CONTACT: Rep. Considine
Dave Considine represents the 81st District in the State Assembly. The 81st District includes Baraboo, Sauk City, Prairie du Sac, Portage, and many other communities. His office can be reached at (608) 266-7746 or via email at [email protected]
Summer in Wisconsin means nice weather, no more school, grilling out, and maybe even a vacation. For me and many other families, it also means working on the farm. There’s plenty to be done: feeding and caring for animals, mowing, monitoring crops, and more. It’s a great deal of work and it truly never stops, but if you feel called to farming, it’s worth it. But as I get older, I may not be able to do this work anymore. It will be time to pass my farm on to the next generation.
I have five wonderful grown children. My wife and I recently sat down with them to plan the future of our farm together. It was a great discussion, and we did it with plenty of time before we’re ready to retire – but I realized afterward that it happened too late. Ideally, we should have started planning for our farm’s future decades ago!
Talk to any farmer in Wisconsin and they’ll tell you how difficult this planning process can be. You need to figure out what you want your farm to do further down the road. You need to find out what kinds of modernization and updates you’ll need to make. You have to decide which of your children will take over the farm, when, and how to compensate or consider other children who are uninterested in the farming occupation. If that’s not enough, factor in family relationships, personal issues, and remember that you’ll be talking about money with your family… It’s easy to see why we don’t like to deal with farm succession planning. Not to mention that if you live on a farm, you are always walking by new jobs that need to be done.
That’s why I’m working on legislation to make this process easier. It will take some time and it is by no means simple. But having dealt with this myself, and knowing so many farmers in my area that have to worry about it too, I believe we can do better as a state to help our local farmers plan for the future. I am working with DATCP and UW-Extension to try and find a way to help through legislation, and I welcome any ideas and input. But part of this effort involves reaching out to our friends and neighbors, which is why I am writing today. I wanted to pass on some valuable resources I’ve found.
The Farm Center, housed within DATCP, employs staff that can act as a free, confidential resource as you begin your farm succession plan. They can also help connect you with attorneys once you’re ready to start putting things into writing.
UW-Extension is also available to help through your county office:
You may be decades away from passing down your farm, but maybe you know someone who is thinking about it right now. Maybe you already have this information, but you know someone who doesn’t know anything about farm succession. Either way, I hope it helps. Don’t leave farm succession planning to the last possible time. It may not be much fun, but these resources and possible legislative changes can help make it easier.