Panhandle Perspectives - Sept. 27, 2016

Ranch transition when you aren’t in control

Bethany Johnston, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension, Central Sandhills Office

A rancher once told me, “No one has the right to automatically inherit a family ranch … but everyone has the right to know what is going on.”

Bethany Johnston

Are you that person who is wondering what is going on?  Passing the ranch on to the next generation is a tough job, especially if the next generation is unsure of what will happen when their parents pass.

Half-day workshops are planned at six locations from Oct. 18-20.  Often ranch transition and transfer falls to the generation caught in the middle – between parents who still own the land, and children who might want to join the operation. The needs of this “sandwich generation” will be the focus of the workshops.

Lack of communication often hinders transitions of ranching operations. Keith Niemann, trained facilitator and coach, will teach ranchers how to communicate with family to understand the transition and practice difficult questions. Ranchers will continue to receive support from Keith following the workshops, as the ranchers ask those tough questions. A handbook and script will help ranchers to complete transition “homework.”

Legal topics will center around the “sandwich generation” needs. Anxiety and the “what ifs” can immobilize transition. Ranchers will understand the consequences of the “what ifs” and how to avoid them. Some examples include: What if I don’t have a written lease; what if I have to buy out my siblings; what if mom and dad need long term care; what if I have to pay taxes?

Joe Hawbaker, estate planning attorney, will also cover tools for long term viability of the ranch.  There are a variety of tools that could help your transition go smoothly.

Transition of the land is important, but ranchers should work to transition the business as well.  Dave Goeller, Nebraska Extension transition specialist, will cover succession versus equality, and compensation versus contribution. Many families struggle to split assets fairly between on-ranch and off-ranch heirs, while continuing the ranch as a business. Goeller will discuss the “family” side and what to consider when dividing assets.

Below are workshop dates and locations. Pre-register one week prior for a meal count.

Oct. 18, North Platte: West Central Research and Extension Center, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. CT; contact Randy Saner at 308-532-2683 or randy.saner@unl.edu.

Oct. 18, Thedford: Amazing Grace Church, 3:30-8:30 p.m. CT; contact Bethany Johnston, 308-645-2267 or bjohnston3@unl.edu.

Oct. 19, Valentine: Peppermill Restaurant, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. CT; contact Jay Jenkins at 402-376-1850 or jjenkins2@unl.edu.

Oct. 19, Rushville: Methodist Hall, 3:30-8:30 p.m. MT; contact Jack Arterburn at 308-327-2312 or jack.arterburn@unl.edu.

Oct. 20, Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. MT; contact Jessica Groskopf at 308-632-1247 or jgroskopf2@unl.edu.

Oct. 20, Sidney: Cheyenne County 4-H Building, 3:30-8:30 p.m. MT; contact Aaron Berger at 308-235-3122 or aberger2@unl.edu.

Cost is $30 per person. If more than two people are attending per operation, the cost is $25/person.  Pre-register one week prior for a meal count to the local extension office. Meals are sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America.

Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Award Number 2015-49200-24226.