February 22, 2022
Westerhold Selected as Director of Farm and Ranch Transition Office
The Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University was awarded a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to establish the Office for Farm and Ranch Transition. As part of the more than $745,000 grant project and funding from K-State Research and Extension, the department hired Ashlee Westerhold as director for the center. Westerhold will start in late February.
“We are extremely excited to be launching much-needed services for farm transition out of the K-State Ag Economics Department and delighted to bring Ashlee Westerhold onboard as an enthusiastic and skilled professional to lead this initiative,” Robin Reid, K-State Extension Farm Economist, said.
The Office for Farm and Ranch Transition will provide critical services for beginning farmers/ranchers in Kansas.
“As the average age of farm operators in Kansas continues to increase, we know many farm families will be looking to transition their operations in the near future, either to the next generation or to unrelated younger producers. We are extremely excited for our department to be able to provide education and services specifically for transitioning farms and ranches and to assist beginning farmers and ranchers to be successful operators,” Reid said.
The project will have three main objectives:
1. Development of a land-link program to introduce exiting landowners with beginning farmers/ranchers through an application and curated matching process
2. Provide one-on-one technical services to facilitate transition of an existing farm/ranch operation
3. Develop an extensive training program for beginning farmers/ranchers to master critical financial and business skills.
“The overall goal of this project is to equip beginning farmers/ranchers to be successful farm managers and provide resources and technical services that will enable opportunities for land access,” Dr. Allen Featherstone, Agricultural Economics Department Head, said. “The land-link program will bring farm families together through the matching process; they will receive one-on-one technical assistance in developing their transition plans, and general education conferences on farm transition will increase farm financial knowledge and business skills.”
Partnering agencies for the office include Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas Bankers Association, Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas Farm Service Agency, Kansas Natural Resource Conservation Service and Kansas Grazing Land Coalition.
Westerhold earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Westerhold served as an Area Extension Educator in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology for University of Idaho where she created, delivered and collaborated on major risk management programs including Farm and Ranch Succession Planning, Farm and Ranch Management, Women in Agriculture, Farm Business Benchmarking and Agricultural Outlooks. At the University of Idaho, she has garnered over $300,000 in spending authority from five funded grants to support her research and extension efforts. She has led over 60 workshops and presentations, produced 40 video webinars, and authored 18 extension publications. Westerhold has always been passionate about Succession Planning because of her advisor, Dr. Ron Hanson, at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her main objective is to keep family farms and ranches in farming and ranching.