Legal issues, family dynamics are part of upcoming farm succession conferences


Five conferences are planned in Kansas communities in early 2015.

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Dennis Metz admits it. He was resistant to some of the changes his sons wanted to make on the family’s dairy and crop farm near Wellington, Kansas.

In the late 1990s, Metz was growing crops and milking cows two times a day and thought it was a tried and true way of running a dairy farm. His sons, Dan and Jay came home from college and wanted to try milking three times a day – and to grow cotton – not a crop typically associated with Kansas, especially then. Thinking about how much time and money had been spent on his sons’ education and about how he’d watched other family members struggle as one generation took over the business from another, Dennis relented. The family not only milked three times a day successfully for years until they left the dairy business, but also started growing cotton, which they still do today, along with other crops. Dan and Jay have taken over the day-to-day operations of the farm with their dad’s blessing and support.

The day sons or daughters announce they’d like to take over the family farm or ranch can be a proud one, but can also be fraught with communication challenges, legal pitfalls and differing expectations.

To help Kansas farmers and ranchers with the succession process, K-State Research and Extension and Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services are teaming up with other agencies to offer five “Planning for Farm & Ranch Succession” conferences around the state. The meetings are supported by a grant from the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Meeting dates and locations include:

  • Jan. 5 – Allen Community College – Iola;
  • Jan. 10 – Pratt Community College – Pratt;
  • Jan. 16 – Kansas Farm Bureau Plaza – Manhattan;
  • Jan. 17 – Flint Hills Technical College – Emporia; and
  • March 3 – K-State Agricultural Research Center – Hays.

The conferences are part of a larger effort to develop a comprehensive succession education and service program, said Forrest Buhler, attorney with Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services. A succession planning website is being developed which will include archived webinars, videos and other educational materials available to the public.

More information, including online registration, is available at or by calling 1-800-432-8222. The cost at each location is $60 per person for the first family member to register, and $40 per person for all other family members.

As for Dennis Metz and his wife, Marilyn, they’re enjoying activities with their grandchildren, including following one grandson’s budding bluegrass music career.

Story by: Mary Lou Peter


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