Do you run, own, operate, or manage a farming or ranching operation in North Dakota? If so, it is more likely than not that you fall into the 70 percent of U.S. farms set to transition from one generation to another in the next 15 years. Within this national movement, more than 400 million acres of farmland will change hands. Whether 40,000 acres or a hobby farm, transitioning an agricultural operation can be emotional, messy, and frankly damaging to a family. Enter the farm succession coordinator.
The Role Of A Farm Succession Coordinator
First question: what is a farm succession coordinator? Put simply, a farm succession coordinator facilitates an open discussion for all involved in the transition process. In this regard, you can view a farm succession coordinator as a sort of family farm mediator. The succession coordinator ensures that everyone involved has the ability to voice concerns about transitioning the operation. Beyond this, the succession coordinator is able to facilitate the orderly progression of the entire transition process. Keep in mind, transitioning an agricultural operation is a multi-faceted undertaking and involves a business transition, estate planning, tax and accounting issues, and, of course, family and emotional aspects. The farm succession coordinator can ensure all of these areas are addressed by individual professionals to allow you to create a comprehensive succession plan.
Value Of A Succession Coordinator
At the end of the day, any transition plan you create must be your transition plan. Never implement a comprehensive transition plan if you feel the plan does not address all of your concerns. A succession coordinator will essentially take an inventory of all of your concerns from day-to-day management to the finances of the operation and make sure those concerns serve as guideposts in moving through the transition process. With a succession coordinator, you can be assured that your concerns will be addressed throughout the transition process.
Also, a succession coordinator can help to ensure all the parties involved are not taken by surprise down the road. We have all heard stories where two brothers are working on their parents’ farming operation and each child has had a private conversation with dad concerning who gets to own the farm. However, the children’s agreements with dad conflict with one another. The result is a family feud and likely a failed family farm. The succession process and the farm succession coordinator can help to ensure the people involved in the succession process are aware of the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the succession plan.
The process of transitioning an agricultural operation is a daunting task. The good news, however, is you do not have to undertake this alone. Jesse Maier at our firm is International Farm Transition Network (IFTN) certified as a farm succession coordinator. If you think you could benefit from a farm succession coordinator or have questions concerning the process, please give us a call at 701-297-2890, or email us via the contact form below.