For Immediate Release

Farm Transition Planning Project Free Assistance Available

DeWitt, MI  (AgPR) February 16, 2015  The American Agri-Women  (AAW)  calls attention to the availability of a USDA NIFA grant from North Central Extension Risk Management Education is providing farm transition planning support for farm and ranch families. Ag Transition Partners, a group of agricultural professionals, are working with farm and ranch families on this project that includes webinars, on-farm and virtual coaching, and the use of web-based tools to guide families through the stages of farm transition and succession planning. This program is free of charge to farming and ranching families and there are only a few additional slots for interested families.

Farm transition planning is a high priority need in agriculture. 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% had named successors, and less than 11% had farm business transition plans in place. 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; or partitioning of family-owned and operated farm business assets to satisfy heirs who simply want to "cash in" on their share of the business. These worse case scenarios can be avoided when families learn how to work together as a team, confront the difficult issues and decisions, and commit to a decision.

The project funded three webinars, which are archived and available for viewing at The project requires participants to watch the webinars and complete an enrollment form before family or business coaching can begin. American Agri-Women is a co-sponsor of the project.

There are no workshops or long technical discussions about legal issues in the project; and no travel – the project comes to you. The customizable, hybrid approach will lead to more completed plans because we require a family coaching component that decreases communication barriers and helps in decision-making.  Ag Transition Partners believes that poor family communication is a symptom of a deeper issue, so we identify and solve those issues by facilitating an in-depth and highly successful teambuilding process with participants.  We also assign business coaches to each farm family.  Using coaches as part of an unbiased transition team in the early phases is critical to achieving a successful outcome.

This service is provided free of charge for 2015-2016 to ten farm families in midwestern states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, Participants from additional states will be enrolled if space and funds are available.

The project manager facilitates the 6-hour family discussions, addressing issues of conflict, commitment and accountability that often interfere with passing on the farm legacy. In phase two, a business consultant guides families through the transition steps using the University of Minnesota’s Ag Transitions online template. The entire process is designed to allow critical, multigenerational discussions so that all successors have input in the process; to reduce unproductive conflict; and to minimize the need for legal fees. Because the project focuses on business plan transfer and retirement planning, farm families who complete those two steps can proceed with estate planning in a succinct and cost effective manner.

Ag Transitions Partners is comprised of Joe Colyn, Originz, LLC (MI); Doris Mold, Sunrise Agricultural Associates, LLC (WI); Bob Olson, Elm Grove Enterprises (MN) and Kristine Ranger of The Learning Connection (MI).

To learn more, or to enroll a farm, please contact Kristine Ranger, Project Manager, at 517.974.5697 or via email at  Interested farm families can download the FAQ’s and enrollment documents at


Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Award Number 2012-49200-20032. Additional sponsors include American Agri-Women and the Center for Farm Financial Management, University of Minnesota. Michigan Agri-Women, Minnesota Agri-Women and Wisconsin Women for Agriculture are also supporters of the project.


About American Agri-Women
American Agri-Women (AAW) promotes the welfare of our national security through a safe and reliable food, fiber and mineral supply. Since 1974, AAW members have worked together to educate consumers; advocate for agriculture; and offer networking and professional development opportunities. For more information, or to join, visit Find AAW on social media at: and

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Media Contact: 
Jane Marshall
VP Communications
American Agri-Women
937.336.1456 - mobile - voice or text

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