The course is for those who work with retiring farmers and ranchers on farm/ranch transfer issues.

The North Dakota State University Extension Service is hosting a training program Aug. 11-13 at Richard H. Barry Hall on the NDSU downtown campus in Fargo for those interested in becoming a certified farm succession coordinator.

This training is offered specifically for agricultural professionals, service providers and organizational leaders who work with retiring farmers and ranchers on farm transfer 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, with more than 70 percent of U.S. farms set to transition during the next 15 years and more than 400 million acres of farmland expected to change hands during this time,” says Ashley Ueckert, an Extension agent from Golden Valley County who helped 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 the International Farming Transition Network and administrator of the Beginning Farmer Center at Iowa State University, is one of the presenters for the training. Baker has spent most of his professional career working with families on farm and ranch succession. The training draws on his lifetime of experiences, including national and international research on this topic.

Other presenters are David Ripplinger, an assistant professor in NDSU’s Agribusiness and Applied Economics Department; Russ Tweiten, agribusiness consultant for AgCountry Farm Credit Services; and Kiley Mars, a human resource development specialist from Des Moines, Iowa.

“There is a great difference between transferring farm and ranch assets to new owners than it is to transfer a business that is likely to succeed in the future,” Baker says.

Because of these differences, 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, Ueckert says. This training will offer participants insight on the barriers to farm/ranch succession, strategies on working with families, facilitation tools to guide the process and opportunities to consider real-life examples of farm transfer conflicts.

NDSU Extension is offering this program as a next step to strengthen its Design Your Succession Plan educational programming offered to producers.

“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, NDSU Extension is creating a 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.”

This is the first time the three-day certification training has been offered in North Dakota. It has been offered in several other states.

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

AgCountry Farm Credit Services is co-sponsoring the training program.

The registration fee is $750 if paid by July 27. After that, the fee is $850. Registration is limited to the first 30 professionals registered.

Visit http://tinyurl.com/prmzc3j for more information and the training agenda.