Diversifying for the Future: A Musser Family Tradition

M&R Grains Inc. – Mount Joy, PA

In the small southeastern Pennsylvania town of Mount Joy, members of the Musser family have cared for their piece of land for many years. The farmland has served as fertile training grounds for generations of Mussers, breeding responsibility and integrity into the line.

And the tradition continues.

The next generation of Mussers has already taken the helm of the farming operation, which includes soybeans, corn, poultry and dairy cattle. Jim says that he and his wife, Sue, have a unique outlook on farm succession.

“Sue and I do not believe equal is always fair,” he says. “We believe in sweat equity.”

25160001With the high price of farmland in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which is often $15,000-$20,000 per acre, the Musser family, which includes Jim, Sue and their four sons, thought about their succession plan in terms other than equality.

“To be equal to all of the boys, the farm would probably have to be sold out of the family,” Jim says. “Nobody in the family wanted to see that happen.”

Understanding that two of his sons had interests off the farm and two wanted to remain in production agriculture, the family discussed the situation and made a plan.

They’re already putting that plan into action. In 2012, Jim and Sue transferred the farming operation to two of their four sons, Cody and Dustin. They will transfer real estate ownership this year.

Like his ancestors, Jim takes pride in producing high-quality, sustainable crops to feed his cattle because he wants to provide special care to his herd. Since the animal agriculture and soybean industries are linked and depend on each other, he continues to work hard in both areas.

Jim’s farming legacy gives him the know-how to produce a high-quality product. After all, he started farming when he was 15 and entered into partnership with his father by the time he was 21. He married Sue, who was new to farming, in 1978 and purchased the farm in 1986. He says that they have many reasons to keep the farming tradition going.

“I’m passionate about farming and the future of agriculture,” he says. “We believe in the family-farming structure and that the farm is the best place to raise a family.”

25160004Jim and Sue’s four sons — Matt, Brett, Cody and Dustin — all support the succession plan. While Dustin and Cody are keeping the family farming tradition alive, Matt and Brett are pursuing their own dreams off the farm.

“Farming is not for everyone,” Jim says. “Our wish is to have all our sons find a career they are passionate about.”

Dustin and Cody are passionate about farming, like many other U.S. soybean farmers. This passion fuels their commitment to providing a sustainable product that meets the demand for feed ingredients important to many international customers. As a result of innovative thinking and dedication to producing a consistent and high-quality supply, U.S. soy continues to reach new markets.

The Mussers are diversifying their operations to try to reach new markets. They’ve increased their grain-storage and drier capacity and added a grain-roasting operation.

“The future is full of uncertainty, but we are up for the challenge,” he says. “In farming, as in life, you can’t change the past, only learn from it.”

25160006

USSEC Staff Writer
USSEC Staff Writer

Staff Writer

USSEC

USSEC is a dynamic partnership of key stakeholders, representing soybean producers, commodity shippers, merchandisers, allied agribusinesses and agricultural organizations. Through a global network of international offices and strong support in the U.S., we help build a preference for U.S. soybeans and soybean products, advocate for the use of soy in feed, aquaculture and human consumption, promote the benefits of soy use through education and connect industry leaders through a robust membership program.