ANDOVER — Dane Horter is an unlikely — and somewhat reluctant — small-town celebrity.
Only 8, he is a pint-sized field reporter who gives crop updates from his family farm outside of Andover, with the help of his dad, John Horter.
“Every time I go somewhere there’s like six people who ask, ‘When’s the next crop report?’” he said.
The pair started posting videos on Facebook just to get the word out about the conditions of their fields and their plans for the season. There’s not much script when they hit the record button, and there’s not a set number of reports per year. They do it whenever Dane wants to, Horter said.
“Usually when we do a report, for 10 minutes we talk about what’s going on and what we’re doing. He basically knows everything that’s going on. And we just have a conversation,” Horter said. “It’s just to convey the message of what we’re doing on our farm to other people.”
Eventually, the videos grabbed the attention of Hungry for Truth, an initiative from the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council. They worked with Dane and Horter to create themed reports for the program, which aims to open the dialogue between farmers and other South Dakotans.
Dane has fun behind the camera, ending each video with something exciting — a dance move or a new joke — but the significance of the reports is not lost on him. In fact, his favorite part is educating the community.
“We just think it’s important to let people know what we’re doing on the farm because there’s getting to be a bigger disconnect between farming and city folk, and there’s a lot of fear out there and false facts,” Horter said. “There’s nothing on our farm we would do to put our kids in danger. We’re just here making a living and we want to tell people how we do it so they have an idea when they see something in the field, (they’ll know) that we’re not doing harm to the environment or them. It’s just a connection point.”
Current conditions this year aren’t great, according to Dane. He’s urging farmers to be patient while the fields dry out.
“It’s been too wet because there’s been so much snow,” he said. “We’ve just been planting and fertilizing the ground (on our farm).”
Dane has been doing crop reports since 2015 — when he was only 4. He and his dad do about five videos a year, maybe more, maybe less, depending on Dane’s schedule. A second-grader at Langford Area School, he likes to play basketball and baseball in between helping out on the farm. He fixes machinery with his dad, helps feed and move cattle and works on his own projects when he can.
“I like to be crafty. Like just this morning I made a handle. I’ll show you it,” he said, running out of the room.
Horter is a fifth-generation farmer, and Dane will be the sixth, if he follows in his dad’s footsteps. Career choices for Dane change everyday, with farmer and demolition worker being the top choices. He might be both, if he can.
Dane’s used to getting recognized by now, even when it’s not in his hometown. A couple years ago, someone picked him out of the crowd at a Watertown farm show and said, “You’re the little boy that does crop reports!” That’s not something either he or his dad ever considered would happen when they started making videos.
“It’s just something we started doing and never would’ve thought people would get that hooked on it,” Horter said. “It’s kind of fun to let him do his thing.”