Creating a farm succession plan is an emotionally charged and complex task. But it’s essential in ensuring that a family’s farm gets passed successfully to its intended heirs.

The Iowa Farm Bureau’s Take Root program helps farm families get their plan in place.

“We provide a starting point for farm families,” says Amanda Van Steenwyk, farm business development manager at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. “What’s unique about a farm succession plan versus other business succession plans is that it’s a family farm. Not only are you dealing with the business aspect, but you’re also dealing with the family aspect.”

Take Root provides strategies and resources to help improve family communication, assist in navigating through the emotional obstacles and identify the business and estate planning tools that correspond with transferring the family farm to the next generation, Van Steenwyk says.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, more than 5,000 members have participated in Take Root workshops held throughout the state.

Workshops are a series of two, three-hour sessions designed to go more in-depth with farm families designing their succession plans.

Workshops planned

On Jan. 10 and Jan. 29, Take Root workshops will be held in Stanhope. Take Root workshops will be held in Spencer on Jan. 17 and Feb. 28. On Jan. 24 and Feb. 21, workshops will be held in Burlington. The workshops, which include a meal, are a member benefit for Iowa Farm Bureau members. Non-members are welcome to attend for $55 per family.

The first workshop introduces farm families to the process and looks at things like goal-setting, estate planning, family communication and business issues.

“The main goal is to get families talking,” Van Steenwyk says. “Succession planning is often something that gets pushed to the back burners, but we really want to provide families information and resources to be able to initiate, implement or better a plan — no matter where they’re at in their succession plan.”

The second day of the workshop focuses on building a farm succession team. During this session, farm families can interact with a panel of farm business advisors for issues including estate, tax and financial planning, leases and tenant qualities and beginning farmer opportunities.

Van Steenwyk encourages farm stakeholders and their families to be part of the Take Root workshops. “Who better to decide what happens to your farm than you? Get everything in writing, get it on paper, use the right advisors to get everything in place, because it’s your farm, it should be your plan,” she says.

For a complete agenda and details on how to register for the workshops, go to