Transition planning in the Farm Office

By:Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law Monday, December 21st, 2020

The Farm Office team spends a good deal of time helping farmers with planning, and right now we’re practicing what we teach.  The past few months have brought transitions to the Farm Office, with two team members leaving and a new member coming on board.  The changes forced us to survey our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, to review and revise goals, and to identify the skills and talent that we need for the future.

That planning process brought us Jeffrey Lewis, an attorney who joined the Agricultural & Resource Law Program this month.  Jeff was in private Jeffrey Lewispractice for several years with Rolfes Henry Co, LPA in Columbus and was a legal intern with Wright & Moore Law Co, LPA in Delaware.  He followed his degree from OSU in Business Administration with a law degree from Capital University Law School, where he was a law review member and graduated with honors.  We’re excited that Jeff’s interests and expertise in business planning, non-profits, employment, and tax law align with the needs we identified in our planning process.

Ellen EssmanJeff’s position was possible by a renewed partnership opportunity with the National Agricultural Law Center and funding from the USDA’s National Agriculture Library.  That same grant allowed us to have Ellen Essman on staff for three years.  Ellen recently moved to a new role with the college’s Government Affairs unit.  As a law fellow with the Agricultural & Resource Law Program, Ellen authored many publications and led a national project surveying and assessing state efforts to address water quality impacts from agricultural nutrients.  Ellen’s ability to explain current litigation and legislation on the Ohio Ag Law Blog with a touch of clever humor will be missed, but she will serve Government Affairs well.

The FaBen Brownrm Office is also planning for the departure of Ben Brown, Asst. Professor in Ag Risk Management, who recently left OSU to return home to the University of Missouri.  OSU hired Ben several years ago and charged him with building a Farm Management Program in the Dept. of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics.  He tackled that goal with astonishing energy, a mind built for marketing and policy analysis, and genuine interest in Ohio’s agricultural community.  The Farm Office team will miss Ben’s passion and insight, but we look forward to continued collaboration with Ben in the future and hope to coax Ben onto Farm Office Live every now and then. 

The past few months have reminded us that transitions are difficult, both in a farm operation and an institutional program.   Our recent experience made us examine the impact of losing people, a reality that farm families face as generations move in and out of the farm operation.  That's a topic we'll be able to teach more about this winter, now that we've done our planning.

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