Representatives from a number of agricultural organizations gathered in Denver on May 28thto learn of a new service being offered in Colorado – Farm and Ranch Succession Coordination. This meeting was convened by Guidestoneand Colorado State University’s Building Farmers in the West team to announce the team of Farm and Ranch Succession Coordinators that were recently certified through the International Farm Transition Network(IFTN), an organization that has been spearheading farm succession efforts since 1990. John Baker, founder and current president of IFTN, made a presentation about farm succession planning as a service to help retiring farmers and ranchers across Colorado design a transition plan to meet their family and financial goals.
Attendees at the meeting learned about Guidestone’s Colorado Land Link program and the role of farm succession planning in transitioning Colorado’s agricultural resources and heritage into the hands of next generation farmers and ranchers. The need for this service is stark in Colorado where the average age of principal farm and ranch operators across the state has risen to 58.3, as reported by the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture. This also amidst a population growth boom in Colorado that is three times the national average, which places intense development pressures on our agricultural resources and the families that manage them. Farm succession coordinators can be instrumental in facilitating farm and ranch families through the step-by-step process of creating a succession plan that will keep Colorado’s agricultural lands vibrant and in production.
The newly certified Colorado Farm Succession Coordinators will engage in continuing education programs with Colorado State University to ensure they can effectively help Colorado’s farm and ranch families through this process. Additionally a list of professionals, who have expertise in working with Colorado farmers and ranchers and developing the legal and financial instruments crucial to a succession plan, is being organized for referral.