Stepping down

Agriculture.com Staff 12/02/2006 @ 1:29pm

Ron Mapes, Stockton, Illinois, has heard it said, "You really don't own the land, you just use it so you can pass it on to the next generation in better condition than you received it." After 47 years in farming, it's his turn to pass the family's fourth-generation farm down to his son, Brad.

Like his father before him, Ron is helping his son take the reins of the farm that has been in the family since 1907. With each generation, the Mapes men have helped each other in one way or another get started in farming.

When Brad was 3 years old, Ron could tell his son was going to be a farmer. "He'd follow me around when I did chores and play with his farm machinery. He has a son that is doing the same thing," says Ron. "The next generation is the future of agriculture."

In January 1990, Brad and Ron formed a 50-50 partnership that owned cattle and machinery. They rented the land and buildings from Ron's father, Glenn. "We had a written lease with Dad. When Brad and I formed a partnership, we had a legal written agreement drawn up," says Ron.

Among three generations involved in the farm today, the family owns 2,050 acres. Glenn owns 1,000 acres; Ron owns 550 acres; Brad owns 500 acres.

Brad and Kimberly rent 830 acres from Glenn and an outside landlord. They plant 1,200 acres of corn, 950 acres of soybeans, and the rest is hay and pasture. In addition, the couple feed out approximately 900 head of fat cattle yearly. They breed and sell about 140 heifers and have 10 bulls.

"Brad is the next generation to farm and has a family that is interested in farming. Kimberly loves the farm. She keeps things organized and does a lot of the book work. It's important to pass the farm on to Brad and his family," says Ron.

"When starting a partnership, there should be a timetable for transition so all parties are aware of the intent of the younger partner," says Brad. "The senior partner needs to step away at some point so the younger partner can grow both personally and professionally."

Ron Mapes, Stockton, Illinois, has heard it said, "You really don't own the land, you just use it so you can pass it on to the next generation in better condition than you received it." After 47 years in farming, it's his turn to pass the family's fourth-generation farm down to his son, Brad.

Within their partnership arrangement was a buy/sell agreement. This clause allows either partner the first option to purchase the other's share in the event someone wishes to leave. When Ron decided to retire, Brad and Kimberly used this clause to buy out Ron's portion of the partnership.

Both generations offer these points for a successful transition:

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