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Supply chain issues include short supply of ag-loving professionals

We are short of attorneys and accountants who know and love agriculture.

A man in a green shirt and cap and shorts looks through paperwork while sitting in the driver's seat of a pickup. The pickup is in a farm field.
There are a lack of ag-loving professionals to help farmers with their needs, Myron Friesen says.
Erin Ehnle Brown / Grand Vale Creative LLC

By now we all are too familiar with the words “supply chain issues.” In agriculture, we have seen a shortage of parts and equipment and you can always read about a shortage of help.

So what else are we short of? Well, I’m glad you asked. We are short of attorneys and accountants who know and love agriculture. Do not get salty with me if you are an attorney or accountant who knows and loves agriculture. In fact, “thank you,” because there are not many of you. My best non-scientific estimate is that well over 50%, and probably closer to 75% of all the people that come to me for planning want to know who they should work with for an attorney and accountant. Over 22 years ago when we started, our simple process was to work with whoever clients were currently working with for attorney and accountant.

That sounds good and it worked well for a long time. However over time, many of the local attorneys have retired, leaving a far smaller group of attorneys in rural areas. In addition, fewer attorneys seem to have a farm background. The result is that farm families often get frustrated because they don’t know who to trust to prepare their legal documents or who can help them with income tax planning. I should clarify that “farm background” does not just mean that someone’s grandpa used to farm, or they know the difference between a planter and a combine. I mean someone who understands the passion and the numbers in agriculture.

Let me give you an example. My mom was a nurse, I have had some surgeries, I have seen our children born, I have been in an ambulance, and I even I have some doctor friends. So, do I have a medical background? Are any of you ready to have me do your hip replacement surgery or heart surgery? I could probably do both. What? You don’t believe me?

In Agriculture, the numbers keep getting bigger and the complications become more complicated. Entities like C-Corps may need to be converted to an S-Corp or go through a divisive reorganization. That’s complicated. Sometimes the frustration is simple, like why didn’t they tell me I could depreciate fertility?

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So, is the solution for everyone in agriculture to go to a very small group of planning specialists? That idea has some value but let me caution that some are true specialists, and some are self-proclaimed. Don’t forget that a specialist may also be a capitalist and you may discover that when you get the bill. Again, before someone gets salty, I would say the same thing for people in the financial world, and come to think of it, I hear there are some real experts in some local coffee shops.

So, what are the list of common concerns about advisers? Lack of farm understanding, lack of problem-solving ideas, not offering all the options, lack of structure to create documents that implement the family’s intent, frustrations with timeliness, and frustrations with the cost, just to name a few.

How do I know these things? I hear about them all the time. In fact, clients often call me and want me to fix the problem. These concerns are real and likely to even get more challenging.

Here is a closing thought. If there are any high school FFA members or ag students in college still undecided about what major to choose, and you have a desire to be a difference-maker in agriculture, then go to law school or become a CPA. Focus on being a farm specialist in those areas. When you graduate, give me a call and I will help you fill your appointment book with some great people who will really appreciate you!

Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or friesen@farmestate.com.

Related Topics: MYRON FRIESENFARM FINANCES
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