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Farm/Ranch Succession Coordinator Training Set

John Baker and Kiley Mars of the International Farm Transition Network speak at an NDSU Extension Farm Sucession Coordinator training program. (NDSU photo) John Baker and Kiley Mars of the International Farm Transition Network speak at an NDSU Extension Farm Sucession Coordinator training program. (NDSU photo)
Succession coordinators help farm and ranch families transition their operation to the next generation.

More than 70 percent of U.S. farms are set to transition from one generation to another and 400 million-plus acres of farmland are expected to change hands during the next 15 years.

The families behind these farms will need professionals to help them make the transition. The North Dakota State University Extension Service is training professionals to help these families.

“Due to the success of the Farm Succession Coordinator programs in North Dakota in August 2015 and June 2016, NDSU Extension is hosting another training,” says Crystal Schaunaman, an Extension agent in McIntosh County and one of the event’s coordinators.

The third training program will be held Aug. 9-11 at the Career Academy on the Bismarck State College campus.

This training is offered specifically for agricultural professionals, service providers and organizational leaders who work with farmers and ranchers (owner and successor generations) on farm succession issues. These include attorneys, estate planners, accountants, tax planners, agricultural lenders, adult farm management instructors, financial advisers, retirement planners and anyone who will be working with farmers and ranchers as they transfer their business to the next generation.

“We are at a pivotal period in American agriculture,” says Ashley Ueckert, an Extension agent from Golden Valley County who is helping coordinate the training. “The economic future of our nation’s agriculture depends on next-generation farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to access land and agricultural enterprise.”

John Baker, an attorney with the International Farm Transition Network and administrator of the Beginning Farmer Center at Iowa State University, is one of the presenters for the training. Baker has spent most of his professional career working with families on farm and ranch succession. The training draws on his lifetime of experiences, including national and international research on this topic.

Other presenters are Mark Holkup, associate professor, farm business management education, Bismarck State College; Russ Tweiten, agribusiness consultant for AgCountry Farm Credit Services; and Kiley Mars, human resource development specialist from Des Moines, Iowa.

“There is a great difference between transferring farm and ranch assets to new owners and transferring a business that is likely to succeed in the future,” Baker says.

Because of these differences, many farm and ranch operators are realizing the importance of creating a succession plan and the value of a skilled facilitator to lead the process of exploring options, coordinating communication and conflict management, Ueckert says.

NDSU Extension is offering the Farm Succession Coordinator program as a next step to strengthen its Design Your Succession Plan educational programming, which is being held throughout North Dakota for farm families to get started on succession plans.

“As I work with farm and ranch families to get started with succession plans through our Design Your Succession Plan program, I often am asked who they can turn to for help in finishing the process,” Ueckert says. “By hosting this training again, NDSU Extension is expanding the network of professionals who will be trained to assist the families as they work through issues and conflicts while still providing the services they traditionally would.”

Farm Succession Coordinator training participants will work individually through recommendations for a farm family as part of a case study that will be assigned following the course. Those who complete the training and case study work will be designated as certified succession coordinators. The NDSU Extension Service maintains a list of professionals with the certification and will share the list with farm and ranch families across the state.

“Expanding the number of professionals in North Dakota who are available to assist farmers and ranchers to develop a succession plan for their business is one important piece of helping to assure a strong ag economy in the future,” Schaunaman says.

The early bird registration fee is $875 if paid by March 31. After that, the fee is $925 if paid by June 30. A $50 late fee will be added for registrations after that date. The training is limited to the first 30 professionals who register.

Visit for more information and the training agenda.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - March 17, 2017

Source:Ashley Ueckert, 701-872-4332,
Source:Crystal Schaunaman 701-288-5180,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391,
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