The Conrads have a family tradition of farming that spans over 120 years in Jackson County, when the first descendants moved to the Bascom area. Bill Conrad is a 4th generation, Jackson County farmer. His German pioneer family, the Coonrods moved to the area in the late 1800’s. Sometime after the turn of the 20th Century, the Coonrods became the Conrads. Just like the others before him, Bill learned the art of farming from his father, and is passing the farming heritage on to his children.
Bill Conrad started farming on his own in 1980, when he left high school and bought his first 22 acres of land. He continued helping his father farm, farmed his own land and some rented land, while doing odd jobs for other farms in the area. In 1985, Conrad was able to buy-out his father and take over the family operation, and has been farming in Jackson County ever since. In 1987, he married the love of his life, Donna. After marriage, Conrad worked full time in the farm supply business, and farmed his land nights and weekends. After four years, he came to the realization that you can’t stay sane working two full-time jobs. So, he gave up the steady income job for the job he loved, farming.
Conrad has grown a variety of crops, but is one who always is looking for new ideas, alternative crops and niche markets. While he has been farming in the county for 33 years, he may be best known for his custom grain combine harvesting service. Conrad has grown peanuts, soybeans, corn, wheat, triticale, hogs, and pine trees on his farm. He also experimented with numerous alternative crops such as: velvetbeans, alfalfa, and even hydroponic strawberries. In recent years, Conrad got into the horse hay business, first selling square baled alfalfa, and now perennial peanut hay. When asked about the future, Bill hopes to expand his irrigated acres, switch over to electric irrigation pumps, and add corn and alfalfa back in to his crop rotation.
Bill and Donna have been married for 26 years, and they have five children: B.J. – 23, Rachael-21, Joseph-18, Elijah-16, and Heidi-14. B.J. is now married, and has started his own farming operation. Rachael helped on the farm for many years, but is now attending Baptist College of Florida. Joseph, Elijah, and Heidi still help Bill with the grain harvesting service, and the family farming operation.
The Outstanding Farm Family is selected each year by a committee of past winners for the Jackson County Farm Bureau.