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Young Couple Use Side by Side Lessons to Expand Farm

Mary and Adam Ebert have bought two pieces of ground in west central Iowa in the past two years. With each purchase, the Eberts went through a decision-making process that drew on lessons learned at FCSAmerica’s annual Side by Side conference.

“I was so thankful we had the opportunity to go,” Mary said of the 2013 Side by Side conference she and her husband attended in Omaha.

Side by Side 2015Industry experts at the conference forecast some challenging times ahead for farmers and advised attendees to put their energy into improving their current operations before considering expansion. Other speakers detailed what lenders look for when deciding whether to extend credit to a farmer or rancher. The Eberts also received a tutorial on our AgriPoint tools.

When the Eberts had the opportunity to buy 30 acres, then an additional 110, they discussed at length the impact such a big step would have on their operation. In the end, the relatively low price for the ground swayed the Eberts. Each parcel needed work. Buildings had to come down. Trees stood in the way of planting. But the Eberts, both 28, decided their labor would pay dividends in the future.

With that decision made, the Eberts went to work gathering the documentation needed for a strong loan application. Then they plugged numbers into the AgriPoint account they set up after Side by Side. The resulting what-if scenario reinforced their conviction that the purchases made sense.

Today, the Eberts farm about 300 acres and exchange some labor and equipment with Mary’s family farming operation. They also have hogs and cows. Mary’s voice is full of pride when she talks about the transformation of the couple’s first 30 acres: “People from the area comment that they enjoy driving by it and enjoy seeing the progress being made on it.”

The front section serves as a test plot for a local seed and fertilizer company. In back, a dozen cows graze on pastureland. The couple continues to make improvements to their second purchase. On a recent day, Adam was battling the weather to finish some planting while also cleaning up parts of the property.

Mary, who is expecting the couple’s second child, works off the farm for the Guthrie County Extension. She recalled a conversation she had about a week ago with a livestock economist in her office. They were planning an upcoming educational event and Mary noted a must-have for the agenda: A how-to on demonstrating your credit worthiness to a lender.
Ebert's farm photo

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