PENDLETON — In Oregon, 10.5 million acres, or 64%, of the state’s farm and range land is expected to change hands over the next 20 years as the average farmer and rancher reaches retirement age.
For farmers, ranchers and foresters who have questions about passing their land on to the next generation, and for beginning farmers and ranchers wondering how they can access affordable land, the Oregon nonprofit Rogue Farm Corps is convening a day-long event on Feb. 13 in Pendleton. “Changing Hands: A Workshop on Farm Succession Planning and Access to Land” will feature the critical tools and resources needed to keep Oregon’s working lands working.
Farmers and ranchers preparing for succession will learn from an attorney how they should prepare. They will also learn how to communicate with family members about farm and ranch transfer with Sherri Noxel of Enterprising Generations. “Getting the family united around a major transition of the farm business is important for longterm success,” she said.
While the subject of farm and ranch transfer can be a difficult subject within families, the subject is critical to discuss. Diana Tourney, of the Clackamas Small Business Development Center, said of the importance of starting a transition early: “Think of it as another crop you will grow — this one is your future.”
Given the climbing average age of farmers and ranchers, planning how to pass down or pass on family land is becoming more critical. “The tidal wave of farmland transition isn’t coming — we’re in the middle of it. But we also have the solutions at our fingertips,” said Nellie McAdams, a workshop presenter from the Oregon Agricultural Trust. “This event is designed to help people discover and take the next step toward transitioning or accessing land.”
The workshop also will have sessions for new and beginning farmers and ranchers and those looking to expand. Participants will learn about business planning, financing, leasing and ag real estate. “The goal of the Changing Hands workshop is to educate and to help build the connections among current, retiring and new operators that might become leases or other business opportunities,” said Nella Mae Parks, the event’s coordinator.
The workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Blue Mountain Community College campus. The registration fee is $20 ($10 for current ag students) and includes lunch. Registration and more information is available at www.roguefarmcorps.org/planning.