Transferring a farm business to the next generation, or from one person to another, can be a challenging task. Legal matters, communication issues, tax laws, and personal differences are some of the many issues families and others face when determining how and when to transfer farm assets and business management control. Listed below are some resources that may help with the farm transfer and estate planning process.


Farm transfer planning

Listed below are some introductory as well as more in-depth articles and guides about farm transfer planning.

Getting started - an introduction to some of the issues and ideas

Going further - expanded guides with more details, worksheets, and self-assements

Additional resources

  • NJ Farmland Preservation Program - Some farm owners enroll their farms in farmland preservation as a part of their farm transfer process. Taking this step can make the land more affordable, generate additional income, and help make it easier to pass the farm to the next generation. For more information on the Farmland Preservation Program, contact the State Agriculture Development Committee at (609) 984-2504.

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  • NJ Farm Link Program - Some farm transfer processes take place between farmers who are not related, such as when a family does not have a member of the younger generation to take over the farm business. In these situations, the Farm Link Program may be able to help. One of the program's function is to help connect farm owners with farmers seeking access to land and farming opportunities.

 

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Communication during the transfer process

Sometimes the hard issues during the farm transfer process are the so-called "soft" issues - the ability of both generations or parties to understand, respect, and disucss one another's expectations, goals, desires, and plans. Listed below are some resources that may help foster good communication during the farm transfer process.

  • Transferring Your Farm or Ranch to the Next Generation - (Montana State University) - Discussion about family/business goals and expectations, as well as several worksheets, e.g., "Identifying What Is Important"

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  • Farm Succession and Transfer Strategies For the Junior Generation - Chapter VI of this guide looks at "Communication: Getting and Keeping the Conversation Going"

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  • Farm Succession Risk Management Checklist Online - A short yes/no survey to help farmers assess their current farm succession risks, along with suggestions for subsequent steps to take, including having family discussions

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  • Who Will Get Grandpa's Farm? (Purdue University) - FAQs about the tranfer process, as well as short videos depicting family communication in six different farm transfer scenarios

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  • NJ Agricultural Mediation Program - The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) coordinates a free mediation program in which trained, impartial, and certified mediators are available for helping families and others manage and resolve agricultural issues. Mediators do not have decision-making authority, but rather serve as skilled facilitators for helping families and others discuss and address difficult issues. Mediation can result in better understanding and better communication between the parties, which can foster a more successful farm transfer process. For more information on using one of the program's mediators, contact the program at (609) 984-2504.


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Retirement and estate planning

Farm transfer planning also includes planning for retirement (e.g., what the senior generation will do, be it farming or something else; sources of retirement income; and health coverage) and planning for the estate (e.g., the final transfer of assets). Listed below are some resources that may help with retirement and estate planning.



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Finding farm transfer consultants and professionals

There are many professionals who can help during the transfer process and be a part of your farm transfer team, e.g., an attorney, family counselor, mediators, accountant, financial planner, and others. The programs, organizations, and resources listed below may be able to help when looking for professionals who can help.

  • NJ Agricultural Mediation Program - The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) coordinates a free mediation program in which trained, impartial, and certified mediators are available for helping families and others manage and resolve agricultural issues. Mediators do not have decision-making authority, but rather serve as skilled facilitators for helping families and others discuss and address difficult issues. Mediation can result in better understanding and better communication between the parties, which can foster a more successful farm transfer process.

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  • Farm Credit East - The staff of Farm Credit East includes farm business consultants who can help farmers with estate, retirement, and farm business transition planning. Farm Credit East has two branches in New Jersey, one in Flemington and one in Bridgeton.
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  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) - RCE county offices are staffed by County Agricultural Agents who can help to answer questions about agricultural marketing, production, and more. Some county agents may be familiar with local professionals, e.g., attorneys, accountants, family counselors, and others, who cand help understand agricultural issues and can help with farm transfer planning.

  • New Jersey Farm Bureau - The New Jersey Farm Bureau is a membership-based organization for the agricultural community. Staff may be familiar with local professionals who can assist farmer members with their farm transfer plans.
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  • A Team Approach to Farm Transfer Planning Assistance (Land For Good) - This guidebook provides an overview of the farm transfer process and looks at the roles that agricultural professionals can play as part of a farm's farm transfer team.


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Farm transfer case profiles

  • Transferring the Family Farm: What Worked, What Didn't for 10 New Jersey Families (PDF) - This booklet tells the real life stories of 10 New Jersey farm families, with each profile highlighting the successess, challenges, and resources and learning experiences of a different family. The profiles are designed to provide farmers with information and ideas to consider as they evaluate their own situations and embark on their own transfer processes. While they are not intended to provide legal or tax advice - farmers should contact professionals to assess their individual situations - they offer strategies that farm families and others may find helpful when developing their own transfer plans.
     
  • Farm Succession Guidebook - Chapter 5 of this guide includes a compilation of farm transfer case profiles

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  • Successful Farm Transfer Planning for Farmers Without an Identified Successor - Chapter VII of this guide includes 3 farm transfer profiles


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