UW-Madison Division of Extension Adds Farm Lawyer to Team

UW-Madison Division of Extension Adds Farm Lawyer to Team

UW-Madison Division of Extension has added a farm lawyer to its team. Kelly T. Wilfert, J.D., joined the Farm Management program in August 2023 as an outreach specialist focusing on areas of legal risk that impact farms, agribusinesses, and rural communities.

While Kelly will not provide legal advice or draft or review legal documents in this role, her Extension work will include developing educational programming and providing resources to help address farm legal needs in Wisconsin. Farmers in rural areas of Wisconsin may have limited access to legal counsel as only a quarter of active Wisconsin attorneys live outside of Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Dane Counties according to the State Bar of Wisconsin. However, the operation and transfer of farm businesses create many areas of legal risk. It can be overwhelming to consider legal risk while evaluating new market opportunities, entering leases and contracts, and planning for farm transition. In this role, Kelly strives to empower farmers with the knowledge to identify legal risks and understand basic legal tools for mitigating those risks.

Kelly's background is rooted in agricultural law. She grew up on a 700-acre farm in northeastern Wisconsin raising fresh market fruits and vegetables, cash grain, and processing vegetables. She still helps on the family farm as she is able and uses that background to balance her legal expertise with the realities of farming. Prior to joining Extension, she assisted farm, business, and banking clients with a variety of legal issues including entity formation, contracts, real estate, leasing, limiting liability, regulatory compliance, farm transfers, farm succession, estate planning, fence law, and green energy opportunities. Kelly is a licensed Wisconsin attorney and is a member of both the State Bar of Wisconsin and the American Agricultural Law Association.

Kelly looks forward to working with the agricultural community and interested legal professionals to develop research-based programming that informs farmers' legal risk decisions to manage a profitable and stable farm business. In contrast to local or regional Extension educators who may focus on a specific geographic region of Wisconsin, Kelly will serve farmers across the state of Wisconsin. You can learn more about Kelly's work, including recent articles and videos, upcoming workshops on legal risk and farm succession, and the Farm Management program generally, online at farms.extension.wisc.edu. Kelly can also be reached directly at 608-263-5798 or Kelly.Wilfert@wisc.edu.

The Farm Management Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension partners with the agriculture community to develop research-based, culturally responsive educational information, resources and tools that inform decisions for profitable, healthy farm businesses. The Farm Management team also includes outreach specialists focusing on financial management, business development, farm succession, dairy policy and markets, safety and health, and human resources.