Dairy Farm Families Invited to “Passing the Torch” Transition Planning Workshop on Nov. 20

The Interactive Workshop Will Feature Family Roundtable Discussions with Outside Advisors

It’s never too early or too late to start thinking about “passing the torch” and finding someone in line to transition ownership of your dairy business. Dairy farm families are invited to the “Passing the Torch” Interactive Transition Planning Workshop on November 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Hosted by Penn State Extension and the Center for Dairy Excellence, the day-long workshop will cover everything from communication and family dynamics to legal and accounting considerations. The event will include lunch. Registration is $25 for the first two family members and $5 for each additional family member.

“Maybe your kids are only in high school or college, and you’re not ready to pass the torch quite yet. It can take years to successfully transition your business, so having one-on-one conversations now can help down the road when you’re ready to begin the process. Maybe you don’t have a family member interested in taking over your dairy enterprise, maybe you’re just starting to think about retirement, or maybe you’re nearing retirement and haven’t thought about your succession plan at all. It’s not too late,” said Melissa Anderson, Programs and Operations Manager at the Center for Dairy Excellence. “No matter what stage or situation you’re in, this workshop will get everyone around the table for one-on-one coaching with facilitators, legal experts, accountants and more.”

During the workshop, attendees will learn about the overall transition process and key communication tips, the retirement planning process, the legal transition process, and the accounting transition process. Family members will also participate in one-on-one, interactive family roundtable discussions that are led by outside advisors to keep the process moving in a productive way. Attendees will walk away with a workbook and tangible next steps for taking action.

Learn more about the sessions and speakers:

  • “How Do We Talk About It?” with Dr. Charlie Gardner. Dr. Gardner grew up in southern New Jersey and worked on his uncle’s dairy farm. He attended the College of Agriculture at Cornell from 1967 –1969, then transferred to Veterinary College, and graduated from Veterinary School in 1973. He then joined the Ackermanville Veterinary Hospital, doing mainly dairy cattle practice. He stayed there until 1989, when he started Dairy Management Consultants, a practice specializing in dairy herd management. Dr. Gardner became board certified as a specialist in dairy practice in 1993, and received an MBA from Moravian College in May of 1999. He joined Agway in 1999, and was director of the Agway TSPF Heifer Program. In March of 2004 he joined Cargill Animal Nutrition, and worked with producers to improve animal and financial performance. He retired from Cargill in December of 2014, and has since worked part time as a farm consultant with the Center for Dairy Excellence.
  • “Understanding the Farm Transition Process” with Dr. Brian Reed. Brian Reed DVM, MBA has spent the last 36 years working with dairy farmers as a veterinarian. Since receiving his MBA degree in 2001, he has also been a dairy business consultant, assisting dairy families with strategic planning, profitability analysis and farm transition planning. Dr. Reed also currently utilizes Center for Dairy Excellence resources to assist farm families going through the farm transition process.
  • “Retirement Planning: What to Think About” with Samantha Gehrett and Paula Ledney. Samantha Gehrett is a Dairy Business Management Educator with Penn State Extension and is housed in Carlisle, PA. Her primary focus is to help dairy producers determine cost of production and develop farm business plans that help farms reach long-term goals and objectives. She brings experience in Accounting, Taxation, and Dairy Processing. This work is accomplished through on-farm visits, workshops and conferences and the development of tools and resources for producers and consultants.

    Paula Ledney serves as an Education Program Associate / Financial Analyst in the Business, Energy, and Community Vitality Unit.  Her focus is assisting food, agriculture, and natural resources-based businesses with financial planning; record keeping; financial statement and ratio analysis; budgeting; business and enterprise analysis; and financial literacy and decision making.  Program work in these areas results in measurable improvements made by stakeholders in efficiency, growth, competitiveness, innovation and job creation.  She holds Bachelors Degrees in both Finance and Environmental Resource Management, and a Certificate in Financial Planning, all from Penn State.
  • “Legal Considerations for the Farm Transition Process” with Jennifer Wetzel. Jennifer Wetzel is dedicated to serving the legal needs of Pennsylvania’s farm and agri-business community. For the past 15 years, she has worked with all types of agricultural businesses across the state, advising them on a broad spectrum of legal issues. She is recognized for her in-depth knowledge of business succession planning, real estate and asset preservation within the agricultural law context. She has given presentations on these topics for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pennsylvania Farm Link, and Pennsylvania Bankers Association. Jennifer was appointed by Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding, to the Advisory Board for the Agricultural Business Development Center. She is a licensed title insurance agent and is a Succession Coordinator for the International Farm Transition Network and the Center for Dairy Excellence. Previously, she served as the Vice-Chairman of the Agricultural Law Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
  • “Accounting for Everyone: The Accounting Transition Process” with Tracy Garofalo. Tracy Garofalo has been serving the needs of farmers and small businesses for almost 20 years in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Tracy discovered her attention to detail and her natural accounting skills when she had her first accounting class in high school. Tracy went on to receive her BSBA and MBA from Shippensburg University, both of which majoring in Accounting. She spent five years as Controller of a private company specializing in professional fundraising for churches and non-profit organizations. She joined MSC Business Services in July 2005, where she earned the “Eagle” award for being the highest scoring staff person showing excellence in both her work ethics and ability to service clients. Over the course of 18 years, she held various positions within the company including Senior Account Supervisor and Regional Manager. In 2013, she passed and became an Enrolled Agent, which is the highest credential the Internal Revenue Service offers. In May of 2022, Tracy left MSC Business Services and opened her own accounting practice, Top Notch Accounting, Inc. where she is the President of the company.

Registration is $25 for the first two family members and $5 for each additional family member. Entire dairy farm families are invited to the event. To register for the workshop, call 717-346-0849 or visit www.centerfordairyexcellence.org/passing-the-torch. Email Melissa at manderson@centerfordairyexcellence.org with questions about the event.