seal  Purdue News

December 12, 2003

Pass it on: Workshop addresses future farm ownership

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - There's more to passing the family farm on to a child or business partner than just handing over the barn keys. Discussing succession issues, deciding on a business structure and working through the legal requirements all must be addressed, said a Purdue University Extension expert.

Business models vary from farm to farm, said Alan Miller, a farm business management specialist in Purdue's Department of Agricultural Economics. Miller will speak about business models in a session during the 24th Annual Farming Together Workshop. The workshop takes place Jan. 30-31 in Stewart Center on Purdue's West Lafayette, Ind., campus.

Farming Together is intended to prepare farmers for grooming a son, daughter or associate to take over the farm. Those future farm operators also are encouraged to attend.

Miller's session on business models is titled, "Different Ways to Share Ownership and Management."

"There are some classic ways people go about bringing somebody into the family farm operation," said Miller, the workshop coordinator. "One of those is known as the spin-off method, where the individual that's coming into the operation spins off an activity of their own from the existing operation. Most of the time they use resources from the parents or somebody else to accomplish that, but they do have some separation from the operation.

"Other types of arrangements exist where farmers and their children or partners simply combine resources. Those structures are quite different in implications for developing the next generation of manager, transfers of property and whether or not they will use some kind of business entity, such as a corporation or a limited liability company. There is lot to consider. The key question to ask is, what are the different individuals who are going to be involved in the operation bringing to the table?"

Miller will lead another workshop session titled, "Developing a Management Succession Plan." He said it is becoming more common for farmers to set up business arrangements so that the farm remains viable after they retire. In many cases, those arrangements are with friends or neighbors, he said.

"We're seeing more multi-operator farms," Miller said. "One of the advantages of multi-operator farm businesses is that you have the opportunity to specialize, according to your particular talents as well as your interests.

"That can make a difference in how much you enjoy your farming career. There may be somebody in the operation particularly talented in working with machinery. Somebody else may be talented at things like marketing or keeping records."

The Farming Together Workshop runs from 9 a.m. to about 8 p.m. Jan. 30 and 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Jan. 31. Other speakers and their topics include:

• Janet Ayres, Purdue Extension leadership development specialist – "Effective Communication and Personal Relations."

• Cole Ehmke, research associate in Purdue's Center for Food and Agricultural Business – "Developing a Shared Vision for the Future of the Farm."

• Craig Dobbins, Purdue Extension farm management specialist – "Farming Together: Assessing Your Resources" and "Organizational Structure, Job Descriptions and Other Management Issues."

• Bob Taylor, Purdue agricultural economist – "Farming Together: Working With Family and Staying Friends."

In addition, Gerald Harrison, a Purdue agricultural economist and farm law specialist, will lead a question-and-answer session on legal issues.

Workshop registration is $55 per farm through Jan. 12. After that date, registration increases to $70 per farm. Enrollment is limited to about 50 people.

A Farming Together Workshop registration form and brochure is available on the workshop Web site, located at Additional information also is available by contacting Miller at (765) 494-4203, or Dobbins at (765) 494-9041,

Writer: Steve Leer, (765) 494-8415,

Source: Alan Miller, (765) 494-4203,

Related Web site:

Purdue University Department of Agricultural Economics:

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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