A Multifaceted Farm Succession Plan Development Program Via Virtual and in Person Learning and Assistance Opportunities

Progress report for LNE21-417

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2021: $148,980.00
Projected End Date: 02/29/2024
Grant Recipient: Pennsylvania Farm Link, Inc.
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Darlene Livingston
Pennsylvania Farm Link, Inc.
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Project Information

Summary:

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.

Performance Target:

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.

Introduction:

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.

Research

Involves research:
No
Participation Summary

Education

Educational approach:

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.

 

 

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Farmers will hear about project activities and objectives via newsletters, press releases, social media posts, virtual or in-person trade shows and meetings.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
2000
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
24
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
2357
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
99
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2022
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

To date program information was distributed via PA Farm Link's newsletter, PA Department of Ag newsletter, partner organizations, social media, Keystone Farm Show and PA Farm Show. News releases were sent to Pennsylvania newspapers. Example outreach is included below.

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Farmers subscribe to and read the farm succession blog, 2021 to 2024.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
200
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
4
Proposed Completion Date:
March 31, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Voyage Media Works are in the final stages of developing the subscription platform and having the blog proceed to "live" status.

Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Farmers suggest future succession topics through online submission form.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
150
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
4
Proposed Completion Date:
April 28, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

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.

Milestone #4 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Farmers referred to Ag professional for one on one succession/transition assistance.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
110
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed Completion Date:
January 31, 2024
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

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.

Milestone #5 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Farmers accept assistance from ag professionals and complete related farm succession documents

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
80
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
25
Proposed Completion Date:
February 28, 2024
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Reporting shows one is in the process of completing farm succession documents, others remain in the earlier stages of farm succession discussions.

Milestone #6 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Farmers participate in farm transition/succession 8 webinars and zoom meetings, 2021 through 2023.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
300
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
15
Proposed Completion Date:
December 29, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

117 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.

Milestone #7 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Farmers participate in farm 4 transition/succession in-person programs, 2022 through 2024.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
100
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
6
Proposed Completion Date:
January 31, 2024
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

In person workshops have not been held to date.

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities:

4 Consultations
1 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

96 Farmers
21 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities

Learning Outcomes

Key areas in which farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitude, skills and/or awareness:

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

Target #1

Target: number of farmers:
80
Target: change/adoption:

Farmers will draft farm transition/succession documents as a result of knowledge gained through succession education and Ag professional assistance.

Target: amount of production affected:

8000 acres of farmland

Target: quantified benefit(s):

The 80 farmers with 8000 acres of farmland annually invest approximately $2,400,000 in Northeast rural economies through their purchases from local businesses.

Information Products

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.