This post is a prelude to a new Succession Planning Page on Beginning Farmers. Succession planning is essential to the process of passing a farm on to the next generation as smoothly and successfully as possible. Today it is often difficult for children of farmers to take over the family farm. Farm equity is often the default retirement plan for farmers, so they need the money they have invested in it, and can’t simply give it to the next generation. And financing for the next generation wishing to buy the farm can be difficult in this era of high land values, and tight credit markets – not to mention the difficulty of beginning to make payments on a loan before ever bringing in a crop. In cases where there are multiple siblings, equitable distribution of inheritable assets can be an issue. Understanding rules related to taxes, land transfers, incorporation, etc. can be extremely important. And there are numerous interpersonal and values issues that often need to be dealt with in succession arrangements.
Here are a number of useful resources you can go to begin the planning process and make farm succession and land transfer easier:
- Agweb hosts the Farm Journal Legacy Project which provides numerous resources for succession planning. Taking some time to browse this site is a great way to start thinking an learning about farm succession. Need encouragement to get started? Check out the Legacy Project 2010 Report. Register for Legacy Project Workshops – in Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota. Help them help you… please have someone from each generation of your family take a few moments to participate in the Legacy Project Survey.
- http://www.passingdownthefarm.com/ hosts a blog, toolkit, and lots of useful information about estate planning, strategic business planning, and many other resources related to succession planning.
- University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension has good information on How to Start Farm Succession Planning; How to Prepare the Generations; How to Talk about Farm Succession Planning; How to Transition from Discussion to Documentation; and How to Plan for Life After Farming.
- Iowa State University Extension’s Farm Management Page is a great starting point for resources on succession (and other farm business planning issues) including their Farm On Program; the Ag Link farm succession training program; and a number of useful On Line Publications about farm transfer, taxes, estate planning, buy-sell agreements, and much much more.
- Ag Transitions from The Center for Farm Financial Management and University of Minnesota is a comprehensive tool designed to help farmers & ranchers develop a plan to transition their business to the next generation.
- The Farm Transfer Network of New England is a collaboration between a number of universities, and if a fantastic place to find resources and learn where to get help with succession planning and other aspects of farm business and farm transfer.
- Land for good has a Farm Transfer Planning Program that offers facilitation, technical assistance, and training in all areas related to farm succession and transfer.
- Transferring Your Farm or Ranch to the Next Generation is a publication from Montana State University that talks about farm succession and has worksheets to help identify the issues and opportunities.
- Spokane, WA County Extension has a list of links useful Publications of Farm Succession Planning.
- The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has a Farm Transfer, Succession, and Retirement Planning Page which has a number of original publications and resources, and links to others.