Many North Dakota farmers and ranchers know that when they retire, they want their business to stay in the family, but they aren’t sure how to make that happen.

They aren’t alone. Studies indicate that while 88 percent of farm families hope to pass the farm on to the next generation, only 30 percent of farms survive the second generation, 12 percent survive the third generation and 3 percent survive the fourth generation.

To reverse that trend, the North Dakota State University Extension Service is offering “Design Your Succession Plan” educational programs at a number of sites across the state this fall and early winter. This program is designed to assist farm and ranch families get started on their succession plan and help them shape the future ownership of their business.

During the multisession program, participants will:

  • Get started on a succession plan using a workbook
  • Open lines of communication in the family to create a shared vision for the family business that extends into the next generation
  • Learn how to be prepared to work with professionals to develop a succession plan and documents that put the family’s vision into action

The locations, dates, starting times and contacts for the sessions are:

  • Towner, NDSU Extension Service office, McHenry County - Nov. 3, 5 and 10 at 5:30 p.m.; Callie Johnson, (701) 537-5405,callie.johnson@ndsu.edu
  • Amidon, Slope County Community Center - Nov. 3, 5 and 10, 1:30 p.m. Mountain time; Shelby Hewson, (701) 879-6270,shelby.hewson@ndsu.edu
  • Minot, North Central Research Extension Center - Nov. 16 and 19, 6 p.m.; Paige Brummund, (701) 857-6444,paige.f.brummund@ndsu.edu
  • McClusky, Sheridan County Courthouse - Nov. 19, 23 and 24, 5 p.m.; Nicole Wardner, (701) 363-2242; nicole.wardner@ndsu.edu
  • Medora, Cowboy Hall of Fame - Nov. 30, Dec. 3 and 7, 5:30 p.m. Mountain time; Ashley Ueckert, (701) 872-4332,ashley.ueckert@ndsu.edu
  • Fessenden, Wells County Fairgrounds - Dec. 1, 3 and 10, 6 p.m.; Lindsay Maddock, (701) 547-3341, lindsay.maddock@ndsu.edu
  • Watford City, McKenzie County Courthouse - Dec. 1, 3 and 10, 5:30 p.m.; Marcia Hellandsaas, (701) 444-3451,marcia.hellandsaas@ndsu.edu
  • Rugby, Dakota Farms - Dec. 7, 8 and 10, 6 p.m.; Yolanda Schmidt, (701) 776-6234, yolanda.schmidt@ndsdu.edu
  • Linton, Emmons County Courthouse - Dec. 7 and 14, 6 p.m.; Kelsie Egeland, (701) 254-4811, kelsie.egeland.2@ndsu.edu

The program is open to families interested in shaping the future ownership of their farm or ranch, whether that’s transferring the business to the next generation or determining how to divide the farm or ranch assets.

“Succession planning is a critical need for North Dakota producers,” says NDSU Extension family economics specialist Lori Scharmer, who led the effort to develop the program. “The average value of total assets for North Dakota farms and ranches has increased 136 percent in the past 10 years. The average value of total farm assets in North Dakota for 2014 was just over $1.6 million.

“This unprecedented increase in value adds to the complexity of succession planning for families,” she notes. “Not having a succession plan for the family farm or ranch business may have real impacts on not only the business but also the families involved.”

Visit https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/succession for more information about Designing Your Succession Plan.