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Families and their ranches' futures

Workshop designed to give information on how to pass along ranches to family members

by: KEVIN GABOURY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Buffalo roam on Steve and Bev Oberg's Powell Butte ranch.

To help ranching families develop successful succession plans and address any concerns that they may have, the Oregon State University Extension Service, along with the Oregon Cattleman's Association will be holding the Ties to the Land: Succession Planning for Ranching Families workshop on Jan. 24 at the OSU Extension Office in Prineville.
   Registration is $50 per ranch and checks should be made out the OSU Extension Service.
   According to Barbi Riggs of the OSU Extension Office, the workshop will "help give them a tool to evaluate how they're going to pass on their estate to the next generation." The Prineville OSU Extension Office is located at 498 SE Lynn Boulevard.
   For Steve and Bev Oberg, owners of the Oregon Bison Ranch on SW Cornett Loop in Powell Butte, the workshop comes at the perfect time.
   Steve was born and raised on a dry-land farm in Montana, which his family lost to financial reasons when he was in high school. With no farm to take over, he decided to go to school and earned his Ph. D in bionucleonics and was a professor for 30 years. However, his longing has always been to reconnect.
   The couple purchased the 115-acre property in June 2005 and it is currently home to 32 head of naturally raised bison.
   "The purpose was not just for nostalgia, or to have a hobby farm. We decided to make the small farm a viable, self-supporting enterprise," Steve said.
   They have a lengthy list of improvements they would like to have made on the ranch, including construction of a completely "green" farmhouse.
   But, as Steve put it, "We know that we're not going to live long enough to see all those things come true. We're in our 60s now, and we're hoping for a few more good years so we can make progress on this, but we've always had our eye on the future."
   Sustainability is the name of the game for the Obergs and they hope that their two grown children can carry on their endeavor in same way.
   "They're strong supporters of improving this place to the point where, between the two of them and their children, they can keep it a viable agricultural enterprise," Steve said. "We have reason to believe that the 115 acres can support themselves."
   The plan is to keep the ranch intact and eventually have their children as partners in continuing to improve the property. However, the legal nuances of property succession can be confusing, so for the Obergs, the workshop is very timely.
   "We know that it can be a very complicated thing and the fine print is very critical. Conceptually, we definitely have ideas about succession and our children are already in tune with it," Steve said. "We just need to make sure we use all the right legal instruments and language so that there's no external influence that would redirect our plans."
   Workshop details
   For more information on the workshop, contact Barbi Riggs at the Prineville OSU Extension Office at 541-447-6228 or Workshop Coordinator Bart Eleveld at 541-737-1409.