Planning for Farm Transfer

Each farm succession situation is unique.  The number of involved, their equity positions and goals can differ vastly and will affect how the families or parties wish to proceed with their farm succession plan.  This section provided general background information on the planning process, facilitation tools to get the discussion started, as well as planing flow charts and models.  Assessment tools are included to help measure each person’s readiness for the changes that will take place with the succession.

Communication/Facilitation Tools

Effective communication is vital to the success of the farm transfer.  The facilitator can determine how family members or a group of people communicate with each other in the first facilitated session.  The role of the facilitator is to ask the difficult questions to start the discussions so that the participants will not be accused of broaching a controversial subject. Conflict can arise from almost any aspect of the succession plan in its tracks.  These resources provide information about effective communication and tools to initiate those difficult conversations that need to happen.


AgVentures Chapter 1: People Considerations PDF Farm Business Arrangements and Farm Transfers: This chapter covers people considerations including communications and conflict resolution.  Most of the material is visual aides and worksheets and homework for participants.  A stress test is also included.

AgVentures Chapter 6: The Five D’s PDF Farm Business Arrangements and Farm Transfers: This chapter discusses risk management and the five D’s: death, disagreement, disability, disaster and divorce.  It includes an exercise for developing a risk management plan.

AgVentures Chapter 8: Follow up Checklist PDF Farm Business Arrangements and Farm Transfers: This chapter is a follow-up checklist for participants who have completed the Business Arrangements and Farm Transfers course.

What Does Your Future Look Like? (Word Document) This worksheet can be used in a workshop or family meeting setting as a way to get participants thinking about their future, five and 10 years from the present.  The worksheet provides questions regarding their personal and business lives in five and 10 years.  It helps to frame their vision of the future.  In both workshop and family meeting settings, the facilitator should give each participant a worksheet and approximately 10 – 15 minutes to complete both sections.  The second step is to ask the participants to share their answers with their farming partners. Joy Kirkpatrick

Wants, Needs, Fears and Expectations PDF This teaching outline exercise is most successfully used in a workshop with several family or farming units participating.  The goal is to group the fathers, mothers, successors, successors’ spouses, and siblings into their own groups to discuss their wants, needs, fears and expectation in regards to the farm succession.  The time needed for this exercis is dependent on the group size.  Facilitators should factor in ample time for this exercise.

Farm Succession Assessment Tool PDF The checklist outlines the most common issues in a farm transfer and provides space for listing issues and concerns and specific action steps needed.

Planning Flow Chart Options

This one-slide PowerPoint outlines the steps in business succession planning.  The first section outlines personal vision, mission and goal development, and self-assessment for each generation involved in the planning process.  The second section addresses vision, mission and goal development for the business.  Finally, the business, retirement, transfer and estate planning are addressed simultaneously because they influence each other.

This business succession flow chart can be used as an introduction to the process in a workshop or consultation setting.  Many times, the initial discussion or question that brings families to the county Extension agent involve the last four components, with little time spent on the personal or business strategic planning in the upper two-thirds of the flow chart.  Educators can use this flow chart to ensure decisions made reflect the personal and business visions and will reach the individual and business goals.

Business Succession Planning Flow Chart PDF

By John Baker of Iowa State University

Planning Models

One of the most important steps in planning is to determine where the people are, and fit the planning model to their needs.  Planning is not a one-size-fits-all process.  Some farms may need to have several plans being developed and implemented at the same time. They may need a strategic plan, a transition plan, a retirement plan, and an expansion plan.  This section will explain some of the steps and differences between various possible plans and planning models that you may use as guides.

AgVentures Chapter 7: Putting It All Together PDF Business Arrangements and Farm Transfers: This chapter is designed to pull the participant’s farm transfer plan together with a SWOT exercise and an action plan.  It has three worksheets for participants.

Readiness Assessment

These tools can help the facilitator and farm succession participants measure their readiness for the changes that will take place. The assessment tools address changes in lifestyle, finances, management and ownership that the parties may not have considered.


Getting Established in Farming: Business Management for Farmers This publication focuses on the process of deciding whether to start farming and which methods are the best.  It includes an assessment of resources available and methods of matching them up with the best entry options.  Various business arrangements are evaluated including different types of partnerships.  The typical order of transfer of farm assets is addressed, including cattle, machinery and real estate.