In May the Extension program at Utah State University will hold a workshop to help assist owners and operators of family farms and ranches with transitioning their business to their successors. This is a unique opportunity for small agribusiness owners to visualize the future of the family farm with or without them.
Kynda Curtis is an agribusiness specialist and the organizer of the workshop: "I work with farmers and ranchers in Utah and the greater Great Basin to look at marketing and financial issues related to agriculture. Before I did my PhD, I did estate planning in the private sector, so that's why I'm involved in holding workshops to help people transition their businesses when they decide to retire."
Farmers and ranchers might not think about what will happen to the family farm or ranch when they're gone:
"It happens a lot of times that without planning that the farm has to be sold off. With proper planning at the beginning a lot of farms can very successfully transition to the next generation or transfer to a long-time employee."
One of the sessions is called What Does the Future Look Like - Christmas Letter Activity:
"We have them think about writing a Christmas letter 10 years in the future. What are you doing? What are your kids doing? What is your farm family business doing? We have them think about what that looks like. We have both generations attend the workshop and we put them together so they can talk about what they saw in common in their letters and what wasn't in common and how they can start thinking about where they see things going in the future."
There are mediators, local attorneys, and HR specialists to work with families to facilitate emotional conversations about the future, because it may be hard for some families to come to the realization that there isn't a future for them in farming and ranching.
The workshop will be held over 2 weekends -- May 3 & 4 and May 17 & 18 -- at Thanksgiving Point, 3003 N Thanksgiving Way in Lehi, UT.