Article Contributed by
Cornell Cooperative Extension
The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is a regional extension program that provides research based information to local grape growers. LERGP strives to help grape growers with any challenge they face. We provide succession planning services to regional growers. By introducing growers to these tools we hope to increase the likelihood of generational transfers. As family farms evolve into small and medium sized businesses we also provide information on tools to transfer vineyard businesses outside of the family.
Kevin Martin, business management educator, describes the process, “The first step is to look at the business plan. The financials really define whether or not succession planning goals are realistic. Business organizations can also be important tools to help easily transfer ownership.” LERGP facilitates discussions between generations. LERGP also provides templates and guidelines for financials and organizational structures designed to succeed during transitions and meet the goals of both generations.
While the legal and financial community has created a number of helpful and sometimes virtually free products to ease the challenges of businesses in transition, LERGP also provides assistance when exiting the industry. LERGP tracks and estimates values of assets and capital. “We have a number of growers looking to retire or exit the industry. Current markets and prices are accelerating vineyard sales. Unfortunately exiting at the moment is not as financially rewarding as it would normally be. At extension we will continue to work hard to at least provide growers with the best information available so their difficult decisions are informed decisions.”
LERGP, in conjunction with industry partners, will be providing more information at their annual growers’ conference. For more information, visit lergp.cce.cornell.edu.
The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is a cooperative effort between Cornell and Penn State Universities; the participating Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus Counties in New York and Erie County in Pennsylvania; and participating industry partners National Grape Cooperative (Welch’s), Constellation Brands and Walkers Fruit Basket. The LERGP extension team provides research-based educational programming for commercial grape growers throughout the year at venues across the Lake Erie grape belt. For more information on LERGP, call 716-792-2800 or visit our website at http://lergp.cce.cornell.edu/.