Delaware State Program Project: Estate Planning and Farm Succession

Final report for NEDE15-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2015: $14,790.00
Funds awarded in 2016: $14,609.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2017
Grant Recipient: University of Delaware
Region: Northeast
State: Delaware
State Coordinator:
Dan Severson
University of Delaware
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Project Information

Summary:

Farm succession planning is a business and risk management practice that is critical to the agricultural industry and specifically to the health of families and farm businesses.  Business succession is multi-faceted, requires a gradual shift and periodic review. Communication is key to the process, yet succession planning is a difficult and complex topic to discuss among family members – for a variety of reasons. To begin a conversation about succession planning, one must be informed about the elements involved, and the critical role of each of those elements – why, how, and when.

Over the course of two years, this project provided education to 34 Delaware farmers (and their families) who are considering transferring farm ownership through 5 workshops, a webinar featuring David Specht, The Farm Whisperer, and individual consultations. Many of these farmers farm with parents or other family members, or may have purchased their own farm land, or may work for an established farm business that has no “next generation” – all situations that present opportunities for farmers to begin or to continue the process of succession planning. Seven Ag professionals from Extension, industry and agricultural agencies in Delaware and Maryland also participated as co-learners, sharing their expertise and building knowledge and skills in the content areas outside of their areas of expertise to become better able to educate and advise their farmer clients. In responses to post-workshop surveys, 2 Ag  professionals and 11 farmers verified that they gained knowledge and understanding about the issues related to estate planning and farm transition such as developing a mission statement, researching insurance policies, developing land leases and how to start the communication process with farm families. 

In addition to the educational events, the project team developed a Farm Succession Steps and Check List, which participants received at the workshops, and a University of Delaware web site dedicated to Farm Succession Planning. The web site includes Power Point presentations and videotaped portions from the workshops as well as the recorded Farm Whisperer webinar for use in future training and educational materials. Finally, the project recruited a farm family willing to serve as a farm transition case study for a videotaped educational resource.

The farmer and Ag professional participants were surveyed and/or interviewed at the end of the project about how they had been able to use the new information learned. Nine farmer participants indicated they had taken actions towards farm succession planning. All 9 farmers indicated they have opened lines of communication with family members by holding family meetings and evaluating financial and retirement plans, 4 developed a mission statement for their farm and 2 began work with their insurance agent to ensure their policy is adequate for their farm and family.  

Two Ag professionals verified they reached 396 farmers with programming related to farm succession via workshops, webinars or talks, individual consultations and by sharing fact sheets and other resources from this project. Examples of these efforts are a workshop conducted by Nationwide Insurance about insurance needs and considerations when developing an estate plan, and two Ag professionals collaborating to present a Maryland Estate Planning/Farm Transition workshop.

Performance Target:

Twenty farmer participants took one or more actions recommended by the project such as developing a business plan, mission statement or family communication plan; and engaging in succession planning conversations with other generations and planning professionals. Five agricultural service providers who learned through this project provided education and/or advice to 20 additional farmers about the information and strategies learned. 

Participants learned how to open up the lines of communication and how important communication is in the role of succession planning, develop a mission statement for a farm, discuss how land leases are related to farm transition and how to research insurance coverage and policies for the farm and family.

Introduction:

On November 5th, 2015 the state coordinator and members of the project team presented a needs assessment workshop at the Kent County Extension office.   A total of fifteen producers and family members participated.  The agenda of the program was geared to communication, goal setting and the fundamentals of succession planning.  Pre and post survey were conducted to identify needs and interest for future training about estate planning and establish the project’s curriculum in estate planning and farm transition.  All participants exhibited an increase in knowledge on the materials presented after the workshop.  Most participants (11 of 15) indicated they lack regular family meetings, do not have a business plan and lack basic communication in regards to estate planning and farm transition.  The majority of the attendees did not have a transition plan nor was the next generation involved in developing the plan. In addition to estate planning and farm transition, other topics that the participants expressed interest in learning about are insurance coverage and policies for farm and family, developing mission statement and health insurance.

This project aimed to address these expressed learning needs through workshops, webinars and information resources about farm succession planning for agricultural service providers and farmers. 

Advisors/Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

The project facilitated a series of learning experiences for farmers and the Extension co-learners throughout the two years. The project’s curriculum and approach were outlined based on farmer feedback from the needs assessment workshop.

Project events included workshops at Delaware Ag Week in 2016 and 2017, the first focusing on goal setting, communication and defining the fundamentals of succession planning; the second on developing a  mission statement for the farm business, discussing land leases and ways to transition, and insurance coverage and policies for farm and family. The 2017 Ag Week workshop incorporated sustainable business planning concepts and utilized “Building a Sustainable Business” developed by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. In addition, financial and retirement planning (using the University of Minnesota’s Ag Transitions) were also conducted.  Financial and retirement planning are not stand-alone topics. These sessions emphasized how this type of planning is critical toward maintaining the economic viability of the farm.

The 2016 Ag Week workshop was followed by additional workshops throughout 2016 at smaller venues. Workshop topics included business and succession planning (using University of Minnesota’s AgPlan), where participants learned how a business plan can serve as a platform to begin a conversation with another generation about farm succession. Realizing that there are many stages of succession planning and that the process takes time, and in some cases many years, beginner and intermediate sessions were offered on business planning and succession planning.

A 2017 webinar and follow-up in-person workshop on the topic of family communication and its role in succession planning were also offered. An accompanying book entitled The Farm Whisperer was provided to participants to use a reference when applying these risk management skills to their farm/case.

Finally, the project recruited a farm family willing to serve as a farm transition case study for a videotaped educational resource. In additional to the videotaped case study, the project also posted Power Point presentations and videotaped portions of workshops for use in future training and educational materials. The videotapes and other project learning resources were made publicly available on the University of Delaware Extension website

Milestones

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

Year 1 Milestone Accomplishments

Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2016
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

 

Milestones for Participation and Learning

 

Date Measured

What project team does

1

35 farmers and 5 service providers participate in workshop at Delaware Ag Week and learn about the importance of goal setting, communication and the fundamentals of succession planning.

January 13,

2016

Delivers workshop at Delaware Ag Week

 

Complete

Ten farm families and three service providers attended the Ag Week workshop.  Steve Hamilton from Nationwide presented Land as your Legacy which is a transition planning program for farmers and ranchers designed for Nationwide.  Four out of the ten families reached out to Nationwide Insurance to begin the process of estate planning.  Ashley Newhall and Paul Goeringer, lawyers from University of Maryland discussed the fundamentals of Succession planning along with the importance of goal setting. Two service providers are looking into developing a similar workshop for their producers.

2

25 farmers and 5 service providers participate in first follow-up workshop and learn about creating business plans and using them as a platform for conversations about farm succession. Portions of the workshop videotaped for future use.

March 2016

Delivers   business planning workshops

Complete

Laurie Wolinski presented the workshop using University of Minnesota’s AgTransitions as a guide.  Attendance was poor due to not receiving funds in sufficient time for advertising as well as the event was scheduled during another farm meeting.  The farmer that was present was interested in creating a business plan to open up communication prior to starting an estate transition plan.  We have been more proactive in setting a date and ramping up our advertising now that we have funding and an administrative account for the project.

3

25 farmers and 5 service providers participate in second follow-up workshop and learn about financial and retirement planning and the critical role these plans can play in maintaining the farm’s economic viability. Portions of the workshop videotaped for future use.

April 2016

Delivers Financial/retirement workshop

Complete

Maria Pippidis presented a workshop on How to Create a Retirement Paycheck. Participants learned why they need to plan for retirement, calculating retirement needs, withdrawal rates, along with different vehicles to save for retirement such as 401K, IRA and Social Security.  There were 13 people in attendance representing 5 different farm families. 

4

Farmers and or service providers that have participated in the workshops will be contacted to find out if they have questions, need help with resources or connections. 

Summer 2016

 Contact workshop participants

Complete

20 Farmers have been contacted via email, phone and individual consultation to see if have questions or need help.  Two farmers have started the process with Nationwide Insurance to start the estate planning process.  Two Service providers were contacted via email and phone to find out if they have any questions or need help.  The service providers responded that they have no questions and are working on a Maryland Estate Planning/Farm Transition workshop together.

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

25 farmers and 5 service providers participate in webinar and follow-up face-to-face workshop and learn about family communications and its role in succession planning. The webinar is recorded and portions of the workshop videotaped for future use.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
25
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
5
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
16
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
2
Proposed Completion Date:
November 1, 2016
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
November 29, 2016
Accomplishments:

Complete: Dan Severson and Laurie Wolinski hosted a webinar featuring David Specht the Farm Whisperer where the topics of starting the conversation of farm transition early and having everyone involved in the process of transitioning were discussed.  Sixteen producers were present along with 2 Ag Services providers.  Eleven surveys were turned in indicating that the practice of bringing the family into the discussion during a family meeting of farm succession is an idea that they are going to implement.

 

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

1 farm family agrees to participate with project team as and be videotaped for a farm succession case study learning resource

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
1
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
3
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
1
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
3
Proposed Completion Date:
February 1, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
July 1, 2017
Accomplishments:

The Wicks family of New Castle County Delaware served as the case study for the video. The Wicks family described what it was like developing a farm transition with their parents and how it continues to evolve as the next generation is becoming a part of the farming operation.  The Wicks discussed why it is important to have a farm succession plan as well as the steps that they took to start the process. 

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

500 farmers and 100 ag service providers receive notice of the availability of the farm succession case study, videotaped workshop sessions, and other farm guides and tools to aid farmers in farm succession conversations and plans on the University of Delaware Extension website.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
500
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
100
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
500
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
100
Proposed Completion Date:
August 1, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
August 1, 2017
Accomplishments:

A post card was sent to the mailing lists of all Agricultural Agents in Delaware detailing the creation and link to the University of Delaware’s web site dedicated to Estate Planning and Farm Succession as well as highlighting the case study video. 

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

25 farmers and 2 ag service providers respond to verification questions about how they have been able to use what they learned on their farms or in work with farmers.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
2
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
25
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
11
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
2
Proposed Completion Date:
September 1, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
September 30, 2017
Accomplishments:

Service providers and Farmers were contacted via email, phone and individual consultation and verified that they increased knowledge in all areas in understanding issues related to estate planning and farm transition.  Two Ag service providers and 11 producers responded to the survey.

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

30 farmers and 5 service providers participate in a workshop at Delaware Ag Week and learn about developing a mission statement for the farm, discussing land leases and transitions, and insurance cover coverage and policies for farm and family. Portions of the workshop videotaped for future use.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
30
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
5
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
16
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
5
Proposed Completion Date:
January 4, 2016
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
January 1, 2017
Accomplishments:

Sixteen farm families and 5 service providers attended the Ag Week workshop.  Maria Pippidiss presented a series on Succession Planning Steps and Retirement Planning.  Laurie Wolinski presented a lecture on developing Mission Statements and Paul Goreinger, a lawyer from the University of Maryland, discussed land leases.  The main take away for the producers was to pay greater attention to detail in their retirement planning and to bring family into the discussion about farm succession earlier in the process.

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities and events conducted by the project team:

ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Consultations 2 2
Curricula, factsheets or educational tools 1 1
Webinars, talks and presentations 1 1
Workshop / field days 3 2 5

Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:

AudienceYear 1Year 2Year 3Total Individuals
Extension 5 2 0 5
Agency 1 1 0 1
Service providers (other or unspecified) 2 2 0 2
Farmers / ranchers 0 34 0 34

Participation Summary

7 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities

Learning Outcomes

2 Agricultural service providers reported changes in knowledge, skills and/or attitudes as a result of their participation.
11 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
2 Ag service providers intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned through this project in their educational activities and services for farmers
Key areas in which the service providers (and farmers if indicated above) reported a change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness::

Farmers and service providers were contacted via email, phone, end of the workshop surveys and individual consultation to validate accomplishments. Eleven farmers and 2 service providers responded to the surveys and reported changes in knowledge, skills and attitudes as a result of their participation. The service providers intend to use this knowledge, attitude, skills and or awareness learned through this project in their educational activities and services for farmers.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers

2 Total number of agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
396 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Total amount of production these farmers manage:
Not reported.
Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

In 2016 two service providers verified that they changed knowledge in all areas in understanding the issues related to estate planning and farm transition such as developing a business plan, creating a retirement paycheck and planning for transition.  In addition, service providers were able to refine efforts working with producers by targeting who should be selected as team members in the farm succession planning. A total of 194 farmers were reported to have been reached through their efforts.  As a result of working with the University of Delaware during Ag Week 2016, Nationwide and the University of Maryland have worked together to develop an Estate Planning/Farm Transition series for the state of Maryland. 

In 2017 two agricultural service providers were contacted via email, phone and individual consultation to validate accomplishments.  They verified that in total they reached 202 farmers with education and advice about farm succession through workshops, webinar/talk/presentations, fact sheets, and individual consultations in 2017.  University of Delaware set up a website http://extension.udel.edu/ag/agribusiness/farm-succession-and-estate-planning/ that highlights fact sheets, video and webinars on farm transition and estate planning.  Nationwide conducted workshops dealing with the insurance needs when setting up an estate plan as well as individual consultations.

Performance Target Outcomes - Farmers

Target #1

Target: number of farmers who will make a change/adopt of practice:
20
Target: the change or adoption the farmers will make:
Twenty farmer participants will take one or more actions recommended by the project such as developing a business plan, mission statement or family communication plan; and engaging in succession planning conversations with other generations and planning professionals.
Target: total size/scale of farmers these farmers manage:
Not specified
11 Farmers made a change/adopted a practice as a result of this project
Size/scale of farms affected by this project:
Not reported.
Performance target outcome for farmers narrative:

In 2016 20 Farmers were contacted via email, phone and individual consultation to see if have questions, need help or have taken any actions related to succession planning.  Two farmers started the process with Nationwide to start the estate planning process. 

In 2017 farmers were contacted via email, phone and individual consultation to validate accomplishments.  Of the 34 farmer participants contacted, 9 indicated that they have started to open the lines of communication with family members by holding a family meeting.  Four farmers have developed a mission statement for their farm. Two have worked with their insurance agent to make sure that the policy they currently have is adequate for their farm and family.

Additional Project Outcomes

1 New working collaboration
Additional Outcomes Narrative:

Due to the SARE grant and bringing together Nationwide Insurance and University of Maryland representatives, the two groups have created a working partnership.  They are creating a program specifically for Estate Planning and Farm Transition based off of our model.

SARE Outreach

Outreach about SARE:

Information about SARE grants and information resources was shared at the programs and events listed below.

Year 1 (2015-2016) SARE Outreach Activities

Event/Activity

Number of Contacts with:

Farmers

Ag. Professionals

Financial Retirement Workshop

13

2

Farm Succession Planning

16

5

Business Planning

1

2

Year 2 (2016-2017) SARE Outreach Activities 

Event/Activity

Number of Contacts with:

Farmers

Ag. Professionals

Farm Whisperer

18

2

Farm Succession Planning

16

5

     

 

Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:

Audience Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Service providers 9 5 0 14
Farmers 30 34 0 64
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.