; Planning Today for Tomorrow’s Farms | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Planning Today for Tomorrow’s Farms

Alice Rhea


The average age of Tennessee’s farmers has been increasing, reaching 58 in 2007, with more than one-half of them being 55 or older. The aging implies that the next decade or two will witness significant changes in farm management and ownership. These changes pose risks to the continued operation of family farms and to the ability of new and beginning farmers to acquire farmland. These risks are compounded by commodity market volatility and current credit conditions. Estate and transition planning is a key element in the sustainability of farming operations. As profit margins narrow, improved financial management, from documentation and recordkeeping to choice of ownership entity, take on added importance. Although farm business and estate planning can greatly reduce these risks, many producers have not planned for the future of their farms – like the 50% of Americans who die without a will. However, unlike this 50%, farm families often have significant estates and ongoing commercial enterprises to transition from one generation to the next. Educating families about risks inherent in this transition will help to ensure that Tennessee’s next generation of farmers have a farm to operate. A detailed workbook and supporting curricula was developed to educate farm families on the options available for their succession plan. Education was delivered in 2009 through in-service trainings and regional workshops reaching approximately 250 individuals. This information will be disseminated to a much broader audience through face-to-face interaction, county and regional workshops and the continued evolution of an online portal in 2010.

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