Design Your Succession Plan Article from the May/June 2018 Issue of Connections

Design Your Succession Plan Article from the May/June 2018 Issue of Connections

Design Your Succession Plan:

Farm Families / Business Partners Get Started on Their Succession Plans

On April 5&6, 2018, David Cox, CCE Ag Program Leader, and Alicia Terry, Senior Planner, Schoharie County Office of Agricultural Development, piloted (in NYS) a new farm transition planning curriculum to fifteen farm families at the new Farm Credit East facilities in Springfield, NY. Design Your Succession Plan is a two-day, interactive curriculum recently developed by North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension and now is available for facilitators across the country. Principal presenters were Carrie Johnson, Ph.D., and Ashley Ueckert, both Extension Specialists at NDSU and among the curriculum developers.

“We were excited to pilot a program for all farm partners that has been five years in development,” Cox said. “I have seen many programs over the years, but this one got my attention early on and I had to be patient while NDSU piloted it for the past two years prior to its release. The need is very real and timely, as we face the aging of our principal farm owners and operators. We were very pleased that several farms in our region took advantage of this unique opportunity. Many thanks to Farm Credit East for hosting the program and to those who sponsored this important event.”

Additional presenters included Jerry Cosgrove, Farm Legacy Director at the American Farmland Trust, who highlighted Conservation Options in Farm Estate Planning. Carin Zwahlen, EA, and Ed Maxwell, EA, both tax and finance consultants at Farm Credit East, outlined succession planning services as well as timely tax tips on estate planning while the IRS income tax deadline was rapidly approaching. Facilitators will following-up with farm participants in three months to update progress as well as to see where additional help may be needed.

“A successful transition takes careful planning and the willingness to address what can be challenging, but not insurmountable issues,” said Terry. “Participants are better able to open the lines of communications with family and farm partners to create a shared vision for the farm business. This program provides the tools and resources to begin a succession planning process, but the farms have to be ready to do the hard work.”

To that end, a second round of Design Your Succession Plan is scheduled for Fall 2018. On four consecutive Thursdays, October 25 - November 15, CCE Schoharie and Otsego Counties will host from in Cobleskill from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and CCE Oneida County will host in Oriskany from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The difference from the pilot program will be in participant preparation prior to the first session and the addition of a panel of local professionals in the fourth session. “An assessment of the farm business prior to the core succession workshop helps farm partners better understand what’s actually being transferred,” said Bonnie Collins, Project Director at CCE Oneida County. “And then in the final session, we will devote ample time to meet with local tax accountants, estate planners, lenders, and insurance agents, all experienced in farm succession planning. Conservation options will be presented as well... many left this session hungry for even more information and another opportunity to perfect their plan.”

Multiple generations are encouraged to attend. USDA research shows that with more than 80% of farm and ranch families (nationally) seeking to pass on the family farm to the next generation, only 30% of farms survive to the second generation, and only 12% survive to the third generation. "The program will prepare farm families to envision and shape the legacy of their family farm or ranch business, as well as save hundreds of dollars by completing these crucial planning steps before visiting with professionals," said Terry, “especially before the owner retires or is gone?”

The fall program will be open to farms throughout the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, including (but not limited to) Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego, Schoharie, Fulton, Montgomery, Chenango, and Delaware Counties. The cost to participate and final agenda will be forthcoming. For more information, call or email Alicia Terry at 518.295.8792 /; David Cox at 518.234.4303 (x119) /; or Bonnie Collins at 315.736.3394 (x104) /

This article is in our May/June 2018 Issue of Connections. Click here to read the issue.


David Cox
Ag Program Leader
518-234-4303 x119

Last updated September 11, 2018