Three Generations Strong
Triplets Joseph, Madeline and Ryan Ward have farming in their blood. They are the eight generation of the Ward family to live and farm in their home county and one of three generations actively farming today at Dusty Farms in Rushville, Illinois.
In fact, Joseph and Ryan started early and were still in high school when they bought 10 cow-calf pairs.
“Dad borrowed the money from Compeer, but we paid back the loan which was $25,000,” Ryan shared. “Joe and I each paid back half and did so in a year. This was my first taste of making a little money on the farm and that’s why I really decided this is what I want to do.”
Madeline took a keen interest in the cattle and now owns about a third of the 165 cow/calf pairs in addition to working off the farm at a Pioneer agency.
All three siblings have found their place on the farm, helping with feeding cattle and taking on unique responsibilities throughout the crop season. Joseph and Ryan do this full time, while Madeline helps on evenings and weekends.
Back to the Beginning
But these triplets didn't make it this far all on their own. Their father, Harold, started farming in 1985 with their grandfather, Jerry. At the time, the family was growing crops on about 1,600 acres and raising pigs.
“We had pigs and the buildings were in need of repair or we needed to build new to expand,” Harold recalled. “Dad asked if I wanted to build buildings or start buying ground and because I was newly married with kids, I chose start buying ground.”
Today, the family grows corn, soybeans and wheat on 5,400 acres.
A Transition Plan
“Dad and grandpa have been looking to get us more involved on the business side of the farm,” Ryan said. “A farm recently came up for rent and dad talked to us about whether we wanted to rent it on our own, which we did. We ended up working with our Compeer financial officer Rob to take out a line of credit.”
The family know the importance of planning early because life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye.
“We’re in the process of forming a partnership between the two farms we own,” Harold explained. “We already set up an LLC so the next step is a partnership. We’re working with a legal professional who can guide us through the process since they are the experts.”
Through this process, Joe and Ryan continue to plan for the future of their farm and their continued involvement.
“I wouldn’t say we’re going to reinvent the wheel, but we’re looking to grow more on the crop side of the business and maintain the cattle herd,” Joe shared. “As we look to the future of our farm, we know Rob and the Compeer team will continue to play a vital role in our success.”
Compeer is committed to helping our clients succeed through every stage of their operation. As your operation changes, we understand the importance of an effective transition plan to safeguard and prepare your operation for future generations.This article was originally printed in the Winter 2022 edition of Compeer Financials' Cultivate magazine.