The Work is the Reward

Grower of the Year Paul Rasgorshek of Nampa, Idaho

Published online: Feb 01, 2019 Grower of the Month
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This article appears in the February 2019 issue of Sugar Producer

Paul Rasgorshek has no particular interest in hearing how great he is. He doesn’t care for your high praise, your accolades, your “Man, you’ve done some pretty great stuff.”

What Sugar Producer’s Grower of the Year is interested in is all the little things he does on a regular basis that over the years have earned him the respect and recognition of his peers in the sugarbeet industry. Rasgorshek simply and genuinely loves farming the high desert country of western Idaho, and those feelings wouldn’t change if no one ever heard his name.

“Farming is my life,” he says. “It’s my job, and it’s my hobby.”

Rasgorshek was just a kid when his father, Joe, packed up the family and left the hailstorms and dryland farms of western Nebraska for the Treasure Valley in 1965. But from that tender age, he knew he wanted to be a farmer.

“When I was younger, it was always my intention to come back and farm,” he says. “I guess I was kind of narrow-minded that way, but it’s worked out well for me and my family. It’s been fabulous.”

Today, Rasgorshek owns and runs what amounts to two farming operations: A 1,400-acre row crop operation that includes around 250 acres of sugarbeets annually, in rotation primarily with peppermint and alfalfa seed. The other side is custom farming around 3,600 acres of alfalfa and silage corn for local dairies. Sugarbeet yield typically averages 49 to 50 tons per acre, with about 17.5 percent sugars. A full-time crew of 14 employees keeps things running smoothly, and Rasgorshek is quick to point out those employees’ contributions to the farm’s success.

“We couldn’t ask for any better employees than we have,” he says. “They’re truly wonderful. They’ve been dedicated, and we get along very well.”

As of last spring, Rasgorshek’s son Kyle is among the farm crew. The move was a little unexpected by Paul and his wife Marilyn, but Paul says having Kyle back on the farm has been a wonderful experience.

“We never actually dreamed he’d want to come back to the farm,” Paul says. “But he talked to us about it, and it has worked out very well for us all.”

Rasgorshek’s farm lies about 10 miles south of Nampa, Idaho, in a spot that, thus far, has been immune to the urban development that has rapidly spread through the Treasure Valley over the past decade. The relatively mild climate and rich silt loam soils have over the years proven ideal for diversified farming operations such as Rasgorshek’s. Water is lifted from the nearby Snake River to irrigate the farm—mostly via in-furrow irrigation, though some drip and wheel line systems are utilized.

For years, Rasgorshek has worked with Amalgamated Sugar to perform beet seed variety trials on his farm.

“I’ve loved coordinating with Amalgamated on research and doing the variety trials on our farm,” he says. “I really enjoy it all, especially being able to see how different varieties perform.”

Rasgorshek values not only the scientific information it provides him, but also the relationships he’s been able to build working so closely with the sugar company. He served on the local growers’ association board of directors for 12 years, and feels the experiences he gained there have provided incalculable value to his own farm and family.

“All that work with those people helped me understand how to be a better part of the business world,” he says. “It helped me understand the co-op. It gave me a different, fairer perspective of the company’s management.

“We have phenomenal management for Amalgamated,” he continues. “The board is excellent and understanding of growers. They have the ability to look into the future and make good plans for both the company and the growers.”

As for himself, Rasgorshek’s own plans include a lot of what the past has held: farming the land he loves with the people he loves, and loving the time spent doing it.

“You have to be happy doing what you’re doing,” Rasgorshek says. “I’m a very optimistic person; always have been. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”