; Returning to the Farm in Wisconsin - Ten years of reaching farm businesses with succession planning | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Returning to the Farm in Wisconsin - Ten years of reaching farm businesses with succession planning

Joy Kirkpatrick, Kevin Bernhardt, and Charles Steiner


Farm succession is a process that can take years to implement and complete. For many farmers it is a process that happens once or twice in a career. In comparison, daily farm tasks and production management decisions can provide more immediate gratification to managers. For these reasons, it is easy to delay and avoid retirement and farm succession planning.

Staff from UW-Extension, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls and the UW Center for Dairy Profitability adapted a successful educational program from Nebraska and Iowa to address the needs of Wisconsin families facing farm succession. Returning to the Farm targets college juniors and seniors, and their families, who are considering entering a multiple generation farm business. The program addresses the financial, communication, planning, tax and legal concerns that farm succession brings to farm families.

Since 2005 seven Returning to the Farm programs have been held at UW-Platteville or UW-River Falls. Two hundred and thirty people have participated in the workshops, representing 70 farms.
Evaluations from the workshops indicate participants used the tools provided to analyze their farms and develop farm succession plans.
• 100% of the respondents to a one-year follow up evaluation indicated they increased their skills in strategic planning
• 79% improved their communication skills
• 94% “agreed” or “strongly agreed” they had analyzed the financial capacity of the farm to carry multiple families after participating in the workshops, while only 28% had done this before the workshops.
In addition, results from a 10-year anniversary evaluation conducted in 2015 of all participants will be shared.