Pennsylvania family farm transfer workshop set

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MANHEIM, Pa. – Transferring a family farm to the next generation seems as natural as the change in seasons. But tax traps, family squabbles and lack of financing or business planning challenge many families attempting a transition – and outright threaten the continuation of some farms.

To help Pennsylvania farm families navigate these challenges, Pennsylvania Farm Link, Penn State Cooperative Extension, and USDA Risk Management will host a “Passing on the Farm” workshop Jan. 22 at Hugo’s Restaurant on Route 40 west of Brownsville, Pa. The workshop runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Discussion topics. Speakers will address bringing the next generation into the farm business, farm viability, farmland preservation programs, estate planning, legal aspects of transfers, retirement planning, financing for new farmers and crop insurance. In addition, farmers from the region will discuss their families’ efforts to transfer their businesses to the next generation.

“At no other point in the history of U.S. agriculture have we faced such a wide generation gap in farm participants,” stated the National Commission on Small Farms report “A Time to Act,” released in 1998.

According to the 1997 Census, three times as many farm operators are over age 65 as under 35. Just from the perspective of retirement age, one-third to one-half of farmers will retire in the next decade.

Lifetime decision. “How a farmer plans for his or her successor is one of the most important lifetime decisions that farmers will make. Because it requires frank and open discussions about retirement and death, many families either delay or avoid the planning process,” said Marion Bowlan, executive director of Pennsylvania Farm Link. “This strategy only narrows the choices and options available to both the retiring farmer and the beginning farmer and may result in unwanted tax consequences.”

The Passing on the Farm workshop is free. Lunch will be provided at the restaurant at a cost of $9.50 per person. Reservations are required by Jan. 15. Call Pennsylvania Farm Link at 717-664-7077 or e-mail pafarmlink@redrose.net for reservations or more information.

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