Proactive Transition Brings Rewards, Reduces Risks
November 20, 2019
During college, Levi Bailey of Clay County sold seed for a small independent company, which helped him create relationships that would move him closer to the career and lifestyle he always envisioned.
“While selling seed in a large geography, I was able to slowly add rented acres to our family farm,” Levi says. “While I was gaining acres, my dad was gradually getting out of farming.”
Levi explains over a three to five-year period beginning in 2013, he and his wife Amanda took ownership of the family’s corn and soybean operation and the career they love. “Without the help of my parents, we would not have been able to grow as quickly and efficiently as we have,” he recalls. “They gave us opportunities and we did our best to seize them.”
Today, Levi and Amanda are 100% owners of the family farm. Key to the smooth transition was a contract between the couple and Levi’s father stating how Levi would purchase the equipment and take over the land his father rented.
Levi also made sure he included the farm’s landlords in the loop. “I gained some landowners, while others had relationships with my parents,” he notes. “Communicating with them regularly ensures we’re doing the right things for them.”
In addition to running the farm, Levi operates SeedCo Inc., a seed dealership selling in 12 Illinois counties, and Outback Storage, self-storage facilities in six locations that Amanda oversees while caring for three young children. Levi also custom harvests, plants, and sprays.
Managing the farm and multiple other businesses, Levi knows how important it is to keep the farm finances healthy. “We’ve done this through finding the right accountant, studying financial programs, and diligently keeping records,” Levi says.
One way he stays on top of financial issues is by attending educational programs – including as many grower meetings as possible. He recalls a meeting several years ago that predicted tough times were on the horizon for the agricultural industry and how Illinois farmers needed to tighten up where they could.
“I took this advice to heart and am very fortunate I did,” Levi notes. “We must keep up with the ever-changing industry to create profit opportunities for our farm and family. You can get ahead and build a business with hard work and a willingness to try new things.”
Transitioning a farm is not easy. But putting plans into motion while his father was still around to answer questions and continue lending a hand where needed worked well. “We are believers in farm transition happening sooner rather than later because without skin in the game, you don’t understand the pressures of farming. That full weight of the farm’s success is heavy but rewarding for our young family.”