Understanding how those on our farms and ranches are being passed on through estates and what more do our rural landowners need to know about the process is the goal of a new Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service project funded by the Texas Corn Producers.

tractors such as this one are passed from one generation to another - an estate survey is determining what farmers and ranchers need to know
Equipment and land are passed from one generation to another and determining what farmers and ranchers need to know about the process is at the center of a new Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service estate survey. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Tiffany Lashmet, J.D., AgriLife Extension agricultural law specialist, and Justin Benavidez, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, both in Amarillo, are conducting a survey of farmers, ranchers, agribusiness owners and rural landowners about estate and succession planning.

“Estate and business succession planning is one of the most important things that any farmer, rancher or rural landowner can do,” Lashmet said. “Unfortunately, the statistics tell us many simply aren’t doing it.”

She said they’ve just launched the survey, which is available online or by mail. The survey link is https://tx.ag/EstateSurvey. The raw data–anything provided by individuals completing the survey–will not be shared. 

“We are excited to have grant funding from Texas Corn Producers to conduct this survey to help us understand who is and is not working on estate plans, what barriers exist, and what educational resources we can develop that would be helpful in this process,” Lashmet said. 

Texas Corn Producer Board Chairman Robert Gordon said Texas’ family farms are the foundation of the future of agriculture.

“Knowing how we can best support these small businesses as they pass to the next generation is important,” Gordon said. “Texas Corn Producers sees this need, and is proud to support AgriLife in this effort.”

Survey plans, outcomes

Benavidez said they will take the surveys from now until mid-March, and they are specifically interested in getting input from across the state.

“Once we collect all of the survey responses, we will analyze those and prepare a report that summarizes the results,” Lashmet said. “This report will look at trends we see from the data and will allow us to help identify the key issues for which additional educational information and training would be helpful.”

Lashmet conducts estate training across Texas and has developed steps individuals can take prior to hiring a lawyer for finalization of plans.

Kay Ledbetter is an associate editor/senior writer/media relations specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife. She is responsible for writing news releases and feature articles from science-based information generated by the agency across the state, as well as the associated media relations.
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