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Farm succession planning is focus of ISU Extension Workshop

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A family business, whether a dairy farm or a main street business, represents a lifetime of hard work and a commitment to a certain lifestyle, often times spanning generations. Good communications and planning make the transition from one generation to the next move smoothly and more successfully, according to David Baker, farm transition specialist with Beginning Farmer Center.

"Successfully transferring a farm business, or any business for that matter, begins with conversations about goals -- the goals of all parties involved,"David Baker said. "The current owner and spouse, as well as future owner and spouse, need to be included in the conversations. These talks are often hard to initiate, but they are vital to creating an understanding that can be the basis for a succession plan."

Iowa State University Extension has scheduled a farm succession workshop in Orange City to help families begin those conversations and start putting transition plans on paper. Chris Mondak, ISU Extension dairy specialist, says the Farm Succession Workshop, to be held June 23 and 24, is a result of needs expressed to her by members of northwest Iowa dairy peer groups and agri-business contacts.

"I hear people express concerns about the future, about whether a spouse will be OK with their goals and about parents or children not knowing what the other one plans to do,or when,"Mondak said. "As I listen, I hear that situations involve the whole family-- men and women and more than one generation. That is why we are bringing a version of the Iowa State University Ag Link Conference to northwest Iowa."

The Ag Link conference is held on the ISU campus each winter as a four-day, two-credit course for college students and the current farm owner/operator they plan to succeed. Like Ag Link, the Farm Succession Workshop planned for Orange City is a multi-generational event for exiting owners and spouses, and succeeding owners and spouses. However, the northwest Iowa workshop will be conducted on two consecutive partial days to better accommodate rural families and provide time to initiate conversations and written plans. David Baker will be joined by John R. Baker, Beginning Farmer Center administrator and attorney at law, to present the workshop.

"The first session allows participants to gather in small groups with others having the same role,"David Baker said. "Small group discussions offer participants a chance to share needs, wants, expectations and fears. Then as a large group we will look at what must happen to make the transition work."

Day two of the workshop includes a review of the retirement plan concept and information on transfer plans, estate plans and a process for creating a family statement of intention. Family groups will then have time to write a Statement of Intention and Vision of the Future. "Families will go home with a Memorandum of Understanding that will be their blueprint to the future -- knowing what they need to do, who they need to talk to and understanding that the plan may need to be adjusted along the way," Baker added.

Workshop details The workshop will be held from 4to9 p.m. June 23 to 24at the ISU ExtensionSioux County Office, 400 Central Ave. NW, Orange City. The cost of the workshop is $150 per family of four; $25 per each additional person.

Pre-Registration is required by June 16. Register online at the Beginning Farmer Center website, HYPERLINK "http://www.extension.iastate.edu/bfc" www.extension.iastate.edu/bfc, or mail a check for the registration amount to Sioux County Extension, 400 Central Ave. NW, Orange City, IA 51041, by June 16.

For more information about the workshop contact Chris Mondak at 712-737-4230 or HYPERLINK "mailto:cmondak@iastate.edu" cmondak@iastate.edu. Additional information about the Beginning Farmer Center is available online at HYPERLINK "http://www.extension.iastate.edu/bfc" www.extension.iastate.edu/bfc, by emailing HYPERLINK "mailto:bfc@iastate.edu" bfc@iastate.edu or calling 877-BFC-1999. The Beginning Farmer Center is backed by 20 years of research and experience helping farmers with transition plans.

Extension programs are available to all without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability.

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