Succession planning experts will help guide families through the process
MANHATTAN - When it comes to devising a plan to transition the family farm to the next generation, communicating may be the hardest part, according to Jeri Albright, who along with her husband, Corky, operates a crop and livestock operation in Jackson County, Kan.
"People don't want to talk about you not being there," said Albright, who has four grown children - one of whom farms with his parents. "It's hard for the children to talk about, but we really need to talk about things like health issues" before they come up.
To help agricultural producers with farm transition plans, Kansas State University will host workshops over the next several months in various locations around the state. Each meeting has different topics and speakers.
The Albrights began the process when they attended a workshop in 2010, sponsored by K-State Research and Extension, the Farm Analyst Program and Kansas Farm Management Association. They've worked with several professionals in developing their plan, including their attorney, KFMA and Farm Analyst economists, and agriculture and natural resources extension agent Jody Holthaus in the Meadowlark District. The Meadowlark Extension District is comprised of Jackson, Jefferson and Nemaha counties.
"Many people don't know what they own or what they're worth," Albright said, adding that planning for a farm transition from one generation to the next forces families to consider many factors and to make decisions. Sometimes those decisions are easier to avoid but ultimately, should be considered before a crisis hits.
She said she's attended several meetings on the subject and that although all participants have different circumstances, it was helpful to hear presentations as well as questions and answers from others.
The Albrights drew up an agreement in June, 2012: "We came out with a trust agreement, a will, power of attorney, medical power of attorney and a living will. Those were the five components of the paperwork," Albright said.
"I was relieved to have something down," said Albright, who added that because she and Corky are still farming, the plan can change if needed. "At least it's on paper and it has instructions and is a workable plan."
Jonie James, agriculture and natural resources extension agent in McPherson County, said the meeting she's hosting on Dec. 2 will focus on taxes and is a follow up to a previous transition meeting, which drew 250 people from several states including Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. It had a waiting list of 60.
"I just want to make sure people have a good understanding of their options," James said, adding that the more people know before they meet with their accountant and lawyer, the better.
Upcoming K-State Research and Extension workshop dates, locations and contact information include:
• Dec. 2: Financing the Transition (tax issues), McPherson, Jonie James. 620-241-1523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Dec. 7: Passing Down the Farm 2, Holton, Jody Holthaus. 785-364-4125 or email@example.com.
• Dec. 11: Introduction to Farm Transition Planning, Coffey County, Darl Henson. 620-364-5313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Jan. 25, 2014: Women in Agriculture, Liberal, Kylee Harrison. 620-624-5604 or email@example.com.
Several other meetings are still in the planning stages.