Workshops highlight ways to keep the farm in the family
By: Mary Jo Wagner, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Passing the farm to the next generation used to be easier than it is today. That’s part of the reason there are three workshops in north western Wisconsin this week.
Growers and producers often find it’s hard enough to make a living on the farm when they’ve been in the business and experienced the so-called roller coaster ride for years, but for the next generation hoping to take over, the process can be complex, says Trisha Wagner, UW-Extension Ag agent in Jackson County. Wagner says a generation ago it was a simple process involving a will, and back then profit margins were higher, land values were lower, farms were smaller and tax rates weren’t as significant, “so drafting a will was easier and now we face many more challenges.”
To help farmers out, Wagner is involved in the first workshop in Black River Falls for retiring and beginning farmers. She says interest is very high -- and it should be says UW-River Falls agriculture professor and Extension farm specialist Gregg Hadley. He says many young people are eager to stay in farming. But mom and dad -- with a lot of equity in the business -- might not be ready to hand over the reins. Hadley says, the next generation often wants to make all the decisions, but they don’t have any money to invest in the farm. Those two dynamics can threaten the success of the operation, he warns.
Workshop agenda topics include dealing with disagreements, disaster, divorce and death. UW-River Falls is the site of a second workshop and the final one this week is at the tech school in Rice Lake. The Clark County Extension Office is handling registration.