ax Swinburn has been farming for over 30 years. He’s seen the highs and the lows and has persist. He has done the best he can, and it shows as he is the farmer that others look to for advice and information on the newest technology and techniques. He is a humble and quiet leader throughout his many communities according to David Gibson, the executive director of Texas Corn Producers.
Swinburn grew up in Tulia, Texas, where his parents, who were both teachers, started farming cotton on the side. He and his brother would help in the summer until they both went to Texas Tech University after growing up Red Raiders. Swinburn graduated from Texas Tech in 1967 with a degree in agronomy and continued his education at the University of Wisconsin. He later went on to start farming near Tulia and continues to support Texas Tech and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
“I’m a Red Raider, through and through,” Swinburn said.
Over the years, Swinburn has farmed corn and cotton, rotating them every season. He currently farms about half corn and half cotton on his land, but it depends on how much water is available during the season. Swinburn picked up farming corn by himself and has grown a variety of corn including yellow and white. The Texas Panhandle is a corn deficit region, which means there is not much corn grown in the area. In order for money to be saved, growing locally is the best option compared to shipping in corn from the Midwest to feed livestock or sell at the store.
In 2001, Swinburn was elected to serve on the Texas Corn Producers Board, which is headquartered in Lubbock. Texas Corn Producers advocates for the state’s corn farmers through an association and a checkoff. He is currently on his third term and has contributed immensely over his years of service according to many involved with Texas Corn Producers. He has contributed to the research, education and promotion of corn throughout the state of Texas.
“It’s a checkoff board, so we get money from every bushel of corn sold, and our job is to use the money wisely for the corn farmers of Texas,” Swinburn said.
Swinburn works closely with other members of the board, all who are from the Panhandle area. David Gibson has known Max for over 30 years. He has seen Max work on multiple research committees, serve as the U.S. Grains Council delegate for Texas Corn Producers and be involved in other matters that promote, sell and grow corn.
Max has been a leader and an inspiration to his neighbors and a lot of young farmers as well as his family.
During his time on the research committee, Swinburn was a part of a team that dealt with aflatoxin and how to help growers manage it on their farms. Aflatoxin is toxic chemical produced by mold that attacks crops such as corn. He has been able to help keep the research going as it is becoming a critical issue, not only in Texas, but the rest of the United States.
Swinburn was also on another team that handled a fumonisin outbreak back in 2017. Fumonisin is a mycotoxin that attacks corn in a similar way as aflatoxin. Swinburn was in a leadership role that allowed him to work with the regulations that came about from the outbreak. He’s been on multiple other research teams, including working with ethanol and Texas Cattle Feeders Association.
It is important for farmers with substantial experience, like Swinburn, to serve on boards such as at Texas Corn Producers, because it gives insight to what the industry currently looks like as well as the challenges farmers face. Like most farmers, Swinburn has seen his fair amount of hardship over the years. Whether it is water shortages, drought, market changes or weather, Max has found a way to endure and have a successful farm throughout the years.
Throughout his farming career, Swinburn has become someone who other farmers listen to and take notice. He is not afraid to try new technology and has been at the forefront of corn farming with his ability to adapt to the next best practice and technique according to Gibson. One of the biggest compliments a farmer can get is being someone who others follow in their farming and who adapt their practices and techniques. Swinburn is the type of farmer that when he talks, everyone else sits back and listens said Gibson.
“Max has been a leader and an inspiration to his neighbors and a lot of young farmers as well as his family,” Gibson said.
Though Swinburn has run a successful farm over the years, when asked what his greatest accomplishment is, he praises his family above all else. He mentions his wife, Doris, who holds their family together and his kids who have come back to help him on the farm.
While looking to the future, Swinburn does not see himself planting anything other than corn, cotton and possibly grain sorghum. He thinks every year he needs to retire, but the thought comes and goes as one of his favorite things is to watch crops grow to see his work bring satisfaction.
Though Swinburn’s farm is smaller compared to the larger corporate farms, he said the trend of larger farms will continue in order to provide for the market.
“I think there will always be someone to farm the land,” Swinburn said.