North Dakota farm/ranch legacy planning workshops set

NDSU Extension
Farm Forum

After many good years in agriculture, some retirement-age farmers and ranchers may be thinking that now is a good time to exit the industry while letting the next generation shoulder the brunt of uncertainty in today’s agricultural environment.

“Preparing the next generation to weather this uncertain environment is an important part of these potential retirements and important to the future farm/ranch legacy,” says Carrie Johnson, the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s personal and family finance specialist.

Recognizing the needs of farming and ranching families in this situation, NDSU Extension will offer Design Your Succession Plan (DYSP) workshops at a variety of locations throughout the state in the next several months. The curriculum includes a module developed specifically for those considering transitioning away from full-time farming or ranching.

“Very often, the two or more generations already are working together but have not yet taken the steps toward succession planning,” Johnson says. “It is often one of those things all parties know they should be doing, but they just haven’t gotten around to it, or they don’t know where or how to start.”

DYSP workshops help farm and ranch families think about what they want for their business, explore the options and consider the consequences of each option before making any decisions. Some may wish to transfer a viable business to the next generation. Others may wish to divide the farm or ranch assets and want to determine an acceptable way to do that.

“Family farms and ranches are the family legacy,” Johnson says. “DYSP workshops give the owner and his/her identified successor generation an opportunity to begin shaping the future ownership of the family farm or ranch.”

Family discussions about the future of the family farm can be difficult conversations. DYSP workshop participants learn how to start and sustain those discussions and get started on developing a succession plan. They also learn about choosing and preparing to work with legal and financial professionals who will help make sure the plan is workable.

“I felt this was what I really needed,” says David Miller, a Donnybrook-area producer who attended the workshops. “It gave me a road map to do what I want to do.”

Families who begin the succession planning process during the DYSP workshops and continue it at home can cut costs and save money because they are well-prepared to meet and work efficiently and effectively with legal and financial professionals, according to Johnson.

Here are the locations, dates and times of upcoming DYSP workshops, along with contact information for the Extension agents who can provide more information and details:

• Mandan – Nov. 21 and 28 and Dec. 5, 6 p.m., Farm Credit Services, 1600 Old Red Trail Road; Marissa Leier, 701-667-3340,

• New Salem – Nov. 21 and 28 and Dec. 5, Morton County Fairgrounds; Rick Schmidt, 701-794-8748,

• Watford City – Nov. 28 and 30 and Dec. 7, 1:30 p.m., McKenzie County Courthouse, 201 5th St. N.W.; Marcia Hellandsaas, 701-444-3451,

• Langdon – Nov. 30 and Dec. 5, Cavalier County Courthouse, 901 3rd St.; Anitha Chirumamilla, 701-256-2560,

• Belfield – Dec. 5, 7 and 12, 5:30 p.m., Choice Financial, 201 Main St. N.; Ashley Ueckert, 701-872-4332,

• Linton – Dec. 6 and 13, 6 p.m., Emmons County Courthouse, 100 4th St. N.W.; Kelsie Egeland, 701-254-4811,

• Towner – Jan. 16, 18 and 22, 2018, 5:30 p.m., 314 Main St. S.; Callie Johnson, 701-537-5405,

• LaMoure – Jan. 23, 25 and 30, 2018, 200 Highway 13 W.; Julianne Racine, 701-883-6085,

More locations will be added in the coming months. Visit for more information.