Farm Transitions

Planning for Your Farm’s Future

Understand your succession options, and how to find and prepare for working with legal and financial professionals

A day will come when you will no longer be able to farm full-time. Or, perhaps, you’re one of those rare farmers who will want to retire! How will that impact your farm business? How will that impact your farm legacy?

Too often, these questions are avoided or put on hold because they don’t seem urgent, and frankly, they are a bit uncomfortable. But planning now is vitally important. Whether you’re 45 or 75, it is in your best interest (and that of your loved ones) to understand the ins and outs of legal, tax, and family implications of farm business transfers.

Renewing the Countryside and the Sustainable Farming Association have organized a series of workshops to help farmers and farm-land owners in creating a transition plan for their business and assets. The workshops discuss wills and trusts, life insurance, power of attorney, long-term health care, and more – all issues that are included in a farm succession plan.

At each workshop, a panel of farm succession professionals will discuss how to find and prepare for working with a legal and financial team of support specialists. We will facilitate a question-and-answer session to ensure that topics specific to your situation will be discussed. A resource packet will provide information on various transfer strategies, tax issues related to the transfer process, how to discuss methods for treatment of heirs, and how to develop a written transfer plan. General assistance will also be available following the workshop for those that are interested.

Our program is more than workshops, though. We’re here to help anyone taking part in any steps of the farm transition process – farmers looking to retire, folks who stand to inherit land, or anybody who is simply bewildered about where to start. Our experienced team of farmers and educators are here to coach you on how to get started with your farm transition.

And we don’t stop there. Our team will stick with you through the months-long process of farm succession planning, providing a constant resource for questions and advice. We’ll be here for you every step of the way.

Ready to get started?

Visit our new Farm Transitions web portal and start planning online today! Need more personalized help? Email the Farm Transitions staff at gro.o1438214609fnict1438214609r@ofn1438214609i1438214609 or call 612.910.7601.


Farm Transitions Radio Show

Brett Olson leads the Farm Transitions Radio Show, interviewing local farm transition experts on topics surrounding farm succession, wills and trusts, etc. Listen to the shows on your local Minnesota Farm Network affiliate or stream them at the Farm Transitions radio homepage.

Farm Transitions Print Newsletter

Click the links below to download each issue

Vol. 1, Issue 2 – Aug. 2013

Vol. I, Issue 1 – Jan. 2013

Farm Transitions Online Newsletter

Click here for an archive of our Farm Transitions e-newsletters and SFA Connect issues

Many Farm Families Take Part in Four-Day John Baker Workshop

Thanks to the generous support of USDA-Risk Management Agency, we were able to bring Attorney John Baker to Minnesota to conduct a multi-day workshop. Baker is an internationally known expert on farm succession planning. His 30 years of experience working with families on planning for the future has made him the “go-to” guy on farm transitions. Many families took advantage of this rare opportunity to get extensive assistance and hands-on help with developing your farm succession plan during the four-day workshop in March at the Villa Maria in Frontenac. Thanks to all who attended, and we hope your farm transition is coming together.

Remember, we are always here to help. Email gro.o1438214609fnict1438214609r@ofn1438214609i1438214609 or call 612.910.7601.

Meet the Farm Transitions team

Jan Joannides is most at home in the countryside, and after many years of city life is happy to now call southeastern Minnesota home. She has spent the last couple of years learning about the complexities and challenges that farmers face as they consider their later years. Jan has a master’s degree in natural resources from the University of Minnesota. She helped co-found the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management, directed the Community Assistantship Program in its early years, and served as an administrator at the University of Minnesota’s Children, Youth and Family Consortium. Jan has been the managing editor of eight books focusing on sustainable rural development, helped launch Green Routes, a sustainable travel initiative, and works to find innovative ways to build vibrant rural communities.

Brett Olson grew up in small rural communities throughout the Midwest. Summers were often spent at the wheel of a windrower on neighbors’ farms. Brett works for Renewing the Countryside who’s mission is to find active strategies for building sustainable rural economies and enhancing the quality of place for the people who live in them. Brett has presented on sustainable tourism, family farms and local food both locally and nationally. He has worked directly with farmers in designing business strategies and discovering direct markets for their products. As one of the founders of Renewing the Countryside, Brett has been involved in much of the development, planning and organizing since it’s inception. Brett and his family recently moved on to a former dairy farm in Zumbro Falls, Minnesota.

Mesko, John for staff pageJohn Mesko is the Executive Director of the Sustainable Farming Association, a Farmer-to-Farmer Network® organization designed to enhance and promote sustainable agriculture. In this role, John develops local food networks, helps beginning farmers succeed, and expands the capacity of farmer networks. He and his family also own and operate Lighthouse Farm, producing grass-fed beef and pastured pork.


Solberg, Kent for staff pageKent Solberg and his wife, Linda, have a diversified pasture-based livestock farm near Verndale, MN.  They raise dairy, pork, eggs and beef.  Kent serves as Livestock and Grazing Specialist, and Dairy Initiatives Coordinator through the Sustainable Farming Association. He is also faculty at SFA’s Sustainable Food Production program as a livestock, forage and farm skills instructor.



Walker, Jason for staff pageJason Walker is Communications & Membership Coordinator for the Sustainable Farming Association. After a decade in the newspaper business, Jason joined SFA in summer 2011 and handles communications, website and member management for the organization. He works with the Farm Transitions project in several aspects of communications and outreach. Jason lives with his family in Minneapolis where he likes to can, build things in his shop and attempt to play and sing classic country songs.

Farm Transitions is made possible through a grant from the USDA Risk Management Agency.