In 1972, Jimmy Tosh began his full-time farming career. He farmed 300 acres of family land and finished 1,000 feeder pigs. Fast forward to today, and the operation includes 17,000 acres of white and yellow corn, soybeans, canola and wheat, as well as 37,000 sows that produce 850,000 market hogs annually. It’s because of his entrepreneurial originality, financial and business progress and industry and community leadership that he was named the 2019 Top Producer of the Year.
Growth of his scale doesn’t happen by accident. Tosh is a trailblazer in many ways. He was one of the first users of the personal computer to manage his farm finances. In fact, the first spreadsheet he created he still uses today.
“I’m a crop farmer that got into hogs,” he says. “I went in with the intention of building 3 buildings and now we have built 300.”
Surviving the financial farm crisis of the 1980s, as well as the late 1990s and late 2000s--all extremely difficult years for hog producers--required a keen focus on business. While other hog producers left the industry, Tosh Farms became a leader.
“We are in a commodity production business and the lower cost producer is the one that wins,” he says.
In northwest Tennessee, the operation doesn’t experience the wide corn basis and cheap feed compared to hog operations in the Midwest. So, Tosh has supplemented his feed rations with non-traditional ingredients and even manufactured a system to process these ingredients into feed pellets. Tosh believes the early adopters of technology reap the most benefits. As a result, he’s always looking for new and innovative production, marketing and management opportunities that cut costs.
As the operation grew, Tosh Farms created a contract system for area farmers to produce hogs. This has helped numerous young farmers stay in the area, all while building equity in their own operations.
“We’re the only ones in our area who still offer contracts,” he says.
Today, the team includes nearly 400 full-time employees. Tosh and his wife, Alonna, have two sons, Jamey and Jonathan, who are involved in the business and will succeed Tosh.
“I want to make sure this operation is as successful in the future as it was in the past,” he says.
Tosh Farms, as defined by their mission statement, measure success by profitability, quality of production, environmental awareness and attention to human resources.