Looking out for the next generation

Glen Moeller, left, an Iowa farmer and founding partner of Next Generation Ag Advocates, poses with Dan Schurr, right, who took over Moeller’s farm in recent years through a partnership that included the acquisition of machinery. Moeller and business partners Steve Bohr and Mike Downey currently help clients at Next Generation Ag by matching retiring farmers with successors. (Photo courtesy of Glen Moeller)

Glen Moeller, a farmer from Scott County, Iowa, just north of Davenport, wasn’t thinking about starting his own company during most of his 41-year career on the farm.

He very much enjoyed growing corn and soybeans, and he raised pigs for 37 years just west of the Illinois border.

But, as old expression goes, “necessity is the mother of invention” and Moeller had to get creative when he suddenly found himself in a situation in which he could no longer operate the farm.

“Back in 2015-16, I had some health trouble and my doctor told me that it may be a good idea if I didn’t continue farming,” Moeller told FarmWeek. “I automatically had to look for someone to take over. I had three grown kids who didn’t have any interest.

“I started considering who would be capable of handling my type of operation,” he noted. “I wanted to find someone who wasn’t just a renter, but someone who cared about the farm and how I was farming.”

Moeller turned to Dan Schurr, a farmer he’s known for years with similar ideals. Schurr also has a son following in his footsteps to carry on the farming legacy.

“I mentioned to him I would be interested,” Schurr said. “The idea was unique. Typically, when you talk to a landlord, it’s a cash or financial decision. Glen’s proposal was a partnership and as an adviser. That was helpful to me.”

The partnership not only maintained the farm, but also spawned an idea. Moeller partnered with Steve Bohr and Mike Downey in 2017 to form Next Generation Ag Advocates.

The business caters to retiring farmers who are in search of successors.

“Unfortunately, when you’re looking for a tenant, there’s questions you don’t feel comfortable asking, but that you really need to know (such as financials),” Moeller said. “We decided Next Generation is a perfect avenue for those questions to be asked.”

The business started in eastern Iowa, but also serves clients in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“If you’re in the Corn Belt, this is a service that’s attractive to some people,” Moeller said.

And the demand could continue to grow as more of the baby boomer generation exits the business in the years to come. USDA estimates as much as 70% of farmland could transfer ownership in the next 15 years.

“It’s staggering the number of people in my age group who will be turning farms over to someone else. I believe the demand for this type of service (at Next Generation Ag) will grow,” Moeller said. “Hopefully, we can get people on farms who will be there at least the next two to three generations.”

For more information, visit Next Generation Ag Advocates.