David W. Howell is the co-founder and owner of Howell Farms near Middletown, Ind. Along with his wife, Mary, David founded Howell Farms in 1972 on rented land with borrowed equipment. Their operations began with traditional corn and soybean production, then diversified with the addition of fruits and vegetables. They successfully expanded their family business to enable the inclusion of the second generation, whose members have chosen to pursue agriculture as their careers after completing university degrees.
The farm, which once sold small quantities of fruits and vegetables through an onsite retail market, now grows pumpkins destined for national retailers, as well as several hundred acres of tomatoes that are shipped globally. Additionally, the total grain production has grown to include several thousand acres spread across central Indiana and in Western Bahia, Brazil.
David earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Purdue University in agricultural economics. He serves on the Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and is the chairman of the U.S. Grains Council’s Asia Advisory Committee. He also serves on the advisory board for the Indiana Department of Agriculture and is a founding member of Indiana’s Corn Marketing Council, of which he currently serves as vice chairman. He has previously served on the boards of First Merchants Bank and American Farm Bureau Federation and the Dean’s Advisory Committee at Purdue. David was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Purdue University and an Indiana Master Farmer.
Howell Farms is a diversified family farming operation headquartered in central Indiana. The crop mix includes pumpkins marketed through large national retailers, traditional corn and soybeans, and tomatoes contracted exclusively with the country’s largest tomato processor, Red Gold Inc. of Orestes, Ind. Howell Farms also produces corn and soybeans in Western Bahia, Brazil.
Howell Farms is unique in the team it has assembled to provide the necessary intensive management for these crops and locations. David and Mary Howell are the founders of Howell Farms and continue to work full time at the farm. Management of the business is now handled by second generation members, Adam and Aaron Howell. Mike Behrendt and Doug Biehl are operations managers supervising production. Robert Miller serves as the farm’s financial officer and Audrey Howell Behrendt works part time as the office manager.
Everyone at Howell Farms is driven to continually increase production while preserving their most valued resource – their land. However, their ultimate objective involves much more than just size and yields. Howell Farms is more excited about the future of production agriculture than at any time in their 40 year history.
The agricultural industry has recently experienced farm consolidation at a dizzying speed. Rapidly increasing global demand, the shrinking U.S. farmland base and reduction in numbers of commercial farms are factors which present opportunities for farmers who are prepared and able to meet the demands of the new production age. Howell Farms is steadily moving forward to accept the challenge that comes with the change and looks forward to the continued possibilities that lie ahead.