From Jordan, Havre, Lewistown and Kalispell people traveled to attend the 3rd Annual Montana’s Next Generation Conference in Shelby, January 29 and 30th.
The conference is geared to promote success in farms, ranches and other agriculture businesses. Though we can talk about loving the lifestyle, farms and ranches are still businesses and need to run at a profit to be sustainable. On Friday, Kevin Spafford presented to a crowd of a about 170 people wanting to learn more about succession planning, which is passing the business in this case farm or ranch, on to the next generation. The current managers of that operation need to have the business in a financial condition where it can be passed on.
There were questions about wills, corporations and LLC’s but one of the biggest questions is how does a family get past the fear of discussing succession planning and what exactly are people afraid of?
Kevin Spafford states, “The biggest fear should be what will happen if you do nothing. Those who do not plan are the farms and ranches that do not stay in the family. There may be fear of discussing transition but the bigger fear should be losing the 3rd, 4th, 5th generation operation simply because you didn’t have the conversation and make a plan. What is the worst that can happen? Is it worse than the family losing the farm?”
February 13 there is a follow-up Succession Workshop for families wanting to move forward in transition planning. Nine families signed up to meet with succession planners and start formal discussions of transitioning their farming and ranching operations.
Maggie Nutter, who is on the core planning team for the conference states, “ In the past during and after the conference people would frequently ask who they could go to lead their family through succession planning. Kevin Spafford has a team of trained succession planners and that would be one good option but also we asked around and found in state succession planners who agreed to meet with families who had attended Kevin Spafford’s workshops. We are really excited to see families not just learning about planning but taking their first step forward in organizing actual family meetings.”
Saturday, January 30 the Shelby High School filled with people excited to attend some of the 36 breakout sessions offered that day. The topics cover from tax depreciation to crop insurance, what is in a good lease, how to choose the bull for your cow herd and more. One important aspect of Saturday is full day attendance meets the requirements for production and financial management training for FSA loan recipients. Lacy Roberts, Glacier County FSA Farm Loan Manager, presented a beginning and advanced Financial Recordkeeping workshop, which are skills producers need to be successful in their businesses. Roberts is recognized statewide for her excellent presentations.
The Montana’s Next Generation Conference is a collaboration between Glacier County FSA, Glacier and Pondera Extention, Marias River Livestock Association and Front Range Farm Bureau.