Farm/ranch succession coordinator training set for Aug. 19-21

NDSU Extension
Farm Forum

More than 70 percent of U.S. farms are set to transition from one generation to another and 400 million-plus acres of farmland are expected to change hands during the next 15 years.

The families behind these farms will need professionals to help them make the transition. North Dakota State University Extension is training professionals to help these families.

“Due to the success of the Farm Succession Coordinator programs in North Dakota in 2015 and 2016, NDSU Extension is hosting another training,” says Crystal Schaunaman, an Extension agent in McIntosh County and one of the event’s coordinators.

The training program will be held Aug. 19-21 at the McGovern Alumni Center on the NDSU campus in Fargo.

This training is offered specifically for agricultural professionals, service providers and organizational leaders who work with farmers and ranchers (owner and successor generations) on farm succession issues. These include attorneys, estate planners, accountants, tax planners, agricultural lenders, adult farm management instructors, financial advisers, retirement planners and anyone who will be working with farmers and ranchers as they transfer their business to the next generation.

“We are at a pivotal period in American agriculture,” says Ashley Ueckert, an Extension agent from Golden Valley County who is helping coordinate the training. “The economic future of our nation’s agriculture depends on next-generation farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to access land and agricultural enterprise.”

John Baker, an attorney with decades of experience with succession planning, and Joy Kirkpatrick, a farm succession specialist with the University of Wisconsin’s Center Farm Succession Coordinator programs, developed the training curriculum.

Kirkpatrick, who has spent the last 25 years developing farm succession educational programs and working with farms and families on succession planning, and Kiley Fleming, the executive director of the Iowa Mediation Service, will be the instructors for NDSU Extension’s Farm Succession Coordinator program. Fleming has experience in human resources in addition to facilitation and mediation.

“Many farm and ranch operators are realizing the importance of creating a succession plan and the value of a skilled facilitator to lead the process of exploring options, coordinating communication and conflict management,” Schaunaman says.

NDSU Extension is partnering to offer the Farm Succession Coordinator program as a next step to its Design Your Succession Plan educational programming, which is being held throughout North Dakota for farm families to get started on succession plans.

“As I work with farm and ranch families to get started with succession plans through our Design Your Succession Plan program, I often am asked who they can turn to for help in finishing the process,” Ueckert says. “By hosting this training again, NDSU Extension is expanding the network of professionals who will be trained to assist the families as they work through issues and conflicts while still providing the services they traditionally would.”

Participants will be designated as certified succession coordinators when they complete the Farm Succession Coordinator training and individually work through recommendations for a farm family as part of a case study that will be assigned following the course. NDSU Extension maintains a list of professionals with the certification and will share the list with farm and ranch families across the state.

“Expanding the number of professionals in North Dakota who are available to assist farmers and ranchers to develop a succession plan for their business is one important piece of helping to assure a strong ag economy in the future,” Schaunaman says.

The early bird registration fee for the training is $900 if paid by July 19. After that, the fee is $975 if paid by Aug. 9. The training is limited to the first 30 professionals who register.

Visit for more information and the training agenda.

About 400 million acres of farmland are expected to change hands during the next 15 year as farms transition from one generation to the next.