Date of this Version
"How do we transfer information, values and the land to the next generation of agricultural producers?" is a question often asked. This is an especially important question today as agriculture wrestles with a complexity of stresses and strains as described by Knox (1995):
Agriculture is in the midst of a major transformation from how to produce more to how to produce more efficiently in an evermore competitive and global market. Agricultural production systems must be economically profitable, while at the same time environmentally compatible and socially acceptable. The primacy of the consumer is recognized and is driving the need to find new products, add value to existing products, and do so with fewer inputs such as water and chemicals. Resources such as land, public and private, must be managed to sustain or increase productivity without adversely affecting the environment. Survival of the family farm in the midst of corporate concentration and industrialization of agriculture is a major and relatively new challenge. Competition for resources such as capital, land, water, technology, and management expertise continues to intensify as urbanization and growth continue unabated. ... Many families are in crisis and in need of new tools--economic, technical, and social--to survive in an economy that is uncertain and subject to daily change. (p. 2)
The first purpose of this paper is to describe how critical and urgent the estate transfer issue is. The second purpose is to offer some technical and people tools for creating amicable transfer plans. By using these tools well, farm and ranch families can increase the likelihood that their family business will survive well into the 21st century.