Use Cookie Cutters for Dough, Not Crops

2Anyone involved in agriculture knows that no two years are exactly alike. No farm is the same, and each farmer has his or her preferred way of doing things. That’s why Eric Croghan (rhymes with “prawn”) doesn’t believe in taking a cookie-cutter approach to crop planning.

“What I enjoy the most about serving as a regional sales manager (RSM) for Latham Hi-Tech Seeds is working with others as part of a team where everyone buys into the task at hand,” says Croghan, who played three sports in high school. “I love meeting people and learning how and why they do things. When I help farmers, it’s rewarding.”

After majoring in Ag Business and minoring in Agronomy, Croghan graduated in 3.5 years from Iowa State University. He says he was eager to hit the ground running. He differentiated himself as a young salesman by earning his CCA (certified crop advisor) certification. Then he accepted a position as a sales agronomist for a local co-op. He says the seven years he spent selling seed, chemical and fertilizer was extremely valuable as it gave him well-rounded knowledge that he uses today to help farmers.

“Latham Seeds is about helping farmers. The company began in 1947 when Willard Latham found a way to help neighboring farmers save their oats crop from smut. Then he began selling certified oats seed,” says Eric. “Willard and his wife, Evelyn, ran the seed business out of their house and treated every customer like family. Evelyn was known for her hospitality, and her legacy lives on today. The fact that Latham is family-owned company is a big plus. When you plant Latham® seed, you know a family is putting its reputation on the line as is the person who recommended the product to you. It’s a responsibility we take seriously.”

4Eric learned the value of hard work by growing up on his family’s farm outside Manilla. The youngest of four, he and his older two sisters and brother helped their parents raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa and run a cow-calf herd. In addition to playing sports, Eric worked part time at the local hardware store.

His free time is still spent working on the family farm. He also has his own cow-calf herd. He raises Black Angus/Simmental cross cattle. He started in 2017 with a few bred heifers from his father’s herd. Each year Eric focuses on raising better cattle instead of just getting bigger. This way he can grow the herd without stretching his resources too thin.

“I love raising and caring for livestock because it brings up a different set of challenges and offers a lot of great rewards,” says Eric. “I am pretty excited to pass down some of the same childhood experiences that I had to my kids.”

Eric and his wife, Amber, are the proud parents of a two-year-old daughter named Jade. They’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of their second child this spring. Amber is a registered nurse health coach at the Manning Regional Health Care Center. Amber is part of every farm decision like when to sell calves. She also raised a large garden and 200 broilers for family and friends.

1When Eric and Amber aren’t working, they enjoy spending time with family. This winter they have been enjoying sledding with their daughter on their acreage. Amber and Eric feel blessed to have purchased an acreage on the Ehlers family’s Iowa Century Farm from Amber’s aunt and uncle.

“This farm has been in the family for more than 100 years, and now we’re responsible for caring for it. It really makes you aware of the legacy left behind, as well as the one you’re leaving,” says Eric. “We found an old seed dealership sign from when Amber’s Grandpa Ray was a seed dealer for another company. I hung it next to my Latham sign. It hit home… Different farmers with different farming practices on the same ground with the same goal of leaving their own legacy.”

Farmers feel a great deal of responsibility to steward the land. They also take pride in the products they raise. To help promote beef, today the Croghan family is sharing with us one of their favorite recipes for Porcupine Meat Balls.

Porcupine Meat Balls


  • 2 pounds hamburger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together except the soup; form into meatballs.
  3. Lay meatballs in flat dish.
  4. Mix mushroom soup with one can of water and pour over the meatballs.
  5. Bake for one hour.