Poll shows less than half of BEEF readers have a succession plan

According to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture, the average age of principal farm operators in the U.S. is 57 years old. What’s more, there are nearly eight times as many farmers over the age of 65 than there are farmers under 35 years of age.

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation (SRNF) reports that there is an estimated 400 million acres of U.S. farmland that will change hands in the next 20 years. The question is: Who will farm these acres? Will it be the next generation or will your operation be lost after the death of a loved one?

Fred Schmedt with SRNF says, “About 30% of family businesses make it to the second generation. Only about 15% survive to the third generation. About one in 20, or 5%, can claim that they are fourth-generation family businesses.”

The University of Idaho Extension reports, “About 60% of farmers and ranchers have a will, and only 36% and 18% have an estate plan or succession plan, respectively. These statistics are alarmingly low when considering the value of the assets at stake and even more so the difficulty of successfully moving the farm or ranch into the next generation.”

This week’s poll on beefmagazine.com asks, “Does your ranch have a succession plan?

Of this week’s poll question, BEEF editors explain: “The process involves two steps—estate planning and succession planning. Estate planning deals with the tax ramifications of passing the ranch on to others. Succession planning deals with continuing the ranch operations under other family leadership or by bringing in a non-family person to assume a leadership role in the operation.”

The voting is just getting started, but so far, 43% of voters have a succession plan in place. Another 33% say their operation doesn’t have a succession plan in place but plan on creating one. And the remaining 24% say they don’t need a succession plan.

Vote in the poll here and let me know in the comments section below which camp your ranch falls into.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

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