Farm succession planning

Ron Kern
Posted 1/18/24

Mapping out a succession plan to keep a farm in the family and family members on the farm is important. Farm family members must adopt a vision for keeping their farm operation in the family to pass onto future generations.

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Farm succession planning


Mapping out a succession plan to keep a farm in the family and family members on the farm is important. Farm family members must adopt a vision for keeping their farm operation in the family to pass onto future generations.

Dr. Ron Hanson, the country’s leading authority on farm succession planning, would like to convince you to do something now about farm succession planning. Hanson has counseled and worked with farm families for over four decades helping them resolve family conflicts and improve family relationships through better communication and planning.

Hanson notes, “Of all the challenges you face, passing the farm to the next generation will likely be the biggest. Most families understand the importance of succession planning, but very few have a plan in place.”

Hanson has personally witnessed countless times where families have not prepared to transition the farm to the next generation ending in heartbreak for all involved. “Farm family members must adopt a vision for keeping their farm in the family for the next generation. Without identified goals and deadlines farm succession usually fails and less than one-eighth of family farms make it to the third generation.”

Most multi-generation family farming operations start out with the best of intentions for keeping their farm in the family and allowing their adult farming children to gain ownership that continues their farming legacy.  But often that never happens.  Mistakes in the planning process by families can cause these intended succession plans to fail and derail any hopes of passing on the family farm to the next generation.  Often ending the dream of the adult farming children for taking over their family operation.  

Avoiding difficult but necessary family conversations invites failure.  Family members must be open and truthful with each other to achieve positive outcomes with their succession plans and intentions.  Achieving transparent channels of communications that allows all family members voices to be heard and understood results in a successful transition plan for farm ownership succession.   This session provides family farming operations with planning ideas and solution strategies to implement that will help prevent a transition planning failure to ever happen and thus avoid a potential farm succession train wreck.

Passing on the eventual ownership of a farming operation along with management control to the next generation can be an overwhelming task for farm families.  Succession planning is a journey with difficult questions and challenges demanding answers.  Failing to find solutions can prevent a successful transition of farm ownership between generations.

Farming operations are notorious for procrastinating and avoiding any difficult succession conversations to side step family confrontations.  Most family disputes never evolve from what was discussed; but from what was NOT DISCUSSED.  Family members must communicate and work effectively together to implement a successful ownership transition plan.  Expectations must be identified and clarified to avoid potential misunderstanding.  A step-by-step planning strategy with guidelines will be shared to accomplish transferring farm ownership to the next younger farming generation.  Planning resources will be identified to empower farm families with the management tools for a successful farm succession plan. 

The Young Leaders in Carroll, Ogle, Lee, Stephenson and Winnebago-Boone County Farm Bureaus are hosting Dr. Hanson for a farm succession workshop on Feb. 29 at the White Pines Lodge. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. followed by Dr. Hanson’s presentation.

His program is titled “Avoiding the mistakes of a farm succession planning train wreck; and empowering families to succeed in farm succession.” His six-step program will guide you through the emotional pitfalls families face when deciding how to structure their succession plan for success.

Cost for the program is $50 per person. This program is open to farm bureau member families only on Carroll, Stephenson, Ogle, Lee and Winnebago Counties. Seats will be reserved for the first 125 who register.

To make your reservation either call the Ogle County Farm Bureau at 815-732-2231; or email

All reservations must be made no later than Feb. 15.


The Ogle County Farm Bureau is pleased to announce that applications for their 2024 Scholarship Program will be available beginning Jan. 3 to graduating high school seniors, or those enrolled at an accredited university. Farm bureau members may pick up or have applications mailed. Applications can also be downloaded from the Ogle County Farm Bureau website at

Eight scholarships totaling $8,500 will be awarded.

Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria: must be a high school graduate; must be an Ogle County Farm Bureau member or dependent of a member; must be accepted at an accredited university or college and pursue an agricultural or agricultural-related field of study; must be a resident of Illinois; and must demonstrate a financial need.

Applicants can be graduating high school seniors or students currently enrolled in an accredited college or university.

Applicants successfully completed and submitted will be judged on criteria including: academic performance, demonstrated interest in agriculture, financial need and character/personality.

Those interested in receiving a scholarship application should contact the Ogle County Farm Bureau at 815-732-2231; or stop by their office at 421 W. Pines Road in Oregon. Applications can also be downloaded by visiting our website at

All applications and accompanying materials must be received no later than April 1, 2024.

Ron Kern is the manager of the Ogle County Farm Bureau.