California FarmLink Launches The Regenerator: A Year of Farm Succession Planning Program; Liya Schwartzman, Kevin Ralph, and Jacob DeBoer Comment
UNITED STATES - Family-owned and operated farms play a major role in the United States agriculture, making up 96 percent of the nation’s 2.2 million farms, according to the USDA’s Census of Agriculture. As past generations approach retirement, succession plans are becoming vital, and California FarmLink recently launched The Regenerator: A Year of Farm Succession Planning to help.
“FarmLink actually started out in 1999 with a focus on supporting retiring farmers to find someone to lease or take over their operations, but the work we were doing had its limitations. Short workshops weren’t cutting it, and it’s hard to maintain a trajectory when you’re working with 20 families in different stages of planning,” Liya Schwartzman, FarmLink’s Senior Program Manager for Equity and Conservation on Working Lands, said.
Within the next 20 years, the USDA estimates that 70 percent of U.S. farmland will change hands, a release stated. If these operations are not adequately planned for succession, they will likely go out of business, consolidate into larger operations with neighboring farms, or be converted to non-farm uses.
The FarmLink program is designed to walk families through all of the issues that can arise to help ensure the succession goes smoothly. The next cohort of family farmers and ranchers will begin work in November.
FarmLink utilizes a team of professionals—including CPAs, estate-planning attorneys, appraisers, and transition specialists—to aid families in crafting plans that fully meet their unique needs. The program also provides $1,600 to each participating group to work with these providers, using funds provided by a USDA educational grant.
As part of its efforts to support nonprofits making a difference in California agriculture, AgWest Farm Credit, American AgCredit, CoBank, and Fresno Madera Farm Credit have sponsored FarmLink since 2018. These organizations are part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, one of the largest providers of credit to U.S. agriculture.
“This is a relationship-driven business, and Farm Credit prides itself on being trusted advisers to our customers—really understanding our clients’ business and educating them on their options,” Kevin Ralph, President of AgWest Farm Credit said. “FarmLink’s novel program builds on that and will really help farming and ranch families properly manage their succession issues.”
Regional Marketing Manager Jacob DeBoer with American AgCredit also commented.
“There are nearly six times more California farmers age 65+ than ones under 35,” DeBoer said. “This succession tsunami will provide opportunities to expand the diversity of California agriculture, which will help ensure a prosperous future for farming and ranching in the Golden State.”
To learn more about FarmLink, click here.
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