The question of what happens to the family farm is often riddled with many emotional opinions, so much so that families may not communicate effectively about their wishes or plans.

Many life events can change the dynamics of a family farm. Significant events  — whether marriage, children, divorce, illness, retirement or death — can require a plan or a change in the transition plan.

Planning in advance of a crisis or significant life event increases the chances that the family farm will successfully transition to someone who is ready to carry on the family business.

Having a plan can also lead to clear communication that reduces the likelihood of family conflict and stress. Yet, four out of five Florida farmers do not have written estate plans.

You can take steps to protect your family and your family farm by attending one of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension’s workshops on "Ag Saves: Preparing for your farm’s financial future."

This workshop will help you ensure that your wishes are honored when the time comes.

You and your partners are invited to learn how to:

•Discuss the future of the farm

•Assess your future financial needs

•Talk with local experts in financial planning, estate planning and taxes

Join us for this complimentary program on Feb 21. Lunch and materials will be provided. Program sponsors include the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, U.S. Trust, and Merrill Lynch.

The local presentation is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 21 at the UF IFAS Extension office, 3098 Aiport Road, Crestview.

Register at by the Feb. 14 deadline, or contact Jennifer Bearden at for more information.

The program will be presented simultaneously at two other satellite sites, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern, at 2729 W. Washington Highway, Monticello; and 2140 W. Jefferson St., Quincy.

Contact Julianne Shoup, 850-342-0187 or, about the Monticello presentation, or Laurie Osgood, 850-875-7255 or, about the Quincy presentation.

Jennifer Bearden is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.