Susan K. Voss preaches peace of mind for Iowa’s women farmers. Of course, her official topic at the First Annual Iowa Women’s Landowner Conference this week will actually be: Which is the right business entity for your farm? – A question she can answer with notable authority after 26 years of providing accounting and tax services to a wide range of agricultural clients.
To the extent that time allows, Voss and her colleague Jill Yule – both CPAs with TD&T Group, PC – will explain the ins and outs of the business entities that most commonly work for farm operations, including Sole Proprietorship, S Corporations, C Corporations, Partnerships, and Limited Liability Companies.
“Our plan is to lay out some of the big pieces; to present the most common choices along with the pros and cons of each entity,” says Voss. “In 30 minutes we’ll only be able to scratch the surface, so the goal is to get women thinking about this question so they can take the next step and get more in-depth consultation about choosing the right business entity for their farm.”
But far beyond her extensive professional experience, Voss brings a wealth of personal perspective that attendees are sure to identify with. “I’ve been married to a farmer for over 20 years,” she explains. “We own our farm ground, rent a little bit more, and have been through many phases of farming life already.”
Voss recounts that over the last two decades, their farm, like so many others, has gone from being “all inclusive” – with cattle, hogs, hay, and row crops – to being almost exclusively row crops with just a small corner reserved for hay to feed the six horses that Voss’s husband insists aren’t really part of the farm.
Along with “what” the farm produces, Voss and her family have had to deal with issues of “who” is doing the producing. That has included difficult and delicate negotiations with family members in the past and also a plan for their own kids’ futures. With one son coming up in the farm and two other siblings making their way off the farm, the family has had to deal with each member’s stake in the family business.
Voss is intensely aware of the role that she plays in maintaining the balance in her family as they navigate these tricky waters. “Maybe I’m old fashioned,” she says, “but I still think of women as being a big piece of holding families together. They need to know how to put the pieces of the puzzle together so that they are still a happy family on Christmas day.”
She went on to say, “This conference is very important to me because I know there are women who are very driven and intelligent, but who don’t necessarily have all the information they need to help their farm succeed.”
Providing some measure of that information is why Voss says she is excited to be participating in this conference. “My goal is to give women the information they need to determine when they should be talking to someone and who they should be talking to in order to put themselves in a better tax position, or in a better transitioning position, or succession position – to get them thinking about the next question they should be asking and who to trust for the best answers.”
Voss’s hope for the women who attend the conference is that one day they will achieve the balance and peace of mind enjoyed by one of her most successful clients. “She has really pushed her husband and her children to plan,” Voss says of this empowered farm wife. “And she sleeps really well at night knowing her family and their future is secure. That’s something I’d like to give to every farm woman if I could.”
Attend the Conference
To hear more of Sweeney’s story and to learn from other legal and financial experts, plan to attend the Iowa Women’s Landowner Conference on June 13, 2013. Visit the conference page for complete details and to register to reserve your seat today. We also encourage you to share this story by Liking Us on Facebook.