NDSU Helps Farmers Create Succession Plan
There are two million farms in America, according to the USDA
FARGO, N.D. — It wasn’t until after his father and grandfather passed in 2012 that Jon Bertsch decided to take over the family farm in Hillsboro.
With it came the many challenges farmers face daily.
“A lot of things are out of our control, mother nature, the trade war, different things in regards to the ethanol industry. It’s harder to make that transition than it was probably 20–30 years ago,” Bertsch said.
NDSU brought in farm succession specialist Joy Kirkpatrick to help make the transition easier for farmers, many of whom she says never grew up on a farm.
“We do have a lot of millennials who want to farm. They may not have that family connection to have access to land. So I think if you could match up people with farms, that might be something you’d find but that’s so hard because there’s definitely a family pull to keep that land in the family,” Kirkpatrick said.
She says as baby boomers get older, it’s also millennials like Bertsch who will be the future of the agriculture industry.
Kirkpatrick says many farms have transitioned ownership over to millennials since 2011 and will continue to do so for the next 10–12 years.
But that’ll also mean figuring out how to balance assets for the generation on the way in as well as the one on the way out.
“There’s this fine balance of having those business assets intact for that next generation because they need to have those in place but so many of the owner generation are fairly heavily dependent on those assets for retirement assets,” Kirkpatrick said.
2017 Census data from the USDA shows the average age of farmers living in both North Dakota and Minnesota is between 50–60 years old. According to the USDA, there are about two million farms in the United States.