Belinda Burrier had no background in agriculture before she married her farmer husband, Dave. In the 20 years since their wedding, the couple’s 1,100-acre corn, soybean, wheat, and hay farm in Union Bridge, Maryland, has served as her classroom.
- READ MORE: 15 minutes with Oregon farmer Jon Iverson
“I’ve learned how to do many things,” Burrier says. “I’m the landscaping crew. I run for parts. I also help a lot with our hay operation running the baler and tedder.”
Today, on social media and as a leader in groups such as the United Soybean Board, Burrier uses her experiences to educate others.
SF: What was it like to join the soybean board as someone who wasn’t raised in agriculture?
BB: When I first came on, it was pretty hair-raising because I didn’t understand everything about soybeans. My husband has been a big help behind the scenes. It’s been good because I didn’t have any expectations. My husband had 46 years behind him, so he has blinders on for some processes. I have a wide-open view and ask why we do this or that. At first the answer was, “Well, we’ve always done it that way,” but he soon realized change and innovation are good.
SF: How did you get involved in leadership positions?
BB: My husband was on the Maryland Soybean Board for nine years, and I came on as his replacement. Two years in, they put my name in for the United Soybean Board. I started out as a regional director, but I’ve been on the executive committee for the last three years. It has been a total learning experience. I have taken every leadership class they’ve offered and served on a couple different committees. I’ve gotten to travel the world with USB and the U.S. Soybean Export Council. I have also worked with the American Soybean Association, which is separate from the checkoff and is allowed to lobby. It’s neat that we have a three-legged stool that allows farmers to be very efficient.
SF: What role has sustainability played on your farm?
BB: I think Maryland is way ahead of the country in some respects because of our strict nutrient management plans. What’s cool is a couple years ago we were sparring with an environmental group, and they challenged us to test the water on our farm. After a few months, we found water was leaving cleaner than it came to the farm. My husband and I were regional winners of the Conservation Legacy Award, and we’re Mid-Atlantic Master Farmers. Those applications are pretty hair-pulling, but it’s interesting because you don’t realize all the things you do until you write it all down.
SF: What’s the best part of being involved in agriculture?
BB: I love it. I had no clue what I was getting into 20 years ago, not one. I wouldn’t change it for the world. When I first married into the family, my in-laws wondered why their son hadn’t married a farmer. Now, my grandkids come to the farm, and they’re eager to learn about whatever it is we’re working on. That’s what we want to project. Yesterday, we had nine students from an agribusiness class come out, and we started with a year on the farm 101. By the end, I think the teacher had enough information she could teach for two years, and I like being able to share that story.
SF: What would you tell a consumer about farming?
BB: I want to raise a crop that is highly sustainable and good quality. I’m looking out for the health of my children and their children, too. I try to share what’s going on at the farm on social media because I want to be transparent with anyone and everyone.
Belinda Burrier married into farming 20 years ago. Her central Maryland farm produces grain corn, high-oleic soybeans, and hay for local markets. Burrier’s passion for learning led her to the Maryland Soybean Board, where she was the first woman to serve. “At first being a woman in this space was hard, but I want to be seen as one of the guys. Don’t separate me out,” she says.
Union Bridge, MD was incorporated in 1872 and the Western Maryland Railroad built in 1862. The town’s population, as of 2020, is 963.