Planning for successful farm succession

Planning for successful farm succession

Many farmers are approaching retirement age and are considering leaving the business. In addition to the financial complexity, conversations about succession can become emotional for farm families, including concerns about being fair to all children.

University of Wisconsin Extension provides research-based resources to help farmers make informed succession and legacy decisions. In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, & Consumer Protection’s Farm Center and a private organization Tax Insight, LLC, Extension organized Wisconsin Farm Succession Professionals Network meetings to provide professional development and networking opportunities to Wisconsin’s farm succession service providers. Over the nine years Wisconsin Extension has offered this program, nearly 1,100 people have attended.

Wisconsin Extension also partnered with Iowa State University Extension and the International Farm Transition Network to develop the Certified Farm Succession Coordinator (CFSC) training. The 20-hour training focuses on communication, strategic planning and decision-making for farm succession professionals. Topics include gender, generational and personality differences and how this can affect communication; the process of farm succession facilitation; and a framework to help farms think about what is fair versus an equal distribution of assets.

To date, there have been 21 CFSC trainings held in nine states with 475 participants. In 2017, Extension developed a farm succession workbook, Cultivating Your Farm’s Future. The content is based on the findings from four focus groups with farmers held to learn about their barriers to succession planning, educational needs and preferences around farm succession. The workbook is now a major component of the CFSC curriculum and multiple copies of the workbook have been purchased by certified coordinators and other organizations to use with their clients. Additionally, educators at Kansas State University want to use it as a framework for a new podcast series for Kansas farmers.

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