Thursday, August 13, 2009

Passing the Farm On

As farmers age, plans match aspirants with pros
August 11, 2009 by The Associated Press / SHARON COHEN (AP National Writer)

RICHLAND, Iowa (AP) — He quit his job and drove his wife and their four young daughters across country, a 21st-century pioneer lured to these faraway farm fields by the promise of a life-changing deal with an older stranger.

Isaac Phillips always wanted to be a farmer. But when he revealed his plans to some friends and colleagues at the Utah jail where he supervised inmate work crews, they said: a) don't give up a steady job, b) you're making a big mistake, and even c) you're crazy.

Phillips knew the business he was plunging into was risky, that there were no guarantees for him in the Iowa hills. And yet, the family moved more than 1,000 miles.

"I thought I may never get a chance like this in my life," Phillips says, two years into his new rise-with-the rooster career. "I knew there was no way I could do this on my own."

How did this thirtysomething Garth-Brooks look-alike, who had the drive but not the dollars, get started farming in Iowa?

He had an instant mentor here: John Adam, who planted his boots in this rich black earth as a 19-year-old newlywed and over the next five decades, helped raise four children, harvested corn and beans, bred sows and collected a wall of plaques and honors — and seed caps.

Now, the two men — the rosy-cheeked apprentice and the silver-haired, windburned teacher — are working together on Adam's farm. One day, if all goes well, Phillips hopes to call part of this land his own.

This is farm matchmaking, a down payment on the future of rural America. Read More

Programs like these are going to continue growing in popularity as the average age of our farmers and ranchers continues to climb. Many times they want their business to continue but don’t have anyone to pass it on to. It’s definitely not an easy process to pass on a farm, but when a good match is found, it will be much more rewarding than a farm sale.

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