Maybe farming is so unique because it revolves around such a strong bond between people, family, and the land. Because of this, generational transitions on the farm feel like they touch our emotions in such a stirring way.
A few questions to keep in mind when it’s time to start planning a generational transition:
- What’s going on now? Take the time to WRITE DOWN the current pieces of your farm business. What products do you raise and how are they marketed? What farm land do you own? What farm land do you lease? What kind of equipment do you own? Most of us don’t realize how much we have and how complex our farms actually are. Put it on paper so everyone involved in the transition process can refer to the same information.
- Who else is with you? Involve everyone connected to the farm ownership early on. You, your spouse, your kids, siblings, nieces and nephews; anybody who currently has a role in the farm business, as well as those who may want a role later on. Not everyone needs to be a decision maker in this process, but understanding goals and expectations from the whole group up front will help to avoid headaches and costly surprises down the road.
- Where are you going? No transition is as simple as a farm owner handing over the keys to the operation as he quietly rides off into the sunset. The hard work and grit that go into running a farm are pretty hard to just turn off. Give plenty of early consideration to what your personal goals are during and after a transition. Taking a step back from being in charge doesn’t mean disappearing, so be open with each other about what the next phase of your role on the farm should look like.