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Will your farm survive after you?

Planning for transition is one of the hot topics at the Farm Futures Business Summit, set for Jan. 9-11 in Coralville, Iowa.

Pam Caraway

December 26, 2023

2 Min Read
Farmer looking into distance over farm fields
Getty Images/iStockPhoto

You’re a first-, second-, sixth-generation farmer. Whether you started the farm or your great-great-great grandpa on your mother’s side was the first to till the land, chances are good you want to see that farm continue after you’re gone.

Since we all know a goal is just a dream until you create a plan, one of the panel discussions at the 2024 Farm Futures Business Summit, set for Jan. 9 to 11, focuses on how to successfully transition your farm to the next generation. Family Dynamics: Farm Transition Conversation Starters for a Multi-Generation Family Business is on the schedule for 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Jan. 11.

Panel moderator Mike Downey, co-owner of Iowa-based Next Gen Ag Advocates and an associate at Farm Financial Strategies, each year helps create transition plans for 50 or so farmers.

“I don’t think I’ve met one farmer who doesn’t say they’d like to see their farm continue and stay in the family,” Downey said.

And yet, Downey points out, with 85% of farmers now checking off birthdays above 65, only one-third of all farmers have a succession plan in place.

For those who need a plan, or those thinking about creating a plan, three farmers will share their thoughts and tips on a successful transition strategy. In addition to Downey, the panel includes:

  • Scott McPheeters, Gothenburg, Neb.

    • McPheeters, the sixth generation on the family operation, farms with two sons. He and his wife have four grown children.

  • Ben Riensche, Jesup, Iowa.

    • Riensche has four grown children and farms with a son and son-in-law. He is the sixth generation on the farm.

  • Roger Safranek, Merna, Neb.

    • Four generations contribute to the operation, of which 160 acres is family ground that was homesteaded in 1882. He farms with one of his two sons and two grandsons plan to return to the farm after college.

The Farm Futures Business Summit not only focuses on legacy planning, but also includes presentations and conversation on finances, labor and other strategic aspects of ag business. To register, visit https://register.farmfuturessummit.com/.

About the Author(s)

Pam Caraway

Farm Futures executive editor

Pam Caraway became executive editor of Farm Futures in 2024. She has amassed a career in ag communications, including leadership roles in editorial, marketing and public relations. No stranger to the Farm Progress editorial team, she has served as editor of former publications Florida Farmer and Southern Farmer, and as a senior staff writer at Delta Farm Press.

She started her writing career at Northwest Florida Daily News in Fort Walton Beach. She also worked on agrochemical accounts at agencies Bader Rutter and Rhea + Kaiser.

Caraway says working as an ag communications professional is the closest she can get to farming – and still earn a paycheck. She’s been rewarded for that passion and drive with multiple writing and marketing awards, most notably: master writer from the Agricultural Communicators Network, a Plant Pathology Journalism Award from the American Phytopathological Society, and the Reuben Brigham Award from the Association for Communication Excellence.

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