Marion County farmer Chasen Stevenson says he always planned on returning to his family’s farm near Knoxville after graduating from Iowa State University.

"All I ever wanted to do was come back here. It was just trying to figure out how to make it work," says Stevenson, 28, taking a break inside the cattle shed as he waits for a storm to roll in.

It turned out that cattle helped Stevenson get his start in farming. Stevenson and his younger brother, Kirn, bought their first 40 head of cows while they were still in school.

Today, the brothers raise 125 head of cows and breed show calves, in addition to row-crop farming with their dad, Rick. The Stevenson brothers were preparing to take a few of their club calves to the Iowa State Fair this week.

"(Farming) was always something I wanted to do," Stevenson says. "But I knew I...