Planning for Success: Resources for Farm and Business Transitions

America’s farmers and ranchers are aging. There are two main options for retiring farmers to pass on their life’s work:

The right choice for each landowner depends on:

  • retirement income
  • long-term care payments
  • interests of heirs
  • tax consequences

This information can aid planning for a successful retirement that provides income security and continued engagement with the the farm and a new farm family, if desired. Farmers and ranchers can transition out of production in a way that continues long-term conservation practices, shares their acquired knowledge of a lifetime, and maintains the farmstead as a landmark for farm and community.

Every farmer and rancher faces these inevitable decisions, yet an Iowa study found that two-thirds of farmers over age 65 had done little or no planning for retirement. 

Risk Management Workshop Series - Resources

Our documents are available to help farmers and ranchers use estate planning tools better. Lessons include:

  • basic on retirement planning
  • transferring and transitioning ownership of a farm or ranch
  • expert advice from experienced financial and legal counselors

These documents are provided as guides to introduce these topics. Many issues in estate planning require the specialized help of accountants or lawyers, to meet both your goals and the legal requirements. These guides DO NOT REPLACE expert advice from a professional. Instead, they are intended to help you figure out your needs, goals, and strategies so that you can consult professional legal and tax advisers with an informed and considered approach to your retirement planning, reducing the time and expense of working with them.

Reports available in the series (all links are to pdf files of varying lengths): 

Other helpful retirement documents can be found here.

This project was made possible through a grant from the North Central Risk Management Education Center to inform farmers and ranchers of their options for retiring or beginning in agriculture. These reports were prepared by the Center for Rural Affairs. Other partners in the project include the North Central Risk Management Education Center and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. 

Contact: Wyatt Fraas in the Center’s Hartington, Nebraska office, 402.254.6893 or

PDF icon Intro-to-Estate-Planning-2015.pdf64.03 KB