October 7, 2010

If statistics are any indication, farming is not a field that is attracting the young. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2005-2007 Agricultural Resource Management Survey, the average age for farmers in the five-state Appalachian Region, which includes Kentucky, is 57 years old. It is expected that over the next decade half of them will retire. And who will replace them?

"On average, 30 percent of family farms successfully pass to the second generation, and only 10 percent pass to a third generation," said Lee Meyer, agricultural economist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

The Farm Transitions Workshop, sponsored by UK Cooperative Extension Service, is designed to help farm families make those generational transfers more successful.

"Very frequently, people go into this totally unprepared," he said. "They don't know the real profitability of their business. They have not taken the appropriate legal and accounting steps. And often there's no real family communication, so the older generation is still making all the decisions and hasn't transferred decision-making power to the next generation."

The one-day workshop will be held at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Nov. 11 and at the Fine Arts Center at Henderson Community College in Henderson Nov. 12. Both sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CST.

Speakers will include David Kohl, professor emeritus in agricultural finance and small business management at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Steve Isaacs, UK extension professor in agricultural economics; David Marrison, Ohio State University extension educator and assistant professor in transitions and business planning; and a local attorney with expertise in farm estate planning.

Meyer said the purpose behind the workshop was to build awareness. Participants will not take away a complete farm transfer plan but rather the tools to begin to formulate such a plan. 

Workshop cost is $50 per farm, which includes up to three people. The fee for each additional person is $10. To register for the Nov. 11 Bowling Green workshop, contact Joanna Coles, Warren County agricultural and natural resources extension agent, at 270-842-1681 or joanna.coles@uky.edu. Those who are interested in the Henderson County location should contact Henderson County agricultural and natural resources extension agent Mike Smith at 270-826-8387 or mcsmith@uky.edu.  For additional information about the workshop in general, call or e-mail Sarah Lovett, UK agricultural economics extension associate, at 859-257-7272, ext. 281 or sarah.lovett@uky.edu.

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