Farm Succession Planning

Farm Succession Planning

Farm Succession Planning

Kristine co-founded Ag Transition Partners (ATP) in 2015 to help with passing on the family farm business. ATP is a collaboration between 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 Our Team:

Bob Olson, serves as a grant writer and business developer. 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.

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.

Fore more information on services, contact Kristine 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 each other, and with a transition team is an essential and cost-effective prerequisite to transition planning.

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 advanced and individualized learning; group planning, evaluation of decisions and defining action steps; and for capturing the transition plan.

How will families work together to resolve issues and move forward in a cohesive manner?

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) may be utilized 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 “soft” phase of 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), or a beginning farmer to lease your land, if needed.

What resources are utilized?

We use the online Ag Transitions planning template from Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota. Participants can create their own accounts at and add us as advisors. 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.

Our primary resource is a self assessing, self scoring profile called, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive  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 tool provides a 36-page highly personalized assessment with results for individuals and families, which guides the on-farm family discussions. All family members will be required to complete this 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 to twelve hours, split into sessions of two to three hours each. The length of each session depends on the participants and their needs. Although the preferred format is face-to-face, this portion can be accommodated with Skype, or other meeting technology.

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 on transitioning your farm.

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