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Wednesday, 30 January 2013 08:53

Succession planning seminar set for Feb. 13

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Interest in succession planning is growing and officials with the Economic Development Alliance of Southeast Alberta’s Agriculture Committee are hoping to see a large turnout at the upcoming Training the Next Generation full-day seminar.
It is set to take place Feb. 13 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Higdon Hall on the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede Grounds.

With the positive interest in the event in the past and just under 130 people in attendance at last year’s event, officials hope to see 250 people attending this year, explains Shelley Dirk, the EDA’s business development officer.
“This is something the agriculture committee realizes there is a need for,” she says. “Agriculture is such an economic driver in the Canadian economy. Statistics Canada is showing the number of farms are decreasing while the age of farmers is increasing.”
Opening remarks the day of the seminar will be made by Bob Friesen, vice-president of Government Affairs, Farmers of North America.
“He’s a well-known person in the agricultural sector and highly-regarded and respected,” says Dirk.
From 1999 to 2008, Friesen represented farmers as president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. He regularly meets with federal and provincial cabinet ministers, opposition critics and parliamentarians and represented the interests of Canadian producers in international trade talks with the Cairns Group and the World Trade Organization.
For the past three years he has done work through the Farmers of North America.
Leona Dargis will present A Young Perspective on Adversity and Adaptability in Agriculture.
“She lost her parents at a young age and her and her siblings were left to take over their large agriculture operation,” explains Dirk.
Dargis’ parents died in 2007, and she along with four younger sisters, took over the mixed farming operation of 4,000 head and 7,000 acres. They continued to pursue their educations at the same time.
Dargis graduated from Olds College in Alta. and worked for MNP in Red Deer. In 2011, she received one of three prestigious Canadian Nuffield Scholarships enabling her to study the topic of succession planning and farm diversification around the world.
She has travelled to India, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and now shares her knowledge as a keynote speaker, hoping to influence farm families to take action in respective estate plans.
Merle Good, a provincial tax specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, will round out the day of presentations taking a closer look at the numbers side of succession.
His focus is on “identifying and adapting financial management and tax-related strategies with unique business structures to meet the ever-evolving needs of Alberta’s agricultural industry.”
Although succession in agriculture is an important topic, Dirk would like to see anyone interested in succession planning attend the event.
“Any business owner would benefit from the information being presented,” she explains. “Agriculture is the focus, but I would encourage anyone from the business community to attend.”
Every year the Training the Next Generation seminar is held, the speaker line-up is changed and new information can be gleaned. That’s the reason why people will often choose to attend the event every year.
This year the event includes a networking session from 3:30-5 p.m. where participants can speak one-on-one with the presenters or each other about what they heard during the day.
“It should be a nice collaborative session and informal,” says Dirk.
Registration by Feb. 4 is required to attend the event. It can be done online at or contacting the EDA office at 403-488-7015 or in person at #28-419 3rd St. S.E. Medicine Hat. The cost is $25 which includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor