a chicken farm that's on 20 acres with a good double wide out there, just a modest ranch style home. Those will always cash flow a little bit better than one.

[00:06:59.420] - Jordan Turnage
And that's the key.

[00:07:01.350] - Ira Wray
That's the key right there.

[00:07:02.540] - Jordan Turnage
That's the proof in the pudding. I guess from start on this, from looking at things, it's always trying to figure out how cash flow is going to affect this from start to finish.

[00:07:09.770] - Ira Wray
Well, and people come in all the time and they're all high. It's like, no, they're not priced too high. You're buying extra luxuries with it. That is the biggest draw on any of it is because you've got to break it down when you come from like the w-2 world or just this normal employment world like that and look at it and say, okay, this place is making me this amount of money, but it's also paying for my house and this extra land or buying a tractor as well. It's like, well, your old job, you might have made $20,000 more, but this is paying for your house payment and at your old job, you had to pay your old house payment, it was $20,000 a year. So it's the same thing. Plus you get the benefit of farm taxes and filing schedule f. And I mean, you might not have to pay as much. It depends, because you're going to have a whole lot of stuff to depreciate in your operation in the beginning. But as far as the hoops and stuff to jump through, really, it's finding a spot and finding a farm that's for sale or a place to build.

[00:08:02.360] - Ira Wray
And it's the same way with building, too. The best place to build chicken barns is in the middle of a row crop field because it's usually the flattest or it's up high enough, it's not flooding or something like that. That's the best place to build. No trees that knock down easy to cut a driveway in. That stuff's $7,500 to $12,000 an acre right now.

[00:08:19.210] - Jordan Turnage
Just to cut.

[00:08:20.000] - Jordan Turnage
Just to try to get in.

[00:08:20.610] - Ira Wray
Just to try to get in. Yeah. So it's like, well, you've still got to make those barns pay for that. If that cost your entry fee. Then you go back the other way and say, well, I'm going to find some $3,500 an acre woods ground. When you got to spend 100 grand to clean out trees and start putting in a decent pad, then it's going to cost you 50 grand in a driveway. It's like, well, that goes into land cost, too. And then you get back up there. So, if you're looking to build, you need to find the best land that's going suited for what you're wanting to do. That's not going to cost you a lot to renovate or clear out or improve, but then if you find too good of land, it's probably going to have too good of land price tag on it. So you got to be careful with that. So that's one of the hoops you got to jump through, is find the one that is appropriate for what position you're in as a person, financially, family. You don't want to have a five person household and be moving into a two bed, two bath either.

[00:09:08.140] - Ira Wray
So you got to say, okay, I needed to find a house that's big enough or I'm going to have to put a double wide in there that'll hold my family. But finding that blend of what you need to be looking for and one that's priced adequately, and then after that, really you just need to come in and talk with a lender, talk to somebody here at River Valley about cash flow, see the way that's looking, see what things you do qualify for, and the process starts right there. You know, everybody here, we utilize FSA and KFC a lot and they know, so we utilize those a lot. And knowing exactly what you do and don't qualify for, if you do have farm experience or have some farm ownership, you qualify for a little bit different amount of money than you do if you're just a beginning farmer. But there's also programs out there that are just tailored towards beginning farmers as well. I've got a lot of people that's either row cropped and added barns onto their property just to diversify a little bit. I've had guys that's green as a gourd that's always wanted to get into chicken farming.

[00:10:03.110] - Ira Wray
I've had guys that grew up on a family farm, but it wasn't enough land for two households. And he bought some land right next to it and put a chicken farm out there. And he does that full-time and then helps part-time until the rest of the farm becomes his the options are, I mean, it's unlimited. Really it is. I've done it all kinds of different ways. The main thing as far as eligibility and seeing what it takes to get started is see what you need for bare minimum and then see what else is out there and how it's priced and then come talk to somebody here at River Valley, or you can talk somebody here at River Valley and see if they know of any that's for sale. I've got people all the time that they would sell, but they don't really want to market it. Just somebody comes along for the right price. So we're not in the real estate business. At the same time, if somebody said, tell the next guy.

[00:10:49.230] - Chris Griffin
We're still intertwined with it, if something comes for sale, we're typically going to hear about it first.

[00:10:54.820] - Ira Wray
Yeah. And everybody here is either to be involved in farming, come from farming, or somewhere in between. So it's like if you see a person that's getting ready to transition to that next stage in life and you see another person wanting to transition in, it's like, well, that's farming. That's how it's going to be. So anything like that, we can at least point you in the right direction. There's a couple companies out there that list some barns every once in a while, but barns here lately have been going pretty quick and getting a contract pretty quick by word of mouth or Facebook or something like that.

[00:11:23.790] - Jordan Turnage
It's catching on you see realtors online posting for barns. So they do see there is money to got in that.

[00:11:34.050] - Chris Griffin
I had one, I think it's poultry south maybe is maybe one of the listings. But I had a realtor saw something not too long ago, and it was just a realtor that typically doesn't even deal with stuff like that. And they had it listed, which I think it's so unique. It was kind of an interesting deal. I was actually really surprised that realtor had it listed.

[00:11:55.980] - Jordan Turnage
And you see a couple like Facebook marketplace.

[00:11:58.280] - Ira Wray
Yeah, you see a lot on Facebook.

[00:12:00.590] - Chris Griffin
So anyway, it's just kind of interesting.

[00:12:02.450] - Ira Wray
Yeah. I mean, really you just got to be on the hunt for. And if you're wanting to get in chicken farming that bad, you need to be talking to somebody or you probably know somebody if you were looking into it, that is in chicken farming. And most guys that I know are just good old country boys like me. So if you go up and start talking to them and they see you're sincere, they'll kind of, well..

[00:12:19.530] - Chris Griffin
They'll allow you to shadow them. And I had one last year you helped me with and kind of getting somebody kind of prior approved and they had kind of worked at one and just shadowed. I don't even think they got paid, but they just worked with there and had some experience and some knowledge and decided to kind of start working in that direction.

[00:12:35.820] - Ira Wray
Yeah, well, and talking about the hoops and shadowing and stuff like that with these integrators, they're going to want to make sure that they don't want to get you involved in something you don't need to be involved in just as bad as you don't. They want to get some guys that are lifelong growers. It's going to put out good product for them, have good efficiency and be happy. So they're going to get you in and have you usually run a catch or set up or they'll usually have you shadow somebody. Sometimes it's at the same place, sometimes it's at other places. It just kind of depends. But that's another, I guess you'd say, hoop to jump through. And then they want to evaluate that. You can look at your financial mindset and if you can look at the cash flow and basically say, hey, look, if I spend more here, I'm going to make less, bottom line. But if I make more up here so I can spend more here, it equals the same bottom line. They're going to want to make sure that you can process that and everything so you don't get in a bind or else they're going to be playing farmer hot potato every five years and they don't want to do that either.

[00:13:28.560] - Jordan Turnage
That goes kind of with their sweat equity with that. They want to behind wanting to do the operation itself.

[00:13:34.490] - Ira Wray

[00:13:34.860] - Chris Griffin
Well, you're talking about integrators and different things. I know there's various types of integrators and I think you said cage.

[00:13:43.750] - Ira Wray
Cage free.

[00:13:44.730] - Chris Griffin
Cage free and caged. Can you kind of go into that, like, kind of what those requirements are for those different integrators and maybe some challenges and some benefits to each one of those.

[00:13:55.660] - Ira Wray
Well, as far as the difference in just the conventional barns and like the cage free and stuff like that, of course, the cage free or pasture raised or whichever company you might be selling to, really it's about land requirement because you got to have so many square foot per bird so that these birds can be able to go on the property and get that classification as cage free or pasture raised. As far as with the integrator, everybody's got different contract terms or they might have different length of flock or different number of flocks every year. Some people have bigger birds, some people have smaller birds. So I mean, really, it does change from integrator to integrator or company to company. But with the integrator barns, a lot of times there's less or conventional barns I guess you could say there's less land requirement. You can usually have more barns in the same area that you could as the other ones, but the pay is a little bit different on that. Well, then on the other side, it's like, well, they take up more land, but it kind of compensates for that, too. So choosing which route you're going to go, and then also between the different companies, you got breeder barns, you got pullet barns, you got broiler barns.

[00:15:02.670] - Ira Wray
There's different types within each company.

[00:15:04.600] - Chris Griffin
So many layers to it.

[00:15:05.880] - Ira Wray
Yeah. So the first thing is, really, if you're going to build how much land you have, if it's a pre-existing facility, then you need to back up and look at it. And let's say what type of work is involved? Kind of the rule of thumb was like, the work in two egg barns is about the same as four broiler barns. It's less birds, but you're pushing out eggs every day. That's the chatter that's not posted anywhere or nothing like that. But that was kind of what everybody, that was the mindset that everybody had. So it's like, well, if I saw four egg barns and then four broiler barns, the four egg barns are technically going to be twice to work. Four egg barns are going to be twice to work than the roller barns are. But as far as building, really, it's just land availability. What kind of land you have when you're talking about, like the cage free type stuff and the pasture raised, if you've got a place that's a swamp in the tail end, and it's technically acreage that you could put fence on, well, that swamp doesn't really qualify or.

[00:15:56.390] - Jordan Turnage
Just stick it out there.

[00:15:57.640] - Ira Wray
Yeah, I think that pretty much every integrator or every agency that regulates cage free and all that stuff, and they want to make sure that they're taken care of in a humane manner. And if there's water that they have to cross or creek or something like that, there has to be a land bridge or some form for them to pass where they're not going to get trapped another side and can't get back.

[00:16:16.170] - Chris Griffin
Well, that was something that got brought up, I guess, at I think with FSA training not too long ago, and they were talking about some requirements, especially, I think on the cage free with some drainage and different things and runoff and kind of some requirements there and permits that you have to get different ways.

[00:16:35.420] - Ira Wray
That's like a KFO and an AFO. Whenever you are dealing with chickens that are being outside of the barns around, of course they're going to do their business and all that stuff out there on the pasture. So, I mean, like you said, you can't have it in a spot to where it's going to impact the environment around you.

[00:16:50.600] - Chris Griffin
The water quality and stuff like that.

[00:16:52.260] - Ira Wray
Neighbors and stuff like that. So, I mean, there's different. You got to evaluate where you're at and the land that you're going to be buying or do have already and see what fits the best there. But people try to ask me all the time and they say, which way should I go? Should I do this? And I'm like, man, it completely depends on situation. It depends on how much availability you have to work. It depends on if you're trying to keep your existing job, what you're wanting to do, how much land you have, what type of land it is, the cash to put towards it, or it's really financial position and everything else.

[00:17:22.770] - Jordan Turnage
So we're talking about putting money down. Let's just kind of go into that vein right there. Let's talk about down payment options and what the requirements are for the poultry barns to get those operations going. Because it's not just you get the barns, we talk about it on here. It's got to buy the real estate, got to buy the barns, got to buy the equipment. All that flows together, but it's all together, but it's all separate at the same time. So can you kind of walk us through that, too?

[00:17:49.290] - Ira Wray
Yeah. So as far as down payment, once again, I hate to be very vague here, but it depends on the situation and the person because I've got a lot of guys that really haven't put any money down on it, but we were able to utilize some of the beginning farmer programs and stuff like that. If you've got equity or something to sell, if you're building a place and you need a place to live until it's done, and then you're going to sell that place, you need to take the equity from that and invest it back in this other farm. So you either reduce the amount of loans you have to have or pay one down quicker because the more money you have that you can put down, the better off. And when you're starting operation, a lot of times, some of the short term loans or things like equipment that's going to wear out or you'll have depreciation on or something like that within the first couple of years. That's where I would focus those funds first to open up that cash flow for more potential, because our terms are different. Yeah, terms are different.

[00:18:39.340] - Ira Wray
As far as what's a requirement? There's not really a requirement on down payment. It just depends what programs you qualify for. Down payments help. I mean, pretty much any integrator, any company, any style of barn. If you own land debt free and clear, whether it's inheritance or you sold something 1030 wanted into this property or whatever, if you own the land, it'll cash flow. The barns it will. I mean, they'll pay for themselves, but it all depends on exactly where you're at, on equity and where you're going to buy or if you did, you inherit something. But any money you have, I say any money, but kind of find a good blend that's efficient, that'll have a lot better pay down up front so you can afford more up and stuff like that and pay down the things that are going to depreciate or going to need repairs, need upgrades.

[00:19:23.910] - Jordan Turnage
Rainy day funds.

[00:19:25.650] - Chris Griffin
You were talking about, you mentioned earlier some of those government programs, and a lot of our listeners may not be familiar with that. I know we are because we deal with it on a daily basis. But you talk about FSA, you talk about KAFC. I think KAFC is, in my opinion, I think, pretty interesting how it's funded and kind of what that looks like in some ways. And when you talk about structure, what I was trying to say, and you can correct me if, you know, you might have part of that loan as real estate, you might have part of it as equipment and termed out on a different term and part of it with FSA. And so you're structuring that to a point where, like you said, you may not have to bring any money to closing except the closing cost and make it where it's feasible for that borrower to actually get that operation.

[00:20:14.730] - Jordan Turnage
It's all a dance.

[00:20:16.250] - Chris Griffin
I always laugh because Ira, man, he's a numbers guy, and sometimes, man, he'll start writing stuff down. I don't even know what's going on half the time, but it all works out. But it fits his personality because you have to be creative and you have to be able to move the numbers around and move the percentages around and everything else because like you said, every single structure for borrower a and borrower b. It may be the same property, the same purchase price, but a completely different structure.

[00:20:49.530] - Ira Wray
Yeah, let's say you got a million dollar farm. It's just a couple of broiler houses sitting out there. When guy sold it off for the rest of his land, and that's what he's got left to sell. You got a million dollar farm, you might have 150 grand worth of dirt. It'll be there no matter what. You got $300,000 in equipment and then the rest with 550. It's going to be all in your barns. Well, those different attributes or different assets are going to either wear out or not wear out at the same time. So you can come in here and say, well, I'm going to have this land no matter what happens. If the barns are here or not, I can go ahead and put it on a 20 year term. I've got that handled. Well, then how old are my barns? Well, then you need to put them on adequate term. That way that the rule of thumb used to always be 30 years. But it's kind of like a truck with 150,000 miles on it. It depends on the life it's had.

[00:21:38.650] - Jordan Turnage
Highway miles, their own back.

[00:21:40.610] - Chris Griffin
You got 20 year old broiler barns. It's going to be a lot different if they're brand new. I mean, the useful life and grades and everything else that are required.

[00:21:48.230] - Ira Wray
Well that's the same thing as the equipment. You want to have that paid for, because on the tax side, you're going to run out of depreciation on the equipment portion of that, no matter what. You can't term everything out over 15 years or else you're going to run into a bind and we're either going to owe Uncle Sam because you're out of depreciation and need to buy something, or you're just going to need to upgrade. Your going to have these things, they have moving parts and they're exposed to the environment and stuff like that they're in. They're going to need to be able to upgrade. So it's like, man, you at least have a milestone here in seven years where you can actually do the upgrades and not impact you negatively. That's different terms and stuff like that. It's like if you had $50,000, it would make you a whole lot more money year over year to throw it towards the $300,000 in equipment and go ahead and pay that down than it would to pay it on the $20,000 loan. That makes the 20 year loan on the land because the term is so much longer. With financing, that's one of the main things you got to find that blend between long term assets and intermediate assets and make sure they're paid for in that adequate time. Everybody picks on me about my analogies all the time because I tell everybody I can afford a Lamborghini if I'd put it on 30 years. You know what I mean? That's just how it is. Same thing as a house. But if you put on 30 years, but that thing ain't going to be worth 15 years down the road, it's not going to be worth what you owe on it?

[00:23:07.290] - Chris Griffin
Oh Ira, I'll tell you what.

[00:23:12.350] - Jordan Turnage
You've been doing this for a minute now. What are some pitfalls that you could kind of give as advice to guys out there that are looking to take this on as points of avoidance to make sure that everything, cash flows and runs as smooth as they can in its operations?

[00:23:29.330] - Ira Wray
Most of the time, really, I guess it kind of falls back into the, when you evaluate the farm and evaluate where you're at. If you're getting ready to leave a $70,000 a year job to start poultry farming, but with that $70,000 a year job, you're still going to have a whole bunch of personal debt that's going to pull down. You've got to weigh that in to make it apples and apples again before you can actually decide what you're going to do.

[00:23:51.960] - Jordan Turnage
And there's no punching a time clock.

[00:23:53.570] - Ira Wray
Yeah, no, I was about to say, and you've got to evaluate that farm and your time and your family structure. I mean, I've got couples that the guy quit his job and he might mow a couple of yards part-time, help a farmer here and there during harvest season, and then he runs his broiler barns. And the wife, she's got full time job and keeps the insurance. And basically her money is a quality of life money. And he takes care of the meat and potatoes of the actual household and everything that's needed on that side. Pays for the house, pays for the farm and all that. But then I've also got couples that the guy might have been, he might have been in the union somewhere or working under factory and already reached journeyman status or something like that. His income was pretty substantial and they had really good benefits. Well, wife, she made good money, but it made more sense for her to stay home, take care of the kids, she can pick them up, stuff like that. But she gets to be home all day long. He's one's got a punch time clock.

[00:24:43.220] - Ira Wray
She's running the farm.

[00:24:44.970] - Jordan Turnage
Because you see, on the opposite side of that coin, everybody's involved in it. And it's not just the guy getting out there, getting taken care of, it's who can do it the best at the end of the day.

[00:24:53.570] - Ira Wray
Well, and it's what's best for your household and your family. If a guy was making 100,000 a year and he was going to quit that, and the farm still had to pay for itself, it's like, well, one side, you got to evaluate your profit and then what it is paying for, because with that 100,000 a year, it used to pay for your house,

[00:25:09.730] - Jordan Turnage
Because it's a big step as far as the daily grind of it as a young man's job. It is a young man's sport on this, not wholeheartedly, but they do have to really think before they just jump in full bore. They've really got to think.

[00:25:26.940] - Ira Wray
I was going to say lay out. You get too far down the young side of things. I've been 21 before, too, and running wild and thought I knew everything. And there's some guys that want to get into it, but they don't understand what the actual cost of it is or what the time spent is. Of course, I grew up around here, and from the saw this poultry farm pop up with a good single wide in front of it. Well, then, as debt fell off, now he built his wife, her forever dream home out there in front of it, and it went from a 90s model Fleetwood or something sitting out there to a 3500 square foot house out in the front. And it's everything they ever dreamed of. So poultry barns are the long game, but they'll pay you if you hang in there and perform. A lot of people that come in say it's a means for me to buy my first farm, but make it pay for itself, especially with the cost of things. If you had a 40 acre tract and put barns over in the corner, you might have bought that extra 20 acres and never even really had to pay for it because the barns did.

[00:26:21.980] - Chris Griffin
You're talking about that one example where the wife ended up actually staying and the husband, one of our East Tennessee board members, I remember we had him on the podcast, and he was talking about when early know there are times that his wife, you know he had some off farm income to help support their family, but his wife, while he was doing that, would actually take care of some of the farm operations and stuff. And it was really a family affair. And I think that's one thing, when we're on the podcast, I always try to relay that to people might be listening that have no knowledge of ag and how much of a family affair it really is. When that guy or woman comes in and they want to possibly buy a poultry facility, you're looking at a situation where it's not just a decision just made for them. I mean, it's a family decision and it's a family investment and sacrifice.

[00:27:18.450] - Ira Wray
Yeah, everybody's got to be involved and everybody's got to understand.

[00:27:20.970] - Chris Griffin
That's all farming. I really feel like since I've been here, that's a lot of all farming. I think the family, the wife and the kids and everybody, it really ends up being an investment by everybody in that family to make that successful.

[00:27:36.290] - Ira Wray
Yeah, that same guy that he stayed working and she run the farm. And it cracks me up every time, because when he comes in, if I ask him a question, or they both come in, I might ask him a question about something and he says, I don't know, it's her farm. She just hires me, I just work there. I don't know. Yeah, but yeah, you're right. It's 100% a family business. That's what it is and it's a way to help families grow and family farms grow and build you long term equity. But it's the long game. It's not that it's not going to pay you in the short run, but it is the long game. And look at it this way, too. If you built poultry barns and you don't want to farm them your whole life, it's another form of retirement. I mean, if you built them when you was 30, sold them when you was 55, you're kind of heading towards that way and want to get rid of them. They still got some good life in them. You took good care of them, kept them happy. If somebody's kept barns for 2025 years, they've kept their integrator happy, and that means they've taken care of their farm.

[00:28:30.840] - Ira Wray
Well, you can just cash out that and throw it into on top of your rest of your retirement or go buy some other row crop land or something like that and utilize that for cash rent. So it's kind of a long term retirement plan as well if you structure it that way and don't build your forever home out in front of it, because then you're going to sell your home, too. But it depends on what you want them to do for you and what it can do for you. I've got guys right now that have chicken farms that are row crop farmers, and they've got payments that are knocked off. Well, as soon as they had their payments fall off, they use that to hire some stuff done so they didn't have to work on as much. And then the rest of that money, they just make it, make payments on other land for them. And they actually have no land cost. If you want to cut it up that way, they have no land cost on that row crop farm.

[00:29:12.680] - Chris Griffin

[00:29:13.570] - Jordan Turnage
Ira, I think the listeners got a ton of useful information about building, buying poultry houses today. And I just want to say thank you so much for coming in. We're definitely going to have to have you come back in here again, no pun intended. We'll talk turkey a little more, getting a little more in detail on things next time. Thank you for your time. Thank you for all that you do for the Association.

[00:29:35.610] - Chris Griffin
Yeah, I'll ditto what Jordan says. Like I said, I've always had a lot of respect for you. I appreciate you always are willing to take the time and be a teacher, but you're also successful at your own personal obligations. We appreciate you and we appreciate you coming in today.

[00:29:55.710] - Jordan Turnage
Your seasoning that you bring to conversations.

[00:30:01.390] - Chris Griffin
I'll say this, it's always entertaining when Ira is around.

[00:30:03.890] - Jordan Turnage
There's not going to be a dull moment without Ira.

[00:30:05.700] - Chris Griffin
And honestly, this episode today, I think that we had enough that we may end up having to do a poultry 2.0 at some point down the road.

[00:30:11.970] - Ira Wray
That's fine. We'll look at things again.

[00:30:14.610] - Jordan Turnage
We'll rehatch it.

[00:30:15.810] - Ira Wray
Rehash it.

[00:30:16.560] - Chris Griffin
Oh, my gosh. That's too much.

[00:30:19.260] - Jordan Turnage
I got my dad pun in.

[00:30:20.470] - Ira Wray
I appreciate the opportunity, guys. And I was about to say, really, if anybody has any questions out there that's looking to get into poultry farms, just give somebody your local river valley office a call and we'd be glad to help you and point you in the right direction.

[00:30:34.410] - Jordan Turnage
Ira, thank you so much for coming on the podcast for Chris, I'm Jordan. Thanks as always for joining us today on the Back to Your Roots podcast.

[00:30:44.350] - Speaker 1
Thanks for tuning in to Back to Your Roots, where we dish the dirt on all things ag. Be sure to never miss an episode by following and subscribing while there leave us a review about what you want to hear next. Stay in the know between episodes by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok. For more resources, go to our website at rivervalleagcredit.com.


See All Podcasts