As Farmers Retire, They Face Hard Choices About Preserving Their Way Of Life
Via the Huffington Post:
Of all the challenges facing American agriculture — low commodity prices, President Donald Trump’s trade wars, climate change — the coming wave of farmer retirements gets relatively little media attention. But farmland must be passed down to a new generation for agricultural communities to survive. And the last time the U.S. Department of Agriculture checked, in 2012, nearly a third of U.S. farm and ranch operators were over age 65. Farm operators who don’t have children willing to take over often end up selling to developers or neighbors who may be near retirement themselves. When farmers do have a son or daughter ready to take the reins, poor financial planning, family infighting or lack of communication can still leave descendants no choice but to sell the farm. Between 1992 and 2012, almost 31 million acres of farm and ranch land have been taken out of production, according to American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. That’s an area the size of New York state. Transitioning a farm is more complicated than transitioning a typical business, said Todd Hagenbuch, a Colorado State University extension agent who mediates succession planning discussions among farm families through a nonprofit program.