Farm succession planning (PassingDownTheFarm.com) is a many faceted equation, and because it is unlikely that you have already been through it recently, it will require you to ask for help from those likely to know more than you.
While succession planning is key to every organization’s survival beyond the founder’s generation, it is absolutely critical for everyone in agriculture.
Often the value of the farm’s underlying assets, the land itself, continues to appreciate over time, making the old-fashioned technique of the senior generation selling it to the successor generation.
Below the video there are some insights into the process I know you’ll find valuable.
Be Sure To Watch This Video!
Farm succession planning includes elements of strategic planning, family relationship strategies, and farm estate planning. Are you willing to set your ego aside and ask for help or not?
Farmers need to look at what’s working and what’s not in order to better understand which past, present, and future actions are the most likely to take their farm in the direction they want it to go.
Add to that the creation of policies, practices, training, tactics, and actions that will result in your next generation being able to lead and manage the farm in the future.
And putting it all together with the documents required to add the force of law necessary to ensure it all happens.
It goes without saying that no one knows all that needs knowing about farm succession planning on their own, enough to cobble together all these elements in an overall process that will result in the seamless transition of your farm over the years to the next generation.
Originally published as a har cover book we organized the contents to tell the story of farm succession planning. When we converted it to a farm succession planning workbook we organized it in a step-by-step building block fashion. Now that it is here online you should feel free to start and stop and revisit ideas and thoughts in many ways over time. In addition to the links on this page there will be related material in both the “Reccommended Reading” area below as well as in the Catrgories area. Everyone who watches the videos, reads the comments, and answers the questions posed in this and every part of the farm succession planning contentwill be doing so from their unique perspective – their own point of view, perhaps along with the input of their own families.
The farm succession planning process is never ending. There will always be a senior generation reluctant to let go, a successor generation anxius to take control, and many others who are very invested in the decisions being made. Only the very rich (and not many of them) have the financial stamina to have farm succession planning experts on the payroll forever. Inthe material to follow you’ll see how important it is to appoint someone, possibly someone in the family, to act as the person who’ll take charge of the planning process. This is the person who will be responsible for making sure each farm succession planning step is taken and that the proper records are kept.
Successfully passing down the farm is about behavior, your behavior. The question is, “how can you see that your beliefs, based on past experiences, is responsible for your behavior?” I hope you can achieve that clarity from the systematic asking and answering of questions. Questions that uncover feelings and beliefs. Questions that build your capacity to handle these issues yourself – without creating a co-dependent relationship with outside advisors.
By now, I hope, you’ve had at least one farm succession planning family meeting – maybe evenappointed someone willing to act as the “planning coordinator” to help manage the flow of the process, and you now have a better idea how to identify what’s important to each of you. What we’ve seen again and again is the farm succession process is easily brought to a screeching halt unless the (often financial) concerns of the senior generation are not considered early and often throughout the process.
Hopefully you see where this is going, maybe you’ve begun to lay the farm succession planning foundation. Here we’ll embark on the process leading to the determination of fair vs. equal. Everything you’ve done up to this point has an impact on the issues discussed in this session. And most importantly I hope, perhaps tentatively at first, decisions will flow from the conversations you’ll have around the important issues presented here.
Remember, farm succession planning is a process not an event. Therefore it takes time to fully develop and for you and your family to reap 100% of its rewards. If there is any one single reason why people delay getting started it is the senior generation’s fear that their successors are not “ready” to handle it – because they know all too well who trained them. In this session we’ll look at the key elements of getting a handle on how ready the successors really are to handle the risks and responsibilities of management.
A young farmer, one of five members of his generation, complained to me that the stumbling block to the farm’s success was his cousins. They were not all bad people, they just created conflict whenever important decisions had to be made. He knew he would get the blame when things went wrong and they would pounce on every opportunity to take the credit when they worked out. More importantly, his dad and uncles looked to him as the responsible member of the successor generation.
In good times and bad we accept our leaders because of their persona as someone who understands the farm’s and our objectives and can bring it to us believably – giving us the confidence we need to act. Leaders inspire action. Without action there is no progress. Without progress their can be no leaders. In this session leadership is described in the context of succession, providing what’s needed to get us from this generation to the next.
When you are able to get your advisors – attorney, accountant, financial planner, life underwriter, and any other professional advisors you have – on board as a team, the results will always be better than if you take the advice of any one of them. If there was an end to the process of passing down the farm I would say you are at the end.
We all know that better farm succession planning outcomes are the result of having made better decisions in the past. We are where we are right now because of those decisions. Historically better decisions come from collaboration – testing our assumptions among a small group of people whose opinions we respect. The most effective process for consistently making better decisions is when a that group of participants meets regularly – over the phone is the best way using a systematic process.
Farm succession planning is an evolving process. When each member of your informal farm succession planning board of advocates uses a farm succession planning blueprint for discussion, these important constituents, groups of confidants, will be able to shed light today, as well as in the future.
When, with your peers, your family, and your professional advisior alawys be willing to ask for help when entering the farm succession – passing down the farm process, then paying heed to the insights offered because they are a vital ongoing part of the process.
Editor’s Note: Our obligation, as citizens – is to stay connected to our elected representatives. Remember, they work for us not the other way around. To help you and your colleagues do just that we have a page with links to various state and congressional offices where you can more easily contact them. By letting your elected representatives know how they can serve your needs better they will either do so or understand why they will be replaced at the next election. Click here and bookmark this page for current and future reference!
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More Farm Succession Planning Resources Below
- Effective Business Development
- Farm Succession Planning: On Autopilot
- Farm Succession Planning: Getting Better Professional Advice
- Farm Succession Planning: Leadership Development
- Farm Succession Planning: Workplace Conflict Resolution
- Farm Succession Planning: Can The Successors Manage The Farm Today?
- Managing The Bad Things About Social Media