Progress report for LNE21-417
Problem and Justification:
2017 NASS Ag Census reports 49,690 Pennsylvania farm owners 55 and over. A dramatic 50.8% increase from the 2012 Ag Census reporting 32,950 farmers age 55 and over, and 425,776 acres or 5.5% of farmland lost during the same time frame.
While the hub of this project is in Pennsylvania the problem does not end at the state’s borders. The problem is the same across the Northeast region as well as around the nation. The average age of farmers is 57.2 in the states surrounding Pennsylvania. Therefore, the project will partner with ag professionals who serve farmers in Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York to aid a larger region and broader group of farmers.
In 2019 when asked to list any topic that would assist them in their farm business 41 farmers polled responded with 83% (20) topics relating to farm succession education.
In PA Farm Link's survey of farmers following farm succession workshops in 2020, participants suggest recording the program and posting online for family members to view.
Solution and Approach:
A multifaceted farm succession program combining a blog platform with weekly farm succession blog posts, webinars, zoom meetings and in person workshops as well as connecting farmers to ag professionals for farm succession assistance will provide a program that encompasses all the important aspects of farmer support and provides a holistic approach to farm succession.
The weekly blog platform supplies farm succession information at weekly intervals similar to the weekly market reports farmers depend on.
Webinars and zoom meetings provide further farm succession education through professional presentations and farmers sharing both positive and challenging experiences.
Through their increased knowledge and farm succession becoming an everyday topic farmers will be ready to set aside the time necessary for in person farm succession workshops where they will gain greater understanding and connect with ag professionals to assist them in creating farm succession documents.
Farmers from outside of Pennsylvania joining virtually will be linked to ag professionals in their state and/or region. This will be done through qualified ag professionals from those states who are participating in the program.
The holistic approach addresses the need for farm succession to become an everyday topic. One farmers plan for as they plan next year’s crops. One they act upon through the development of succession documents, ensuring the sustainability of the farmer and the farm.
Resulting in 80 farmers draft farm transition/succession documents through succession knowledge gained and ag professional assistance providing succession security for 8000 acres of farmland. Annually the farms contribute approximately $2,400,000 to the rural economy of the Northeast.
80 farmers will draft farm transition/succession documents as a result of knowledge gained through succession education and Ag professional assistance providing succession security for 8000 acres of farmland. Annually the farms contribute approximately $2,400,000 to the rural economy of the Northeast.
The 2017 NASS Ag Census reported a dramatic increase in Pennsylvania farm owners 55 and over. In 2017 there were 49.690 farmers 55 and over and in 2012 the Ag Census showed 32,950 Pennsylvania farm owners 55 and over. A staggering increase of 50.8%. During the same period of time the Ag Census reported Pennsylvania lost 425,776 or 5.5% of its farmland.
Focus must be placed on succession planning in Pennsylvania, so the land successfully passes from one generation to another.
The project started with online options, combining a multifaceted approach utilizing a webinar, a blog platform, zoom meetings and in person workshops.
The webinar was well received with 117 participants. Many questions came in from participants with a common theme, a majority were legal questions. Those questions and others will be covered in future blog posts.
SARE project PR
The project started off as planned with staff planning meetings, advisory committee meeting and communication regarding the blog platform and its incorporation into the website. All went as planned except for the website and blog platform addition. Upon further review it was realized the PA Farm Link website required updates in order to allow the blog platform to run smoothly. While the website upgrade was not a part of the SARE project it had to be completed before the blog platform could go live. The website upgrade was completed by a very talented company, and they are handling the blog platform and subscription set up.
Meanwhile outreach was completed with guest bloggers requesting they submit their first-year blogs. The process went smoothly, with high quality succession blogs received.
The blog will soon be launched. Promotional materials for the blog have been created and distributed at trade shows and other outlets.
The farm succession webinar for year one was planned and carried out. PA Farm Link partnered with two state partners to ensure a broader audience. PA Farm Link obtained the presenters and finalized presentation farm succession related subject matter to be included in the webinar. Several planning zooms were held as well as a dry run to ensure the webinar went smoothly. Along with that news releases were developed and distributed via ag and community newspapers, enewsletters, social media and trade shows.
The webinar was held on January 31, 2022. Speaker, Brenda O'Brien, from NY FarmNet did an excellent job and was well received. The program had 117 registrants and 53 live participants. Two polls were taken during the webinar and a follow up survey was sent as follow up as well as links to existing farm succession resources.
Year one went well even though that was a website glitch outside of the grant project that delayed the succession blog launch. PA Farm Link is happy with the results and working on year two activities.
Three farm Succession podcasts were carried out to keep the topic pertinent and active with farmers. The podcasts were completed in cooperation with AgChoice and Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit. Topics included a financial specialist, farmer, and legal perspective with an attorney.
The blog was launched and it featured several quest writers including webinar speaker Brenda O'Brien on a variety of farm succession topics. The live blog continues to be promoted via trade shows the PA Farm Show and conferences where farmers are present. It has also been featured in follow up Facebook posts.
A hybrid farm succession workshop has been planned, hybrid was chose colleagues across the US reported farmers were requesting both in person and remote options for events. IT specialists will be a part of the program to ensure all goes smoothly for the hybrid model. The workshop will take place on Feb. 23rd.
Promotional materials including flyers have been distributed both electronically and hard copies shared. One ad was placed in the Lancaster Farming newspaper that was distributed at the PA Farm Show to ensure the highest readership. Facebook ads were also developed and ran on social media. Materials were also shared with the Indiana County Conservation District, Indiana County Farmland Preservation and Penn State Extension Service as well as Ag Connect.
The project team has also had individual conversations with farmers who are either considering the topic or working on farm succession plans. Farmers have been encouraged with next steps, provide Planning the Future of Your Farm workbook and appointments made to faciliate farm famiy meetings and/or referred to other ag professionals for assistance.
Farmers will hear about project activities and objectives via newsletters, press releases, social media posts, virtual or in-person trade shows and meetings.
Farm Succession workshop Press ReleaseTo date program information was distributed via PA Farm Link's newsletter, PA Department of Ag newsletter, partner organizations, social media, Keystone Farm Show, Pasa Conference and PA Farm Show. News releases were sent to Pennsylvania newspapers. Example outreach is included below.
Farm Farm Succession workshop Press ReleaseFarm Succession Workshop flyer Workshop flyer
Farmers subscribe to and read the farm succession blog, 2021 to 2024.
Voyage Media Works are in the final stages of developing the subscription platform and having the blog proceed to "live" status.
The blog site is public.
Farmers suggest future succession topics through online submission form.
Future succession topics were requested from webinar participants following the January 31, 2022 farm succession webinar. The final results will be utilized along with continued polling results of farmers to determine future blog and workshop succession related topics.
Topics to date:
Becoming an LLC
Estate Planning with farmland and buildings
Transition outside family (2)
Transition with several properties (2)
Financial statements and how to use them to improve.
Commodity specific examples (livestock)
Equal vs Fair (3)
Working with various generations & understanding them.
Ag preservation (4) and conservation
How to guides for beginning farmers.
Insurance for farms
Transition in challenging situations, farming member with personal challenges. (2)
List of ag professionals who specialize in farm transition.
Farmers referred to Ag professional for one on one succession/transition assistance.
To date three farmers have been referred to Ag Professionals for succession/transition assistance. The number does not include anticipated follow ups from the January 31, 2022 webinar.
Nineteen farmers have been referred to Ag Professionals as of Jan. 31, 2023 as well as several supplied with the Planning the Future of Your Farm workbook as well as other resources.
Farmers accept assistance from ag professionals and complete related farm succession documents
Reporting shows one is in the process of completing farm succession documents, others remain in the earlier stages of farm succession discussions.
Farmers are working on succession planning and we continue to encourage and build networks for them such as at the upcoming workshops, along with financial and legal experts there will also be ag professionals from SBDC and Penn State Extension available to assist them and start discussions with at the events.
Farmers participate in farm transition/succession 8 webinars and zoom meetings, 2021 through 2023.
2022 PA Farm Link Webinar - Succesion Planning Practices and Pitfalls Final117 registrants for the first webinar, with 53 live participants including 48 farmers and 5 ag professionals. It was recorded and will be made available to all the 117 registrants as well as others online.
98 farmers utilized the recording as well as 12 ag professionals.
Guiding Families Through Transition with John Black - https://www.buzzsprout.com/960592/10017744
Reflections on Farm Transitions with Marlin Hartzler - https://www.buzzsprout.com/960592/10103259
Legal Considerations in Farm Transitions with Jody Anderson Leighty - https://www.buzzsprout.com/960592/10119724
Farmers participate in farm 4 transition/succession in-person programs, 2022 through 2024.
Two in-person workshops taking place Feb. 23 & March 1, workshops also available online to meet everyone's needs and preferences. The final ones later in the year.
Milestone Activities and Participation Summary
Event was held on January 31, 2022 and the follow up survey will be sent in the next couple days to participants. Once it's completed and returned the outcomes will be updated.
Performance Target Outcomes
Farmers will draft farm transition/succession documents as a result of knowledge gained through succession education and Ag professional assistance.
8000 acres of farmland
The 80 farmers with 8000 acres of farmland annually invest approximately $2,400,000 in Northeast rural economies through their purchases from local businesses.