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FALL   •   WINTER   •   SPRING   •   SUMMER          New Vineyard Timeline
Grape - Spring Content


Succession Planning: Nearly Free Business Organizations

March 12, 2013
Succession Planning:  Nearly Free Business Organizations

Corporations, LLC, S-Corps and other business organizations have their place. In the excitement of limiting liability and developing into a sophisticated operation many growers look to these organizations. For some growers these organizations are absolutely essential and a bargain value. For small growers the tools offered are not always appropriate and the costs are disproportionate. Sole proprietorships and partnerships offer no liability protection, no flexibility in tax structure and other similar limitations. However, these organizations lower costs for insurance, filing fees, accounting services, and legal fees.

This sample partnership offers a method of transferring ownership to the next generation. It follows the research and advice of experts. For instance, ownership and management responsibilities are transferred gradually. The senior generation both requires and facilitates the input of some capital into the business. In doing so the junior generation has a vested interest in the business and a real understanding and sharing of the risks involved. The transfer of capital, however, is limited. It is structured to enable to transfer without great sacrifices in lifestyle to either party. It is also structured to create equity payments for labor. It is a tool to take the junior generation off of the payroll and to make payments for labor in equity. Equity payments and transfers are tax advantaged in every avenue. This dramatically lowers labor costs and increases the ability of the farmer to increase income of the junior generation without increasing overall costs.

This methodology is easily transferrable to other types of business plans, for a larger grower with significant liability risk coming from multiple employees an LLC would likely be a good organization that this methodology could be applied to. However, as I have said before, the sole proprietorships and partnership are drastically underrated. Even something as complex as succession planning and management structure can be handled within the confines of a partnership. This sample, specific to grapes, can give you some ideas on how exactly it can be accomplished.

Please let me know (by either email or a phone call, 716.792.2800 extension 205) if you use this template to brainstorm ways you can compose an ownership agreement or as inspiration of important things to include in your agreement. Please do not construe this template as legal advice or rely on this template but use as inspiration for your own ownership agreement.

Sample Partnership Agreement (pdf; 114KB)

Upcoming Events

LERGP Coffee Pot Meeting #5

Event Offers DEC Credits

May 29, 2024 : LERGP Coffee Pot Meeting
Fredonia, NY

Come join us for timely and pertinent vineyard discussion, coffee, donuts, camaraderie and pesticide credits.

LERGP Coffee Pot Meeting #6- LERGREC Field Day

Event Offers DEC Credits

June 5, 2024 : LERGREC FIELD DAY
North East, PA

Come spend a day with us at the North East lab and earn pesticide recertification credits too!  FREE Lunch is provided, but please register so we can plan for food.

Precision and Digital Viticulture Field Day

June 6, 2024 : Precision and Digital Viticulture Field Day
Portland, NY

Come see what the digital equipment actually does in the field.  The presenters will explain the technology in the classroom in the morning and take you out after lunch to demonstrate it at work in the field.  We have a full day of guest speakers bringing in drone sensors, hyperspectral sensing technology, robotics and ai, pruning robots, Naio Ted robotic tool carrier, and others.  Take a look at the packed agenda.  You do not want to miss this meeting!!


Precision and Digital Viticulture Field Day

Thursday, June 6th, 2024 | 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory Regional Grape Program
6592 West Main Road
Portland, NY 14769


10:00 - 10:10 Welcome - Jennifer Phillips Russo & Dr. Terry Bates

Research Updates

10:10- 10:25 Drone Sensors - Dr. Rob Chancia, Rochester Institute of Technology - Rob is working together to address vineyard nutrition through better monitoring techniques and guidelines for grape production across the nation and all grape markets. He will discuss his research as a part of this collaborative project conducted at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory.

10:25 - 10:40 Hyperspectral Sensing Technology - Kathleen Kanaley, Dr, Katie Gold Lab, Cornell University - Kathleen will update on her research with using satellite and drone imagery to develop remote sensing tools for early disease detection.

10:40 - 11:00 Meet PPB & Research Update - Dr. Yu Jiang, Cornell University - Yu will discuss his research utilizing the power of robotics and artificial intelligence to tackle major challenges facing farmers and drive a revolution in agricultural productivity and sustainability.

11:00 - 11:20 Carnegie Mellon University Pruning Robots - Dr. Abhi Silwal, Carnegie Mellon University - Abhi will present the design and field evaluation of a rugged and fully autonomous robot for end-to-end pruning of dormant season grapevines.

11:20 - 11:40 Vision Spraying and Electric Weeding - Dr. Lynn Sosnoskie, Cornell Weed Scientist - Lynn will update us on her research for sustainable programs that investigate other tools and technologies for controlling unwanted vegetation exploring non-chemical strategies for weed suppression including covering crops and mulches and vision-guided and electric weeders.

11:40 - 12:00 Naio Ted Robotic Tool Carrier- Chuck Baresich, Owner of Haggerty Creek - Chuck will be talking about the Naio Ted Robot and the potential use of robots to help improve efficiency in vineyards. Ted is the only autonomous straddle robot for vineyards with Augmented Autonomy. Perfect for mechanical weeding on the row.

12:00 - 1:00 Lunch

1:00 - 3:45 Outdoor Demonstrations of Precision & Digital Tools

3:45 - 4:00 Closing Remarks - Jenn Phillips Russo, Lake Erie Regional Grape Program

This is a FREE event but you must register!

Soil Health & Climate Resiliency Field Day 6/12/24

Come join us for a full day of education on soil health.  We have special guest speakers, soil pits, demonstrations and lunch.  This program is being hosted by the Betts' Farm.  Sponsorship from the LERGP, USDA NRCS, Cornell CALS, New York Soil Health, King's Agriseeds and E & J Gallo Winery have made this program come together and provide lunch for the day.
See agenda here:

10:00am-10:20am- Welcome

10:20am-10:40am- Our Soil Health Journey- Bob Betts, Betts Farm

10:40am-11:05am- Soil Health in Perennial Fruit Systems- why it matters?- Debbie Aller, Cornell University

11:05am-11:35am- NYFVI Cover Cropping Trials- Jennifer Phillips Russo

11:35am-Noon- Cover Crop Options for Different Applications- Rod Porter, Kings Agri-Seeds

Noon- 12:45pm- LUNCH

12:45pm-2:15pm- Soil Pit and Soil Health Trailer and Demos- Dan Ufnar (USDS, NRCS), Debbie Aller & Michael Glos(Cornell University)

2:15- Closing Remarks

This is a FREE event but you must register to help us plan for enough food. Thank you!

Welcome Andrew Holden to the LERGP team!

In case you have not heard yet, we have filled the vacant position of Business Management Educator. We are pleased to welcome Andrew Holden to our team. Here is a brief introduction with a little background. Please stop in to say hello and introduce yourself. Bring questions- he is ready to get to know you and your farm operation!

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program welcomed Andrew Holden, LERGP's Business Management Specialist, to our team on March 1, 2024, filling the vacancy since May 2023. Andrew pursued his education at Ohio State University, earning a B.S. in Agribusiness and Applied Economics and later obtaining an M.S. in Agricultural and Extension Education. In his previous role he served as the Ashtabula County Agricultural Extension Educator with Ohio State University Extension for the past 5 years. Andrew is eager to bring his passion for agriculture, grapes, and wine along with his economic knowledge to this new position and to the growers in the Lake Erie Grape Region. He is looking forward to engaging with growers to help him understand their needs to ensure that his role equips them with the tools needed for success. His office is located at the Cornell AgriTech campus in Portland, NY (CLEREL).

Commercial Vehicle Awareness slide presentation

NYS Trooper, Matt Luft, presented on Commercial Vehicle Awareness at CLEREL on Thursday, August 2nd.  He has given us the permission to share his slides for you to reference at your convenience to share with others or to review. Please reference this link. 

LERGP Podcasts- check them out!


LERGPLake Erie Regional Grape Program - Cornell Cooperative Extension
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