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Family Farms: An Uncertain Future

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By Aimee Burnett

Buhl, Idaho (KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV) Agriculture is booming in southern Idaho, but despite that small family farms are facing some real challenges.

One of the bigger issues farmers are struggling with these days involves estate planning.

How do they plan for retirement and who do they leave their legacy to?

"We have 1,100 cows and we have over 900 heifers and calves that we do," said Edie Nunes, Mid-Valley Dairy.

For Edie Nunes, farming is her life.

"We get to work around seven and don't stop until six that night, so it's a long day," said Nunes.

It's a legacy that's been passed down through her husband's family for generations.

"He took over the family farm three years ago. Him and his brother," said Nunes.

Small family operations like the Mid–Valley Dairy have an uncertain future as a growing number from recent generations are deciding to pursue other avenues.

"Our oldest one's not too interested in the agricultural part. He really wants to do other pursuits. Our youngest one loves the dairy, loves the animals," said Nunes.

If neither of her two sons want to take over the family business, Nunes and her husband will have to decide what to do with their life's work.

"We figure that we'd farm, we'd dairy, as long as we could and either sell it to another young person who maybe never had a farm and help them along," said Nunes.

It's an issue that's taken center stage throughout the industry.

"There's three options for assets when you're gone and that's you can leave it to the government and that's the IRS. Or, you can give it to charity or you can pass it to heirs," said J. Todd Wadsworth, CPA, Cooper Norman.

But, these days finding an heir interested in farming can be a challenge.

So, many generational farmers are forced to make a tough decision.

"Most typically you'll see the farm sold to a neighboring farm or operation down the road that's looking to expand," said Wadsworth.

Leaving a lifetime of work in the hands of a stranger.

On January 15th Cooper Norman will be offering a seminar in Burley to help farmers with estate planning and a variety of other issues.



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