Farm Transitional Planning

Farm Transitional Planning In Michigan

Farm Transition Planning

Kristine is a co-leader of Ag Transition Partners (ATP), founded in 2015 to help with passing on the family business. ATP is a collaboration between four independent business consultants, each possessing a different specialty, who share a common end goal. Our priorities are your family, your legacy, and your financial future!

We are available for speaking and workshops at conferences and events; individual consultations; and family coaching. 

Kristine’s role is to conduct the initial on-farm family coaching sessions that will guide family members in overcoming interpersonal barriers and obstacles in the transition and succession process. 

Passing on a family business can be complicated. Our team at ATP works with families who find themselves at different stages of the succession process, providing informative teaching, coaching, resources, and practical guidance regarding:

• Developing an effective transfer of the farming assets and the knowledge necessary to continue the farm business. 

• Multi-generational discussions that are necessary to get your family moving forward. Whether it be damaged relationships from the past or current conflict, we identify and help overcome the interpersonal barriers that lead to poor communication and stalled decision-making. Using a facilitated process, we increase understanding, build trust, and show you how to achieve shared commitment to a farm transfer. 

• Communicating your desires among the many stakeholders and holding them accountable. 

• Determining how to be fair and equitable to all heirs.

• Assessing whether the business will adequately support the new owner(s).

• Formalizing your plan and seeking legal assistance.

• Utilizing resources and technology to help your family navigate this emotional path together.

Meet my Team:

Bob Olson, founder of Elm Grove Enterprises in Stillwater, MN serves as a grant writer and business developer. He was born and raised on a Wisconsin dairy farm and previously employed as an Extension Agent/Educator with the University of Minnesota, specializing in Agronomy/Soils and Farm Management, including farm financial, estate and transition planning. Since 2005, he has worked with value-added agricultural business performing feasibility studies, market assessments, and business plans. Learn more about Bob here.

Joe Colyn leads the agri-food consultancy Originz, LLC out of Battle Creek, MI where he helps clients deliver “food systems for a healthier world”. He brings scenario planning, strategic thinking and a broad base of business and technical knowledge to help companies, trade associations, farmers and other clients envision and realize new opportunities. For Ag Transition Partner clients, he serves as a business coach to farm families in the transition and succession process. Learn more about Joe here.

Doris Mold is an Agricultural Consultant, Agricultural Economist, and Educator, as well as a farm co-owner/operator. She is the President of Sunrise Agricultural Associates, LLC based out of western Wisconsin. Doris teaches Farm and Agri-Business Management at the University of Minnesota (U of MN) for the MAST International Program and has worked as a business plan/transition plan coach for several years, coaching numerous producers in the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Farmers. Previously, she worked as an Agricultural Economist at the U of MN. Doris serves as a business coach to farm families for ATP. Learn more about Doris here.


Why are farm succession and business transition planning important?

An estimated 70% of farms/farmland will transition in the next 20 years and fewer than 50% of farmers have estate plans, less than 70% have named successors, and less than 11% have farm business transition plans in place.

Delayed planning is a complex and challenging problem. The consequences of a failure to plan can be severe—if the farm is inherited by multiple heirs, inheritance taxes and other fees may cripple the farm and its new owners. Inadequate farm succession planning may result in heirs becoming owners who are incapable of running the farm business; family conflict among heirs; and partition of family-owned and operated farm business assets to satisfy heirs who simply want to “cash in” on their share of the business. These worst-case scenarios can be avoided when families learn how to work together as a team, confront difficult issues and decisions, and commit to a decision. We believe that poor family communication is a symptom of a deeper issue and that effective two-way communication with a transition team is essential and cost-effective.

What are the steps in our coaching process?

We concentrate on a business plan transfer and retirement planning. Farm families that complete those two steps can proceed with estate planning. Our blended approach for coaching families through these steps includes individual and family assessments and on-farm coaching; onsite or virtual coaching for business transfer planning; and using the proven University of Minnesota’s Ag Transitions online template for capturing the action plan.  

What is the timeline?

We encourage families to engage with us on a timeline of 12-18 months, ideally capitalizing on slow seasons on the farm to complete major sections of your transition plan. With USDA Risk Management funding, we created a set of helpful webinars to introduce the steps we use for coaching farm families through this process.

We encourage you to view webinars II and III to gain a better understanding of our approach before contacting us.

Farm Transition: Planning for Success II – Mapping the Process: covers specific information about business plan transfer, retirement planning, estate plan preparation, and introduces both the web-based planning template and the family coaching process used in our approach.

View the webinar here:

Farm Transition: Planning for Success III – Making it Happen: provides participants with a thorough overview of the on-farm family coaching piece, including the expectations and requirements for each family member.

View the webinar here:

How will families work together?

For the on-farm family coaching piece, we will utilize face-to-face on-farm meetings and technology (Hangout, Skype, phone conferencing, etc.) to bring geographically dispersed families and successors together to discuss and overcome the interpersonal barriers to successful planning. A “Family Charter” (similar to a Team Charter) will be used in this phase to document the overall farm transition goals and clearly define individual roles, responsibilities, and operating rules; as well as establish procedures for family members on communicating and decision-making. It lays out a blueprint for conducting the steps in farm succession and business transition and also defines how the family unit will work together in an empowered manner. 

What if I don’t have a named successor?

You are encouraged to participate even if a successor hasn’t been named. A successor can be a family member, non-farm heir or another interested party. We will work on your behalf to identify a successor(s) if needed. 

What resources are utilized?

In Phase II, we use the online Ag Transitions planning template from Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota. Participants can create their own accounts at Using this platform, principle farm owners with the help of a business consultant, will develop farm transition goals and record pertinent information that includes assets, liabilities, business structures, and financial trends. This process will stimulate multi-generational discussions and allow for the sharing of a plan with successors and transition team members to generate feedback and assistance.  

In Phase I, families will use information from the best selling business book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, to identify, discuss and forge action steps for developing trust, overcoming conflict, gaining commitment, and holding each other accountable to a plan of action. Through guided facilitation, this approach will help family members learn to work together better to become more effective and more focused on achieving a written transition plan. This phase of the project includes a 36-page highly personalized assessment with results for individuals and families, which will guide the on-farm family discussions. All family members will be required to complete The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team online assessment to generate the discussion tool.

How do we know if we can benefit from your services?

In many families, there is a feeling that they are unable to make immediate progress due to unresolved issues or uncertainty tied to the lives of individual family members. Research has shown that personal disappointments, strained relationships, and high-stress levels are evident when considering and discussing farm planning issues. To prepare for this phase of the program, consider the following questions:

Would the family dynamics improve if people were more frank with their opinions?

Does the future of the farm suffer because people aren’t committed?

Would the succession planning process improve if people were better at holding one another accountable?

Have you seen progress stifled because people put their own needs ahead of the farm needs?

How much time will this take?

Each farm situation is different, so it is difficult to predict the amount of time that will be needed for coaching each family through the steps of a business plan transfer and other preparations that must be completed prior to estate planning. The total time estimated for the family coaching piece is ten hours, split into two sessions of three, five hours each. The length of each session depends on the participants and their needs. The business consulting can be done in person, with Skype, or other technology and can be done within an 18-month period.  

How and when do I involve local professionals?

We will help you form a “Transition Team” comprised of one or more consultants and local subject matter experts such as a lawyer, accountant, real estate agent, insurance agent, and other professionals. Our hope is that families will be better equipped to communicate their goals and plans to these local professionals, resulting in a smoother and more economical estate planning process.   

Contact Kristine Ranger at (517) 974-5697 or today for more information farm transitional planning!

Primary Communities Served



Saint Johns

Grand Ledge