Wayne and Jacie Jensen and their two sons Guy and Carl live on a farm in the Palouse country of northern Idaho. Like their neighbors, the Jensens grow primarily wheat.
The OUTDOOR IDAHO crew profiled the Jensens in the half hour program “Down on the Farm,” which airs on Idaho Public Television. The crew visited the family on several different occasions in 2000 and 2001.
Wayne Jensen is a third generation farmer; he attended the same high school that his two sons now attend. Jacie Jensen, who was born in the mid west, considers herself a farmer as well as a farmer’s wife. The two teenage boys are, at this point in time, not interested in farming as an occupation.
Here, in their own words, is how the Jensens got into farming:
In the 1920s and 1930’s, Ken Jensen grew up on a typical 240 acres farm on the Palouse. After WWII Ken decided on a life of agriculture and begin leasing the homestead and purchasing nearby land. In the mid 1950’s, Ken and his brother Bob, who left the farm but loved the land, began purchasing land together. Ken began the farm manager and operator of their joint land. In 1975, J & J Farms, Inc. was formed by the brothers to 1) Formalize the separation of the farm management business and the land ownership business, 2) Provide medical and retirement plans for employees, and 3) Provide estate and secession planning.
The corporate structure allowed Wayne and Jacie Jensen, Ken’s son and daughter-in-law, to begin purchasing Bob and Ken’s stock in the farm operation in 1982. Today, J & J Farms, Inc., wholly owned by Wayne and Jacie Jensen, leases 3300 acres from family members. Wayne is the Production manager and Jacie is the Financial Manager. Besides employing themselves, they employ one full-time, one part-time and three to four seasonal employees. Their sons, Guy, age 15 and Carl, age 13, are seasonal employees on the farm. Ken Jensen participates in the operation as well.
J & J Farms raises a variety of crops to spread the risks caused by disease, local weather, and global markets and economies. Each acre goes through a three year crop rotation of winter grain, spring grain and spring legume to manage these risks. In October approximately 30 % of the acres are planted to a winter grain, usually Soft White Winter Wheat. Another 30 % of the acres are planted in April to the spring grains of Spring Wheat (Soft White, Hard White and/or Dark Northern) and Barley. In April another 30% is seeded to legumes (dry peas, pea seed, lentils and/or garbonzo beans). The remaining 10% of the acres are seeded in the spring or fall to grass seed, Rapeseed and/or Canola. The Jensen store their crops at local Cooperatives in Genesee and Moscow, Idaho and Uniontown, Washington. When the crops are sold, they are usually trucked to the Ports in Lewiston, barged down the Columbia River to Portland and then loaded on Ocean vessels. On the Palouse approximately 80-90% of all crops are exported to foreign countries.