By Tia Lynn Ivey
Verner Farms, a family-run farm in Rutledge operated by Alan Verner, has closed, after nearly 150–year history, spanning five generations of the Verner family. Verner Farms specialized in producing all-natural, USDA-approved beef, as well as various types of hay for horses and cattle.
“It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling at this time,” said Alan Verner, who decided to retire the farm just 60 days ago. “This community has helped mold me and my family and who we are today. I will always have a huge debt of gratitude that I can never repay to the countless numbers of friends and all of those who have supported us through hard times and good times. I am just so grateful to have been born here and be able to live here and raise our family here. We have always just cherished our friends and the love of the community and we have always tried to give back in a small way to it but have never been able to repay it fully. It’s a very unique place in the world that has been well preserved and I hope we had a small part in doing that.”
Verner is considering his options for the future, possibly taking on some consulting work, maybe partnering with other cattleman to use the 500 acres of land Verner is still leasing in addition to the 150 acres he owns out of the 750 acres of his parents’ estate.
Verner also plans on overseeing the sale and transition of his hay business to new owners, to ensure the same standard of high quality product is maintained. But he is most looking forward to traveling the country with his wife Sue Ellen and to spend more time with his children, granddaughter, and soon-to-be born granddaughter due this July.
“Personally would like to thank Sue Ellen and my kids for giving me the freedom to do what I loved. It took a lot of time away from my family, but they have been very supportive of me all the way through and I am a very fortunate man and blessed in so many ways,” said Verner.
On Friday, May 5, Verner Farms held a massive auction, selling off hundreds of cattle and heavy-duty farm equipment. The retirement auction drew about 800 people vying for the best deal on Verner Farm’s stock of supplies. Hundreds more participated in the online portion of the auction. According to Adam Verner, Alan’s son who has worked the farm since childhood, everything was sold, with cattle and equipment being shipped out all over the country.
“We sold as far as California,” said Adam Verner. Adam Verner also noted the farm also made sales to people in Montana, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado, and all over the southeast. “People from near and far helped us sell everything,” said Verner.
I am excited for my dad and my mom to retire and be able to travel. They have worked hard and put in many long hours to keep the farm going and deserve to enjoy this time in their lives.”
According to Adam, the future of the farmland is uncertain and rests in the hands of other family members. After the family matriarch, Sarah Verner, passed away over a year ago, the remaining acres of Verner farmland was divided up between some of her children. According to Adam, down the line, most of the land might be sold off, possibly for development.
“I believe they want to sell all the land to developers and put a bunch of houses, a subdivision, there. I think that’s the goal. But me and my dad don’t have anything to do with that,” said Adam.
Whatever the future holds, Adam is thankful for the years he spent working the farm and the community that made it possible.
“We just want to thank everybody in Morgan County and all our friends in the farming community that have been there supporting us,” said Adam. “That meant a lot to me and my dad. That means about as much as anything,” said Adam.
“I am in unchartered waters, but I have a lot of opportunities before me and have put all my trust and faith in the Lord. He still has more for me to do,” said Alan Verner.