Series of reports helps families hand down the farm
» June 5, 2006 «
It's a $26 trillion question: How much disruption and heartache can be avoided as America starts the largest transfer of wealth in world history? For California farmers and ranchers, estate and succession planning will be key in assuring the survival of the state's world-class agricultural resources.
With the possible return of the federal estate tax and the changing future of farming in California, individual decisions on thousands of farms and ranches will affect the state's agricultural landscape for generations to come.
To help its readers plan to keep family farms and ranches in the family, the California Farm Bureau Federation newspaper Ag Alert® has launched an in-depth, four-part series: Handing Down the Family Farm.
Reporter Kate Campbell writes that handing down the farm requires "a vision for the future of the family farming operation and solid planning."
That planning takes two forms, according to Rod Carter, vice president of business consulting services for Northern California Farm Credit.
"Estate planning is about developing strategies to reduce estate-tax liability," Carter said. "Succession planning ensures the business is carried on after the owner dies."
Analysts estimate that some $26 trillion worth of assets are in the process of changing hands in the United States-and that many Americans have not yet taken the steps to assure that their estates pass to their heirs as they desire.
A certified financial planner based in Chico, Kevin Spafford, said only about one third of the farmers he surveyed had created some sort of estate plan. Spafford has written a book about succession planning for farm and ranch owners, and cites "complex and shifting estate-tax laws" as a key obstacle to handing down the farm.
The Ag Alert series profiles family farmers and ranchers who have taken varying approaches to estate and succession planning, and offers practical advice on how to hand down the farm.
Ag Alert, the most-read agricultural publication in California, is published each week by the California Farm Bureau Federation. Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization, works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 88,000 members.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.Top