Farm Transfer and Succession
Farm transfer refers to passing a farm business and/or farmland from one generation or owner to another. Other related terms that are often used interchangeably are “farm succession” and “farm transition.” 92% of farmland in New England is owned by people over the age of 45, and 70% of New England farmland is expected to change hands in the next two decades.
Farm succession implies the transfer of the farm business (as opposed to the farm real estate assets). The use of the term often suggests the transfer of the farm within the family. Two-thirds of retiring farmers in one national survey did not have an identified successor.
Farm transfer planning refers to the process of developing a plan to transfer a farm operation and its assets, including land. The plan includes several components such as a retirement and estate plan, land use plan, business plan, and management transfer plan. The foundation of a good plan is goal setting and communications. One study found that 75% of farmers do not have a farm transfer plan. The Gaining Insights study by American Farmland Trust and Land For Good found that nearly 30% of New England’s farmers are likely to exit farming in the next 10+ years, and 9 out of 10 of them are farming without a young farmer alongside. While this does not mean that these farmers don’t have plans to transfer their farms, it suggests that the future of many of these farms is uncertain.