The Sandwich Generation: Farm/Ranch Transition When You Aren’t in Control

The Sandwich Generation: Farm/Ranch Transition When You Aren’t in Control

A rancher once told me, “No one has the right to automatically inherit a family ranch… but everyone has the right to know what is going on.”

Are you that person who is wondering what is going on?  Passing a farm or ranch on to the next generation is a tough job, especially if the next generation is unsure of what will happen when their parents pass.

Half-day workshops are planned for six locations Oct. 18-20 to look at this topic in more detail. Often farm and ranch transition and transfer falls to the generation caught in the middle — between parents who still own the land and children who might want to join the operation. The needs of this “sandwich generation” will be the focus of these workshops.

Lack of communication often hinders transitions of farm and ranch operations. Keith Niemann, trained facilitator and coach, will teach how to communicate with family to understand the transition and practice difficult questions. Participants will continue to receive support from Niemann following the workshops as they ask those tough questions to their families. A handbook and script will help ranchers complete transition “homework.”

Legal topics will focus on the needs of the “sandwich generation.” Anxiety and the “what ifs” can immobilize transition. Participants will gain an understanding of the consequences of the “what ifs” and how to avoid them. Examples include:

  • What if I don’t have a written lease?
  • What if I have to buy out my siblings?
  • What if mom and dad need long-term care?
  • What if I have to pay taxes?

Joe Hawbaker, estate planning attorney, will also cover tools to aid in a smooth transition and help provide for long-term viability of the farm or ranch operation.

Transition of the land is important, but owners should work to transition the business as well.  Dave Goeller, Nebraska Extension transition specialist, will cover succession versus equality, and compensation versus contribution. Many families struggle to split assets fairly between on-ranch and off-ranch heirs, while continuing the ranch as a business. Goeller will discuss the “family” side and what to consider when dividing assets.

Workshop Schedule & Locations

Pre-register one week prior to the event to provide for a meal count. Find agendas for morning and afternoon sessions here.

  • Oct. 18, North Platte: West Central Research and Extension Center, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. CT; contact Randy Saner at 308-532-2683 or
  • Oct. 18, Thedford: Amazing Grace Church, 3:30-8:30 p.m. CT; contact Bethany Johnston, 308-645-2267 or
  • Oct. 19, Valentine: Peppermill Restaurant, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. CT; contact Jay Jenkins at 402-376-1850 or
  • Oct. 19, Rushville: Methodist Hall, 3:30-8:30 p.m. MT; contact Jack Arterburn at 308-327-2312 or
  • Oct. 20, Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. MT; contact Jessica Groskopf at 308-632-1247 or
  • Oct. 20, Sidney: Cheyenne County 4-H Building, 3:30-8:30 p.m. MT; contact Aaron Berger at 308-235-3122 or

Cost is $30 per person. If more than two people are attending per operation, the cost is

Thanks to Farm Credit Services of America for their sponsorship. Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Award Number 2015-49200-24226.

Online Master of Science in Agronomy

With a focus on industry applications and research, the online program is designed with maximum flexibility for today's working professionals.

A field of corn.