ARCHIVED  March 1, 1997

Kersey’s Hoshiko pioneered modern ag

Paul Hoshiko, 70, of Kersey, stood a little more or less than five feet in stature. But when he died Jan. 5, 1996, Weld County and the state of Colorado lost a giant in agriculture.Hoshiko was posthumously inducted into the Colorado Agricultural Hall of Fame Feb. 20, honoring his contributions to agriculture.
Hoshiko and Jean, his wife, acquired their first farm in 1957 through a purchase of his brother’s interest in the 160-acre family farm. Dennis Hoshiko, Paul’s son, explained, “The ‘home farm’ was rocky land, and only 100 acres of it was farmable.”
Evidently, when Paul’s father first owned the land himself, it was native pastureland that hadn’t been touched by a plow. The 160-acre parcel of land, through Paul’s management, grew to encompass 2,000 acres, spreading between Kersey and Greeley.
He also developed a single-head cattle-feeding operation into an operation that fed more than half a million cattle through Paul Hoshiko’s lifetime.
“Dad was always looking for a more effective way of doing things,” Dennis Hoshiko said. “It didn’t matter if the project was small or large.”
Paul Hoshiko’s thinking made him an efficient operator: He decreased his costs and increased his production.
Dennis Hoshiko explained, “Dad wasn’t extravagant. When you start out with nothing, you learn how to be frugal. He didn’t have the luxury of wasting much.”
Through efficiency, hard work, and smart decisions, Paul’s production grew to a point that he pursued opening a wholesale produce company.
“Nobody ever made a dime just producing,” Dennis Hoshiko explained. “It’s the marketing effort, to sell for a profit, that actually makes money.”
To accommodate the need for a produce warehouse, Paul Hoshiko purchased the Kuner-Empson cannery, located in Greeley, in 1964. He named it the North Weld Produce Co. and converted it to an onion-storage and marketing warehouse where now up to 20 million pounds of onions are graded and marketed annually. The building is approximately half a block in area.
“Paul was one of the first few in the area who decided marketing what he produced and creating vertical integration to eliminate the middleman was key to his success,” Dennis Hoshiko said.
When Paul Hoshiko sorted, sized, and packaged each crop of his onions, he automatically added a value to what he sold.
It wasn’t easy. Paul Hoshiko Sr. left Japan in the early 1900s as a young man and risked life and limb to come to the United States. He later became a U.S. citizen.
Later, Paul Hoshiko Sr. worked for the railroad, eventually migrated to Colorado and purchased his first farm with $12,000 he had saved and $12,000 he had borrowed.
During the Depression, he and his family lost the farm. Afterwards, the Hoshikos purchased 160 acres, ‘the home farm’, and started again.
“My grandfather was so grateful to be here, and he gave that strong work ethic and drive to his son,” Dennis Hoshiko said.
During World War II, because of his Japanese descent, Paul Hoshiko’s father was restricted in his travels, and the responsibility fell immediately to Paul to procure seed, market produce in Denver and help his father on the farm.
“Dad had to grow up fast,” Dennis Hoshiko said. “He had to prove himself worthy and responsible in so many ways.”
Despite the barriers, Paul Hoshiko strived to fulfill a lifelong philosophy of “making the world around him a better place.”
Perhaps the event confirming the commitment he had to this philosophy was the day hundreds of people packed the First United Methodist Church in Greeley to pay their last respects to him. Everyone from senators to field hands was there, recognizing Paul Hoshiko’s contributions to the community in which he lived.
Paul Hoshiko contributed heavily to youth and especially to 4-H. Early on, Paul Hoshiko was a 4-H member, then leader, and eventually president of the 4-H Leader’s Council.
In 1952, Paul Hoshiko traveled to Scotland through the International Farm Youth Exchange Program.
In 1963, Paul Hoshiko spearheaded a movement to create a softball field for youth in Kersey. The field was dedicated in 1964 and recently named after him.
As Paul Hoshiko progressed through years of farming, he was a member of, served on, and founded many agricultural associations in Colorado.
Paul Hoshiko was recognized through his life for innovation and long-range thinking. He was one of the first in the area to install concrete head-ditches on his farm. Early in his career, he practiced conservation management, willingly experimented with the application of commercial fertilizer and facilitated the service of an agricultural consultant.
Paul helped form, in 1965, a water district that supplies more than 4,000 users with water in small towns and rural areas.
For Dennis Hoshiko, the main focus is to “continue to build upon and progress with what my father and his father created.”
Dennis Hoshiko’s soft spokenness may camouflage the fact that this may be easier said than done.
“Our industry is at a critical point because of over-supply and the poor income caused by over-supply,” he said.
The next few years, as Dennis Hoshiko sees it, will be a critical time of surviving attrition until the supply decreases, driving prices higher.
In addition to onions, Dennis Hoshiko raises pinto beans, shell corn, alfalfa and wheat. His most immediate goals are to “Raise my family with the same values that were passed on to me.”
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Paul Hoshiko, 70, of Kersey, stood a little more or less than five feet in stature. But when he died Jan. 5, 1996, Weld County and the state of Colorado lost a giant in agriculture.Hoshiko was posthumously inducted into the Colorado Agricultural Hall of Fame Feb. 20, honoring his contributions to agriculture.
Hoshiko and Jean, his wife, acquired their first farm in 1957 through a purchase of his brother’s interest in the 160-acre family farm. Dennis Hoshiko, Paul’s son, explained, “The ‘home farm’ was rocky land, and only 100 acres of it was farmable.”
Evidently, when Paul’s father…

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