; Open Discussions, Collaborations, and Virtual Classrooms: Succession Planning in Idaho | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Open Discussions, Collaborations, and Virtual Classrooms: Succession Planning in Idaho

Ashlee Westerhold


According to the USDA Census of Agriculture 2017, the average age of a farm principal operator in Idaho is 57 years old (USDA-NASS 2017). As these principal operators are reaching retirement age, they are seeking professional help in transitioning their operations to the next generation. Many agricultural producers do not know where to start in their succession planning process. University of Idaho Extension Farm Management team has been providing succession planning workshops for over ten years; however, many participants did not move forward in their succession planning process. Three years ago, we met with an advisory board of professional agricultural business consultants, bankers, and commodity group leaders to discuss and develop new curriculum to help families move forward in their transition. Based on their recommendations, we overhauled our old curriculum and worked on providing for the needs of the state of Idaho.

University of Idaho Extension started concentrating on succession planning instead of business planning or estate planning as transitioning management is more difficult than transferring assets. We found focusing the course on human relationships and personal experiences helped move families forward in their planning. After conducting pre-surveys and post-surveys, we found our families participating in the course are further along in their succession planning process than they were a year ago. Since COVID 19, we moved the succession planning course online, which has increased our audience and allowed us to have people from all over the state along with other states join our program. Using both Zoom and Extension Foundation virtual classrooms, we have an even better course than the one in person.  A large part of the class is the connection with other farm families.