"There can be very negative consequences for the farm business in the absence of a plan," she said. "Farm families could jeopardize land and other assets."

There also are personal considerations, such as whether potential partners could work well with each other, said Robert Taylor, professor emeritus of agricultural economics. They also should consider whether the farm would generate enough income for each to make a living.

"If we make a decision, it's got to be good for both of us," Taylor said. "It doesn't work if the decision is good for me and bad for you. Set the business up so that the decisions that are good for one guy are good for the other guy also."

Each person should work hard to improve the business relationship, Taylor said.

"Make very sure I'm doing the best I can to be a good young or old partner," he said. "Each person needs to recognize there is potential for difficulty. I need to work hard and not be difficult."

He said communication is important in a partnership, including understanding each other's goals. The partnership can run into problems if each person heads in different directions.

More than 95 percent of new farmers begin on their family farm. But if there are no children to take over the business, a farmer might look for a young person outside the family who wants to get into farming, Taylor said.

"The young guy gets the chance to farm, the old guy continues to farm and do what he can and be a part of the ongoing, vibrant business," Taylor said. "He's not chasing the cows when they're out, but he's helping with government programs because he can do that. So he gets the chance to continue farming for many years."

Taylor said young farmers should provide both labor and management, which includes identifying problems and suggesting solutions for how the farm could improve.