by Kelly Lester
Policy Analyst for the Center for Food, Power, and Life, John Locke Foundation
A recent profile in the Colorado Sun documented the journey of farming advocate Stefan Soloviev, who has purchased over 400,000 acres of farmland in and around Colorado. While some may think that is suspicious, Soloviev chooses to rent the land back to small farmers at more affordable prices.
Stefan Soloviev, a native of New York City, embarked on a significant journey into the agricultural domain during his twenties. He ventured into the heartlands of Kansas, eastern Colorado, and New Mexico, purchasing extensive farmlands. Beginning with a 309-acre farm in Sumner County, Kansas, Soloviev gradually became a pivotal figure in Colorado’s Eastern Plains farming community.
His agricultural endeavors included cattle ranching in New Mexico, cultivating milo (a type of sorghum) and wheat, and nurturing grass for cattle in Colorado and Kansas. He invested in infrastructure by acquiring the Colorado Pacific Railroad (known as the Towner Line), refurbishing it to facilitate grain transportation. Soloviev’s vision was to create a farmer-centric company, Weskan Grain, aiming to compete with international agricultural conglomerates by prioritizing local farmers’ needs.
Beyond his agricultural ventures, Soloviev has led a remarkable personal life. Having married young, he now has 22 children (11 from his first wife) and experienced significant life events, including divorce and relocations. Despite his diverse business interests in real estate, mining, vineyards, cannabis operations, and energy projects, he has remained committed to philanthropy, supporting underprivileged children and farmers.
Soloviev told the Sun how it was his lifelong passion:
“My priority in my lifetime is this,” he says, slapping a table in an empty office at his accountant’s headquarters in Lamar, where he meets regularly with his Colorado team. “Because I believe this — all the farmland and handling the grain and exporting it and being the first locally owned, vertically integrated ag company in Colorado and Kansas and all our meat production in New Mexico — is the most important thing I will do in my life. It’s all long term and this is the first inning. I’m not going to stop until I get there. It’s my lifelong project.”
Stefan Soloviev’s story epitomizes private enterprise’s effectiveness over government intervention in agriculture. He swiftly adapted to farming, acquired extensive farmlands, and invested in infrastructure, exemplified by purchasing and renovating a railroad. His initiatives demonstrated agility, innovation, and market-driven solutions tailored to benefit local farmers. Soloviev’s flexibility, risk-taking, and community engagement highlight private enterprise’s ability to respond to market needs swiftly and forge strong community connections.