Farmers Retirement and Land Development

Katie Thompson
Last Updated: April 3, 2024

What happens when your children do not have the lifelong dream of taking over the farm? Many farmers face a complex set of decisions when they want to transition their business and move into retirement. Or maybe you don't have children to inherit your estate?  Or maybe there are too many siblings with conflicting financial goals?  There are a variety of estate planning options to consider as part of your retirement goals. 

Most farm estate planning articles don't discuss developing your land.  Here we will explore this additional retirement strategy or combination of strategies that you may have not considered.  Please note that every situation is different and should be reviewed in-depth with a qualified accountant/lawyer/financial planner to maximize your assets. 

Here are a few traditional farm retirement strategies:

  • Gifting your assets to your children or grandchildren
  • Selling your farm as-is to family members
  • Selling your farm as-is to an outsider
  • Setting up a trust
  • Keep your asset and hire employees to take over your operation

And finally, a less discussed option that we will review more in-depth:

  • Subdividing, servicing, developing, selling off parcels of your land and/or leasing your developed land (or any combination of these activities). 

Subdivision Planning

Maximize Your Land's Potential with a Feasibility Study

The average farmer in Canada has approximately +315 hectares of land (2011 census) and Saskatchewan farmers leads the way with an average of 608 hectares of land (2011 census). The average Alberta farmer has an average of 411 hectares of land (2011 census).  Developing farmland can be a profitable endeavor. As civil engineers, we will consider a variety of factors to determine if the site development project is feasible.

Some variables that are reviewed would include:

  • Existing services - water, sewer, gas, power availability or suitability
  • Soil types - septic field suitability, foundation requirements, suitability for road and lot grading. 
  • Civil design.  What kind and how many parcels will be subdivided
  • Proximity to major road networks. Do some roads need to be upgraded?
  • Municipalities rezoning options.  Some municipalities have more restrictions than others.
  • Cost of commercial development.
  • Are there parcels of land that can't be developed (wetlands, landfills, environmental reserves, potential contamination, etc.)?
  • Type of development (campground, RV storage, housing development, commercial development, etc.)
  • Location.  Is the area in high demand and can it be sold for a profit? Maybe only a portion of the land can be subdivided.  Your strategy may included developing a smaller portion of your farmland and gifting the rest to your family members. 
  • Development stages
  • Stormwater management requirements
  • Your vision and goals

You don't have control over your heir's interests or the ever-changing tax rules.  However, we challenge you to explore our less discussed option when it comes to estate planning, passive income and maximizing your long-term business potential for you and your family.   Our team of civil engineering experts at Bolson Engineering and Environmental Services will provide a comprehensive range of site development options to ensure you are maximizing your potential. Contact us to discuss your vision.

About the author

With more than 12 years in human resources, Katie brings important process management skills to the table. Her direct experience with senior management in the construction industry helps her understand your engineering project goals. Her creative forward-thinking propels Bolson toward exciting new business opportunities.

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