NORFOLK, Neb. – A lifelong learner who has taken scores of classes at Northeast Community College is the new owner of a tractor donated to the College through an online auction process.

Chuck Baumert, of Norfolk, was the successful bidder for the 1972 John Deere 4020 offered at Bob and Shelley Noonan’s recent farm retirement auction.

The Noonans had earmarked proceeds from the sale of the tractor to be donated to the Nexus campaign to build new agriculture facilities at Northeast.

Ryan Marthaler, district representative for BigIron Auctions, the company that handled the Noonan retirement auction, said he quickly understood that Bob’s work as an agriculture instructor at Northeast was important to him.

“He felt that his time teaching had left an impact on the local community, the farming community, and even the state of Nebraska,” Marthaler said, “and he wanted to give back to the college.”

Baumert also has strong ties to Northeast Community College, going back nearly 50 years. He earned a degree in auto mechanics from Northeast in 1974 and began working for the Ford garage in Norfolk, but that did not end his time as a student.

“Throughout the time I was there, I took evening non-credit stuff from Northeast,” Baumert explained.

After 10 years at that job, Baumert went on to a 32-year career as a mechanic at Nucor Steel, again taking classes from Northeast for things like welding and basic machining.

“Northeast has been pretty much a part of my life,” he said.

Baumert retired in 2016, but his need for education did not end. He had purchased a farm during his years at Nucor and required knowledge to manage it properly. Once again, he turned to Northeast Community College for help.

“I took every ag class that would benefit me,” he said, “and I finally ran out.”

Baumert said one of the classes he took was on forage, taught by Bob Noonan.

“Bob and I became great friends.”

Baumert said he was looking for a tractor when Noonan scheduled his retirement auction. He paid $17,500 for the tractor, and he believes he got a good deal.

“I prayed about it, weighed it out, and I think I gave a fair price for it, considering the work that was done on it,” Baumert said. “I think I paid what it was worth.”

Marthaler said used farm equipment is selling at all-time high prices right now.

“The main reason is supply chain issues. It is very difficult to get new machinery right now, so people are buying used equipment. The price of used equipment is probably 20-30 percent more than it would have been even 18 months ago.”

But, with prices at all-time highs, Marthaler said the tax burden for retiring farmers can also be high.

“There are a couple of things BigIron does to help manage that tax burden,” he said. “We can hold the settlements until the following tax year for customers. And we can also help farmers donate some or all of their proceeds to a charity.”

Nancy Brozek, partner in McMill CPAs and Advisors, said getting the best tax advantage from a charitable donation is a complicated question.

“When people are looking at donating to a charity, they really need to talk with their tax preparer to see what is more advantageous to them.”

Brozek specializes in farm finances, and she said she has many clients considering retirement right now.

“They are looking at what to do with their land and equipment,” she explained. “Do they send it down to their children, do they donate it, or do they continue on and sell that property piece by piece?”

Marthaler said the all-online auction offered by BigIron is a popular way for retiring farmers to dispose of their property.
“You don’t have to worry about extremely hot or cold days, mud or snow.”

The online auction option also provides a bigger bidder pool, making sure the retiring farmer gets the highest possible price for his equipment.

“Bidders at the Noonan auction came from 21 states and two foreign countries,” Marthaler said. “And buyers included people in the Denver area and from Winnipeg, Ontario, Canada.”

Northeast has received a check representing the proceeds of the sale of the tractor, less the auctioneer’s fees.

“We have costs for advertising, and office staff we need to pay,” Marthaler said. “But we will work with the owner and the charity to make sure the charity receives the largest donation possible.”

The money was added to the Nexus capital campaign to build and equip new agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College.

Dr. Tracy Kruse, Northeast vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation, said Northeast welcomes all contributions and will be happy to work with potential donors to find the best way for them to make a gift.

“There are different ways for you to fund a donation,” Kruse said. “You might be in a position to just write a check, or you might want to give a directed gift like Bob and Shelley Noonan.”

Kruse said another way to donate would be through planned giving.

“We have a Planned Giving Advisory Council with members throughout the 20-county service area. These professionals can provide information and assistance on a variety of ways to make a legacy gift.”