Steve Snider still follows the advice of his late father and plans to hand it off, along with the family farm, to the next generation.
Winter farm work in Lerna, Ill., was typically slow. So, Bill Snider encouraged his teenage son Steve to spend those days looking off the farm for productive things to do. The young man occupied his time with odd jobs, including a stint as an equipment operator at a landfill. He also completed computer science courses at the nearby college after the subject piqued his interest.
However, the elder Snider’s nudging served a purpose greater than earning extra money or filling the idle hours. It was a proverbial push from the nest.
“Looking back, Dad was urging me to get out and not just be dependent on the farm,” says Steve, who is now 38. “He wanted me to broaden my spectrum on the world … to get a sense of the world and how other bosses are, to see how things work differently.”
But Steve says his dad was the best boss of them all. “He taught me about management,” says Steve. “Not to overextend yourself. Stay within your means. Try to be a good steward of the ground. And he taught me about conservation, so you don’t lose what you’ve got.”
Steve’s off-the-farm experiences just seemed to make him appreciate his family’s corn and bean operation all the more. “I decided that coming back to the farm was the only thing to do,” he says. “It still felt right.”
Bill eventually fell ill, and when he passed last Leap Day, Steve was grief-stricken but ready to take over. Today, Steve manages about 1,600 acres, with close to 1,400 of those planted in corn and beans. Another 40 of those acres are dedicated to a herd of roughly 20 Black Angus cattle. The rest are wooded areas.
Steve says the legacy of that land was very important to his father. Because of that, Bill’s wish was that upon his death, the farm would be placed in an irrevocable land trust, stipulating that it remain intact and in the Snider family through two more generations.
“We just didn’t want someone else coming in and taking it away,” says Steve’s mother Barb. “That’s what Steve’s grandpa would have wanted too. He worked hard for that.”
For expert advice on land trusts, and to read why Bill and Steve Snider switched from Deere to Massey Ferguson equipment (hint: better fuel efficiency and comfort), visit http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/a-fathers-guidance/.