Helping Ranchers Plan How Best To Pass Land On To Next Generation

Jan 25, 2018

Pioneer Cunningham Ranch Historic Cabin Wyoming
Credit CC0 Public Domain

Organizations in the region are encouraging ranchers and farmers to think ahead about how to pass their land on to the next generation so the way of life doesn’t disappear. As property values outpace the potential revenue from agriculture, it’s harder for families to pass down their land or even sell it to another rancher. 

Over the last century, the number of farms across the country has decreased 63 percent. That’s partially due to how expensive it is to maintain a ranch, but it’s also because fewer young people are interested in taking up the career. That’s according to a report from the Society of Range Management.

John Heyneman, executive director of the Plank Stewardship Initiative, an agricultural non-profit based in Sheridan, said it’s important to maintain Wyoming’s open, productive land because it’s critical to the state’s access to healthy food, water, and wildlife. 

“In the immediate, we run the risk of habitat fractionalization, which is serious to a rural state like Wyoming that highly prizes its wildlife resources,” Heyneman said.

So, organizations like his are offering seminars and workshops about how to make it easier to pass down your land. Other groups are offering such opportunities as well, including the Western Landowners Alliance and UW’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and UW Extension. Heyneman said most ranches are simply incorporated but designating them as an LLC or LLP can help pass down land at a discounted value. It’s also recently become easier to gift land at a higher value without taxation.