Farm Journal Legacy Project

Succession planning can be very difficult for family farmers because it works to identify and develop family members to fill key roles within the family farm. In short, it ensures that the successors are experienced and capable of taking over the business (family farm).

Families are faced with numerous changes. The old methods of farm business transfers are no longer appropriate. Agriculture today demands a new way of thinking and planning. Just as farmers have adapted to new technology and ideas in the way that they farm, they must also be open to new practical and creative ideas in the way that they plan for and transfer their farms.

“The need for succession education and tools cannot be overstated in its importance to individual farm families of this country and to the long-term viability of the U.S. agricultural system as a whole,” said Andy Webber, president and CEO of Farm Journal Media. “There is nothing more core to sustainability in agriculture than the ability to provide succession to the next generation.”

In May 2008, Farm Journal Media introduced the Farm Journal Legacy Project (The Legacy Project), a concerted, long-term effort to address the succession-planning needs of America's farm families. The Legacy Project, in collaboration with Legacy by Design, uses the strength of 13 media properties to provide succession planning information and services to the agricultural community. The Legacy Project is the single-largest education initiative of its kind in agriculture today.

The overall mission is to cultivate multigenerational success in the agricultural community. The project is to serve as a catalyst for families, helping them to begin the process of succession planning.

The Legacy Project includes an interactive Web site ( to help guide farm families through the process of preparing their farm for the future. Some of the features of the Web site include:
  • “Leave a Legacy” Blog
  • Q&A with Kevin Spafford, the author of Legacy By Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners
  • Events
  • Media coverage
  • Background information
  • Video testimonials
  • Case studies by farm families
Thanks to the multimillion-dollar contribution from Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Farm Journal Media is able to expand upon its original editorial commitment to raise awareness surrounding legacy planning.

“Through Farm Journal Media, we will help to highlight opportunities, provide structure and give growers resources to help them succeed in their succession planning,” said Frank Ross, Pioneer’s vice president and regional director, North America. “More than 80 percent of our customers who are active farmers today want to pass on their operations to the next generation. It is absolutely critical that our customers have good succession planning for American agriculture to succeed and prosper.”

To raise awareness about this significant campaign, coordinators of The Legacy Project have developed several program initiatives, including:
  • Hands-on training workshops with Farm Journal columnist and succession planning expert Kevin Spafford
  • Extensive editorial coverage in Farm Journal, Top Producer and Dairy Today magazines, broadcast coverage on the “AgDay” and “U.S. Farm Report” TV shows and online at, with case studies and comprehensive coverage
  • An annual special issue of Farm Journal magazine dedicated exclusively to the topic
  • Specific training and tools for farmers at
  • A monthly Legacy television show
  • A weekly eNewsletter
Farm Journal Media is strongly committed to this project and has offered its expertise, reach and trust in farm country to help farmers take decisive action and to secure the legacy of this generation.

There are also future plans for the project. In the next decade, The Legacy Project will generate full awareness and tirelessly provide inspiration, practical tools and sound advice to underpin the steps to establish and formalize effective succession plans.

Do you have your farm’s future planned? Do you know someone that could use assistance in planning for the future of his/her farm? Will this project help you and your family with succession planning?

Program supports development of U.S. producers

Earlier this month, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented a new support program to help America’s farmers hurt by the recent economic crisis. USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack introduced the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers Program, also known as the TAA for Farmers Program.

"As we work to help rural America recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers Program will create new opportunities for producers hurt by import competition," said Vilsack. "Eligible producers will receive much-needed technical assistance and cash benefits to help them adjust to the current economic environment."

Farmers receive financial assistance after meeting eligibility requirements and upon completion of stringent training and education courses that can last up to three years.

According to USDA, the TAA for Farmers Program helps producers of raw agricultural commodities and fishermen adjust to a changing economic environment associated with import competition by means of technical assistance and cash benefits.

It’s not another subsidy, said Kevin Klair, extension economist at the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota.

“Congress was very intentional when structuring this program. Important management and competition issues were considered to make it most effective,” said Klair.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) reauthorized and modified the TAA. The Act includes measures to modernize the nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief and protect those in greatest need, according to the Obama administration.


  • The commodity on which the farmer claims losses must qualify for the program as determined by the USDA (notifications issued in Federal Register notices).
  • Farmers must have experienced a greater than 15-percent decrease in the national average price, the quantity of production, value of production or cash receipts of the commodity compared to the average of the three preceding marketing years, and imports contributed importantly to this decline.
  • Applicants must complete a series of workshops/education sessions.
  • Farmers can apply until April 14.

The public had the opportunity to weigh-in about program procedures and eligibility criteria in August. Most public commentary centered on payment limitations with consideration to adjusted gross income and specialty crops, a well as consideration to the length of intensive training about how to use the program. There is an additional 30-day period for public comment commencing March 1.

Farmers may receive $4,000 in assistance after an initial series of free technical-training classes. Klair said farmers are eligible to receive an additional $8,000 after writing an approved long-term business-adjustment plan to aid them in their future operations.

“It teaches farmers how to be more-efficient U.S. producers,” said Klair, who said the program has received numerous inquiry calls.

Klair said the “downside” to the program is its strict qualification requirements.

“It would be great if everyone could qualify,” said Klair.

Farmers can appeal a denied application.

To learn more about the intricacies of the program, visit or

Should the federal government take more or less of a role in financially assisting farmers? How can farmers relay the significance of this program to media/the public if criticized?

Ag event delivers industry development

“Cruising to success” was the theme of the 2010 Commodity Classic – America’s most-celebrated annual agricultural event. Held March 4 – 6, in Anaheim, Calif., the Golden State welcomed thousands of farmers to appreciate and advance the commodity sector of the agriculture industry.

Agriculture commodities are in-demand goods that are produced without fixed quantities. The balance of demand/supply of a commodity’s market dictates its price. Corn, wheat and soybeans are the U.S.’s main commodity crops, but in recent years, sorghum has established a presence in the commodity market.

Nearly 4,300 attendees attended the 15th Classic this year, including 1,363 growers from all over the country and more than 130 media outlets. According to the show’s Web site, it has more than doubled in size since the first Commodity Classic was held in 1996.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, addressed the convention during its opening ceremony. He highlighted agriculture’s significance to America’s economic health and prosperity, citing that every billion dollars of ag trade generates 9,000 jobs. Vilsack stated that he also believes that the USDA should be spearheading efforts to help the public realize the importance of agriculture.

“If you were Olympic downhill skiers you would be getting a gold medal or if you were professional athletes you would be going in the Hall of Fame. If you were CEOs, you would be getting big bonuses, but you’re not.”

Vilsack said he believes that the value system of the country is rooted in rural communities, which are faring poorly economically. Providing opportunities and alliances for farmers is important to help people invest and understand and to safeguard industry success, he said.

Top agriculture companies and organizations showcased new products, technologies and services that promise to enhance commodity growth. Numerous education sessions and briefings about ag issues were held concerning a variety of topics:

  • Farming Your Online Community: Social Media & Beyond
  • Marketing Strategies Your Lender Will Love
  • What Capturing Carbon Means for Ag
  • Take Technology to a Higher Level on Your Farm – and Make It Pay
  • What's Next For Ag-Based Biofuels?

Event buzz surrounded discussions about potential in cellulosic ethanol, particularly regarding the use of forage sorghum as a feed stock, the extension of the biodiesel tax credit and the magnitude of trade/exports to the agricultural commodity community, among others.

For a glimpse into the event, visit AgWired’s photo album.

This year’s convention introduced and reiterated vital issues, products and technologies to the progression of the national agriculture sector. Industry members and consumers alike have much to look forward to as the months unfold.

Going green, it’s easier than it looks

Consumers and businesses now have an easier way to “go green." Thanks to the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, the BioPreferred program was created, which helps to increase the purchase and use of environmentally friendly, biobased products.

Biobased products are commercial or industrial products that are composed mainly of biological resources including agriculturally derived, renewable resources such as corn or soybeans.

Managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the BioPreferred program includes a preferred-procurement program for federal agencies and their contractors, as well as a voluntary labeling program for the broad-scale consumer marketing of biobased products.

This program designates biobased products that are required for purchase by federal agencies and their contractors. This allows companies to purchase biopreferred versions of the items that they already use. Soon, biobased products that meet the BioPreferred program requirements will be given a label to make it easily identifiable for businesses and consumers to select these items.

There is a software tool available to help federal procurement officers choose what products are both good for the environment and affordable, BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability). The BEES tool used by the USDA also helps biobased manufacturers learn about the impact that their products have on the environment and on their costs.

In an article by CM Magazine, Ron Buckhalt, program manager for BioPreferred discussed the labeling program. He stated that the labeling program would have green-eligible products stamped with an approved USDA label, much like the Energy Star system for electronics. The eligibility hasn’t been determined at this point. Buckhalt said that whatever the product’s bio-component level is it should be the industry standard.

“Companies don’t have the capability to go too high (regarding the product’s bio-component), but we could be looking at 30 percent,” he said.

Each month, BioPreferred features an item to promote. For March, the BioLink™ General Purpose Cleaner is highlighted for being “tough on grime, not the environment.” Working as effective as traditional cleaners, BioLink exchanges alcohol and petroleum-based solvents for non-toxic biobased materials.

There are numerous biobased products, from cleaning supplies to office supplies that consumers and businesses can use to better their environment. For the complete catalog, please visit:

Ohio recently became the first and only state to initiate this program.

Recently, Gov. Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 131, which establishes a bioproducts-preferred purchasing program. Modeled after the federal program, it will allow the state to use considerable purchasing power to support the growth of businesses that create bioproducts, as well as expand the market for other innovative products made from Ohio crops.

S.B. 131 will rely on the federal bioproducts list to determine what products should get preference in Ohio. Several Ohio companies are already developing plastics, paints, polymer foam and other innovative products from corn, soybeans and other renewable materials.

In a recent Marion Star article, Karen Gillmor, R-Tiffin, who sponsored S.B. 131, talked about how this bill would help stimulate investment and jobs, as well as enhance research opportunities at Ohio colleges and universities. This would help Ohio farmers and agriculture production in Ohio.

“Thanks to recent advances in research and technology, acres of soybeans, corn and other agriculture resources growing across Ohio have the tremendous potential to transform our state into a center for bioproducts development in this country, breathe much-needed life into our economy and create a market for good-paying jobs in our local communities,” said Gillmor, who is also a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

What are your thoughts about the BioPreferred program? Should more states be following in Ohio’s footsteps? How can the agriculture industry use this legislation to its advantage?