Do you have a succession plan in place for your operation?

The Cavalier County Extension Service is here to help area producers and business owners design a succession plan to help transition family farms from one generation to the next.


Posted 11/05/2016

Macine Lukach and Anitha Chirumamilla, Cavalier County Extension Agents, were trained in August to present “Design Your Succession Plan” which will take place on November 15 and 17.
“The program is a collaborative effort of the NDSU Extension Service Personal and Family Finance & Farm Business Management teams,” Lukach explained.
The family farm or ranch is more than a business – it’s a family legacy that may have been cultivated, nurtured and maintained for generations. Each farm/ranch operation  is unique and, in turn, makes designing a farm succession plan just as unique and challenging for each family.
“No two plans will look alike. The goal is to find a personalized plan that will reflect your family’s vision for the future,” Lukach said.
Creating a plan will bring value not only to your operation but to your family beliefs and wishes. By completing a plan, you can provide financial security for you and future generations. You will provide opportunity for the next generation to continue and expand your farm/ranch business.
“Design Your Succession Plan” empowers families to get started on their succession plan. The first step is the hardest. Creating a succession plan takes time, effort, family communication and working with professionals. “Design Your Succession Plan” will help area producers explore what they want for their business, how to discuss it in the family and how to get started on creating a succession plan.
“It also will help you choose and prepare to work with professionals who will make the plan legal and viable,” Chirumamilla said.
Succession planning has emerged as a critical need for North Dakota producers. The average age of North Dakota farmers and ranchers is nearly 60, and many are looking toward retirement and transitioning their businesses. NDSU Extension Service took this information into consideration when creating the session plans by addressing questions such as Will our producers be ready to transfer those assets to whom they want, how they want and when they want them transferred? Will they transfer a viable business to the next generation?
“The program will prepare you to envision, communicate, plan, write and shape the legacy of your family farm or ranch business, as well as save hundreds of dollars by completing these crucial planning steps before visiting with professionals,” Lukach stated.
Producers of every age are encouraged to consider attending as this program is for families interested in shaping the future ownership of the family farm or ranch – the family legacy – whether that is transferring a viable business to the next generation or determining how to divide farm/ranch assets.
“The program is applicable to all ages,” Lukach said.
Over the course of the sessions Lukach and Chirumamilla will define the succession planning process and discuss how to communicate within families, as well as how to work with legal, tax and financial professionals to create a succession plan.
“This program is not designed to provide education on the more technical and legal tools used in implementing a succession plan, which often are beyond the scope of NDSU Extension expertise,” Chirumamilla stated.
“Design Your Succession Plan” is a multi-session workshop developed to help families:
• Get started by beginning work on their succession plan.
• Identify what is important to them and what they want to accomplish with their succession plan.
• Learn how to identify, select and mentor a successor who will acquire the skills needed to continue the farm/ranch business successfully.
• Open lines of communication in the family to create a shared vision for extending the family business into the next generation.
• Work with professionals to construct a plan and documents that put the family’s vision into action.
Having a strategic plan for ownership succession in place for the next generation is important. Farm family business ownership succession has some rather sticky and emotional issues that need to be discussed among all the family members involved. Being a family and staying together as a family even during difficult times or stressful situations needs to be the guiding light to help families work through these discussions that relate to the ownership succession of the family farm and transfer management control to that next generation.
So when should producers begin seriously planning for succession?
“Depending on the situation some say yesterday. You never know when something can happen, so it is so much easier if your succession plan is done now when you can communicate your wishes,” Lukach said.
Farm families working on succession planning often say the biggest obstacle is fair versus equal. How do you reward the child who has helped you create the legacy your operation has become, while at the same time honoring your other children in your final wishes? What is “equal” often is not “fair.” The NDSU “Design Your Succession Plan” program can provide farmers with tools to help determine the equity of what an on-farm child has contributed.
“It takes a lot of thought, effort and time to create a farm/ranch succession plan that serves a vision for the future that meets your goals and still allows for your dreams,” Chirumamilla said.
Lukach and Chirumamilla believe that this information is so relevant that anyone who is wanting to create a succession plan should attend the  sessions.
“Although the terminology refers to farm/ranch, I believe the tools would be great resources for our local businesses too,” Lukach said.
To register, please stop in at the NDSU Extension Service, Cavalier County office in the Courthouse in Langdon to complete the registration form and to make payment.
If families are interested in attending, we will extend the early bird registration of $125 to Tuesday, November 8. After that registration is $150 per person. A spouse may attend for an additional $50. Multifamily discounts also are available. Registration is requested by November 8.
The program is from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15 and Thursday, November 17 at the Langdon Research Extension Center. Each evening will begin with a light meal.

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