Transition in farming

A class for women to learn about farm transition planning and more recently began in Hamilton County.

Annie’s Project, which is an educational program that aims to strengthen women’s roles in agriculture, hosted a session Tuesday night at Iowa Central Community College. About a dozen women were in attendance for the class which discusses a variety of topics from estate planning, farm succession, retirement, farm management, financial and legal risk and more.

Kelvin Leibold, Field Specialist in Farm and Agriculture and Business Management Specialist with the Iowa State University Hardin County Extension was in attendance. He contributed to the class material that Annie’s Project covers. Faculty and staff from several colleges were involved in the creation of the course’s curriculum.

“We really wanted to start off with a program that was going to focus on farm women and farm management of women involved in agriculture,” Leibold said.

The project began in Illinois, is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its national center is hosted on the Iowa State University campus. Leibold said the project is now in 32 states and has taught over 7,000 women nationwide. The classes provide women with a hands-on experience with information from local presenters.

The program was developed specifically with women in mind for several reasons. Leibold said that women tend to learn differently than men and respond to different leadership styles. He said they are also underrepresented in the agriculture industry.

“There’s a lot of situations where in Iowa, more so than in southern states, where women are not often perceived to be the primary farmer or not perceived to be a partner in the farm operation even though many women are involved in operating equipment or working with livestock, doing all the things you do in agriculture,” Leibold said. “So, we decided to custom-build a project for those people.”

Leibold said the class also includes information for women who own land that may not have any direct involvement in agriculture. That includes information about retirement planning. Trent Adams, Farm Bureau Financial Services agent, talked Tuesday night about just that. His presentation also covered estate planning and farm succession, which he said are important topics to discuss.

“Each person has a unique situation and we figure out what the best avenue and plan for them is,” Adams said.

Several other classes through Annie’s Project are planned for February and March. Other classes include small-scale productions, direct marketing, grain marking and agritourism. The Hamilton County ISU Extension website also lists a cattle management class for women which is expected to be held this fall.

“I think this project is great. I’m glad to see all these ladies participating and I hope that it’s something that will grow,” Adams said. “It’s definitely something that’s needed out here.”