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Women in #ag #farm Transition

Last week I attended the Women in Ag Conference in Kearney.  It’s always a great conference to see many friends and meet new ones who live and work in agriculture!  I also enjoyed teaching a very engaged group of women the second day about crop science investigation.  It was fun for me to see them dig into the hands-on activities!

The first session I attended was by Dave Specht from the UNL Ag Economics Dept.  He does a great job of relating to the audience and talked about “Woman’s Influence-the Key to Generational Business Transitions”.  Dave has a consulting business on the side and as part of that business he meets with families to develop a farm transitional plan based on the Continuity Quotient he developed.  The Quotient contains 7 parts and I’ll share some key highlights via questions he raised that stuck out to me.  Perhaps they’ll raise more questions for you as well.
1-Business/Estate Planning:  The goal of the business/estate plan is to reduce the number of surprises to the farm and family members upon death of the farm owner.  Is your plan coordinated with all the advisers in the operation and does it consider the perspectives of all the generations involved in the operation?  Is it even documented and has it been communicated to the entire family before the owner passes away?
2-Communication:  Are family members able to openly discuss the farm and what it means to them?
3-Leadership Development:  No one is ever “ready to take ownership”; it is learned along the way.  Opportunities for the next generation to make decisions need to be allowed.  Often we hear of exit plans, but is there an “entrance plan”-a strategy to invite the next generation back to the farm?
4-I didn’t catch the name of this point but essentially Dave was saying that if the next generation is always asking his/her parents for a bailout, that it delays the trust that the person can someday operate the farm.  How the next generation handles personal finances is important in showing he/she can someday run the operation.
5-Personal Resilience:  How does the next generation handle challenges?  Does the person retreat and avoid them or does the person look for ways to overcome them and use it as a growing experience?  If the person retreats, he/she may not be wired for ownership in the future.
6-Retirement/Investment Planning:  When will the older generation plan to retire?  How much will the farm support (meaning how many people)?  Where will retirement cash flow come from?  The goal is to not rely on the next generation to generate your entire retirement income.
7-Key non-family employees:  Sometimes the most valuable family business asset goes by a different name!  Is the vision for the family farm communicated to these employees?  How you talk about employees to next generation and how you talk to next generation about the employees is important in dictating future partnerships; someday the employees and next generation will be partners.

I would recommend checking out Dave’s Web site at for more information.  He provides communication and consultation about farm transition and financial planning.  Life is so short!  Make sure you have a plan in place that follows the keys Dave provided above!

Upcoming Farming Workshops

Let the season of Workshops begin!  Hope you are able to attend!

***Nov 30-Farmers and Ranchers College with Dr. David Kohl:  “Global Economic Impacts on the Farm and Ranch” will be the topic of Dr. Kohl’s presentation on November 30th from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Bruning Opera House in Bruning, NE.  There is no fee.  

***Nov. 30-Specialty Crops Grants Available:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided a grant to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) to administer a project that is designed to provide small, competitive grants, in amounts of up to $4,600, to a limited number of Nebraska specialty crop growers for the sole purpose of extending the growing season for specialty crops.  Growers who want to be considered as a potential project applicant for the 2012 year can find more info. and complete the application by Nov. 30th at: 
Farmers wishing to apply and needing assistance with the application process and writing their proposal are welcome to contact NSAS through or the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center with Elaine Cranford at,

***Dec. 2-Symposium to Feature Fruit and Vegetable Production, Marketing Strategies:  Fruit and vegetable growers are invited to attend the Tri-State Fruit and Vegetable Growers Symposium Dec. 2 from noon to 5:15 p.m. at Stoney Creek Inn, 300 Third Street, in Sioux City, Iowa. Featured speakers include South Dakota State University Professor of Forestry John Ball with an overview of specialty crops and Tim Vala of Vala’s Pumpkin Patch near Omaha providing marketing tips. Growers can choose from a variety of fruit/vegetable production and marketing sessions led by university extension horticulture specialists and experienced local growers. Topics include fruit trees, aronia berries, grapes, ethnic vegetable varieties, organic insect and pest control, and community supported agriculture strategies. The symposium is planned in partnership with University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and South Dakota State University Extension. Cost is $25 for the first person and $15 for the second person participating from the same farm or business until Nov. 23. Cost at the door is $30. For more information or to register call ISU Extension in Woodbury County at 712-276-2157 or visit

***Dec. 3-Explore Farming Class Planned:  Do you have dreams of self-sufficiency and living off the land? Are you a budding entrepreneur?  If so, you may wish to attend the free Explore Farming Class at UNL Extension in Lancaster County on December 3, 2011 from 10 – noon. This two-hour seminar will help you think through the resources, skills, and time you will need to launch a successful farm business. Local farmers and participants in the Community CROPS Growing Farmers Training Program will be on hand to answer questions. Information about various training opportunities in the 2012 season will also be available. The class is free, but you must register to attend. To register, simply send your name and phone number to For more information, check out this website:

***Dec. 5-Summit on the Proposed Revised 2011 P-Index:  A Dec. 5 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Animal Manure Management team workshop will help those who work closely with livestock operations and their nutrient management plans. The “P-Index Summit” will be at the Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave. in West Point, Neb. The program will be from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Central Time. Topics include: the science and history of the P-Index, discussion on proposed revisions, case studies illustrating the differences between the 2007 and 2011 versions and discussion of livestock environmental issues of interest. CCA continuing education units will be available.
     For more information and to register, contact Leslie Johnson at 402-584-3818, email Registration is $20 per participant if sent with your registration or $25 at the door. The use of a computer with Microsoft Excel is necessary; please bring your laptop as there will only be a few extra computers. To save time the day of the event, old and new versions can be downloaded at These workshops are sponsored by the UNL Extension AMM team which is dedicated to helping livestock and crop producers better use the state’s manure resources for agronomic and environmental benefits. For additional information and other resources for managing manure nutrients, visit

***Dec. 6-Landlord/Tenant lease workshop:  I can’t stress enough for you to consider attending this workshop and it is recommended that the landlord and tenant attend together!  Cash Rental rates for farmland has nearly doubled in the past 6 years.  Volatility in the grain markets is wilder than ever.  These and other land lease issues will be discussed Tuesday, Dec. 6th at the Adams Co. Fairgrounds in Hastings.  The program begins with registration at 5:00 p.m. and concludes at 9:00 p.m.  The main purpose of these workshops is to help with establishing and maintaining positive farm leasing relationships.  A meal and handouts will be provided. The workshop is free to participants because it is sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board.  Participation is limited, thus you will need to pre-register to reserve your spot.  To pre-register, please contact the UNL Extension Office in Adams County at 402-461-7209. 

***Dec. 9-10-Returning to the farm:  If you are considering a family member returning to the farm in the future, please consider attending this returning to the farm program!  It will be held Dec. 9-10 and Jan. 6-7  the Holiday Inn Downtown in Lincoln and it is required that you attend both weekends and that all members of the farm management team attend.  Bringing a young person into a farm/ranch operation presents challenges. However, the business operation can accomplish numerous goals by helping the young person get a solid start in the operation, keeping the farm/ranch in the family, and ensuring a comfortable retirement for all involved.  Blending a variety of talents and personalities into one farming or ranching operation takes planning, communication, and management.  The Returning to the Farm program is designed to assist families and operations in developing a financial plan and successful working arrangements that will meet the needs of multiple families. For more information call 800-472-1742 or check out:

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