DANVILLE, Ind. — One of the hardest tasks of owning family
farmland is succession planning and transitioning of ownership to the next
Ron Hanson, a professor of agribusiness at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln, has worked for more than 35 years counseling families on
issues related to their farming operation.
The goal of his work is to help individuals who farm and
work together, not just those who live in Nebraska, to be able to take their
family farming business and pass it on to the next generation, while still
staying a family.
He said that if his parents had gotten along with his
grandparents when he was a child, he wouldn’t be doing what he does
When he was 16 years old, things were said between his
parents and grandparents, Hanson said, that never should have been said. Because
of that rift, he said, he lost everything he loved most, from the farm to his
4-H and FFA career.
During his presentations and counseling with farmers, the
professor noted, sometimes what he talks about folks don’t really want to
discuss because it’s an issue they would rather put off until later.
The two biggest issues that contribute to farmers having
problems when planning out the inheritance for their estate revolve around
farmers wanting to keep everything private and that sometimes parents play
favorites among children.
“Farm folks are very private. They keep their cards right up
to their chest,” Hanson said, adding that this includes what they farm and what
their land is worth because they believe it is their business and their business
“Among children, there are certain favorites — some can’t do
anything wrong, and some can’t do anything right,” he said.
To help avoid tension when working on farm ownership it is
important to have a plan in place on how to keep the farm in the family for
generations to come, he said.