Jolene Brown

Attendees Find Value in Farm Transition Workshops

Farmers and their families participated in the first of four farm transition workshops across the state of Minnesota Tuesday. There were 50 attendees at the first workshop, ranging from farmers considering retirement to beginning farmers to financial advisors taking in more information to share with their clients.

“The first thing you need to decide on your farm is if you are going to operate as a business-first family, then that you put a structure with proper plans and documents together and lastly that you set up good communication structures,” said Jolene Brown at the workshop.

Brown, a nationally recognized speaker, kicked off the workshop with a short session on the beginning steps farmers should take in farming with family members and preparing their farm for a successful future, with or without family members and preparing their farm for a successful future, with or without transition. Topics discussed with attendees included communication, hiring and job expectations and the documents needed in writing to increase the farm’s chance for a successful future.Jolene Brown

After Brown shared the value she sat down at farm tables to aid farm families in starting the transition process. She fielded attendee questions for a panel of farm transition experts to address farm financial, legal and estate transfer questions. The panel echoed the importance for farm operators to not put off the planning process, but instead get involved soon and see the process through to the end, complete with funding.

“Get started, know that it is a process and evolves overtime,” said panelist John Williams of Fredrickson & Byron. “Plan for what you think you can expect over the next couple of years. It will never be perfect the first time, but it is better than nothing and you can keep growing on what you have based on changes you’d like to see.”

The advisors also recommended people be clear about the outcome they want when they get started so each of them would be able to help create a better plan.

“I learned a lot about getting a good transition plan from the previous generation to the next one. And I think this [workshop] gives you a good place to start the process,” young farmer Eric Solheim of Crookston said.

The workshop was put on by the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and sponsored by the Minnesota Research & Promotion Council, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Bremer Bank, Eide Bailly, Fredrickson & Byron, Gislason & Hunter, and Northwestern Mutual.

A second workshop was held in Fergus Falls Wednesday at the Bigwood Event Center, and the last two workshops will be held Tuesday, Dec. 16 in Marshall and Wednesday, Dec. 17 in North Mankato. Click here to register for one of the two upcoming events.