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Montana Ag Network: Preparing to pass on the family farm

Posted at 1:17 PM, May 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-06 13:43:32-04

Seventy percent of farmers and ranchers in Montana do not have the difficult discussion of passing on the family business.

Succession planning is never an easy discussion to have, especially with family.

Earlier this year, the Montana Soil and Water Conservation Society hosted the Plan, Prepare, and Pass It On conference.

The event brought together experts who provided resources farmers and ranchers can use to create a plan to pass a business to the next generation.

“There’s no greater gift you can make to your children than leaving a plan that’s going to allow them to all feel like they’ve had input and considered that they’ve been treated fairly,” said Montana attorney Kristen Juras, a presenter at the event.

Juras is a legal resource that families can use in the succession process. She says the question everyone asks is: “How do I treat the non-farm kids and the farm kids so that they both feel that they’re fairly treated?”

“Fair is not necessarily equal in the farm community,” she said

There are many steps and awkward conversations when creating a secession plan.

“As hard as it is, they’ve got to start planning,” said Juras. “They have to sit down and talk. Communication and transparency are important. Doing the work on figuring out how are we going to do this? Does it cash flow? Putting together a team of advisors that include accountants, financial planners, and attorneys that will help you implement your goals.”

After a team of advisors is assembled, Juras said it’s your plan, not the advisor’s plan.

“We’re not the ones to tell you what to do,” Juras explained. “There’s no one size fits all. We encourage you to talk to neighbors and see what other people have done. But, that may not work for you. And that’s why you need to do your homework and assemble your team of advisors to make sure that we accomplish your goals.”

Dillon rancher Deb Tamcke attended the planning workshop and said the size of the farm or ranch doesn’t matter.

“It doesn’t matter if you have one child that wants to come back or you have fifteen that want to come back. You need to come to these conferences and realize that you’re not the only one. Everybody has the same issues. It’s just a different dynamic.”

You can visit the Montana State University Extension website for more information.

-Lane Nordlund reporting for MTN News