MANHATTAN – Kansas farm and ranch families continuously look at best options for feasibility and profitability– they attend educational meetings, try out new practices, assess any risks involved and talk with their neighbor or consultant. They make numerous decisions from day to day that will affect the operation both now and in the future.

Future sustainability of the farm or ranch also depends on whether the family has planned for succession. The average age of U.S. producers continues to rise and families will need to explore options for the transitional feasibility of current and future operators. Succession planning is a step-by-step process where families work together to develop a plan to incorporate the next owner and pass on knowledge and resources that will sustain the operation.

Farm and ranch families may be uncertain of how to begin developing a succession plan and need guidance moving forward. This is where a succession planning facilitator plays a key role.

“The facilitator can help the family identify strengths, barriers and opportunities as they pass the farm business on to the next generation. They guide family members to resources and individuals who can help them find the information they need to develop an effective succession plan,” said Jerry Jost, facilitator and mediator for Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services, a program administered by K-State Research and Extension.

Jost describes a facilitated meeting as guiding participants through shared discussions about important issues: “Facilitators help families set an agenda and guide the process for planning their succession. The facilitator works to enable all voices to be heard within a respectful environment. While the facilitator remains neutral with the content of the discussion, they help everyone keep track of the substantive issues and options raised by the family as they chart their path forward.”

Trained facilitators have experience working with Kansas farm and ranch families. They offer guidance and support as families cultivate options for creating a succession plan. Facilitation services can be requested by calling Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services at 800-321-3276.

Families may also visit the succession planning website and navigate through a variety of resources, such as “Transition Planning: 12 Steps to Keep the Family Farming” and more topic-focused areas such as estate planning or “FamilyTALK.” The website is available at http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/kams/.

Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services is administered by K-State Research and Extension. The program supports Kansas producers in resolving a variety of agricultural-related concerns and maintains confidentiality during the process. Information and guidance on any ag-related issue will be provided at no cost through our toll-free hotline, 1-800-321-3276 or visit our website at http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/kams/.v