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How can generations bridge the gap to prepare for transition?

Reference: FCC

Silence can put a family farm in jeopardy.

It must be disconcerting to be in your seventies or eighties and not have a farm succession plan in place. However, conversations and family meetings will help you realize the best path forward, particularly with the rising generation.

Many farmers struggle to relinquish control. Some think that post succession, they must simply sit down on the couch and start watching afternoon TV. That’s simply not the case. This idea that one must stop farming after retirement is a misconception.

Farm operators often live with extraordinary financial risk for decades. It can be liberating for them to fully realize that they can continue to have employment income after they transition their farm ownership.

The senior generation can let go of the ownership, and truly start to engage the next generation and encourage them to risk their capital to purchase the family farm. This doesn’t have to be overnight, nor should it be. Successful farm operations share financial information with the next generation, teaching them about financing early and those conversations are held often. A perfect time to start is when the next generation is in their late teens.

Ideally, you want to bridge the gap incrementally, though. Attempting an overnight transition is ill-advised and seldom works well. Start with the most obvious area – the physical work. From there, if the rising generation is successful, gradually add additional responsibility to their job description. Even though you will have to adjust your plan as time unfolds, the reality is that getting ready for a farm transition can feel satisfying. A major burden will be lifted off the shoulders of the senior generation, who have often carried the stress of providing for their family for decades.

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