How to prepare the farm for the next generation

What does the future of your farm look like, considering the people involved? More specifically, what about the farm’s leadership? Who will lead the operation in different aspects?

Farms may currently be in a number of different scenarios when it comes to who is involved in future leadership and whether a leadership transition is taking place. Many farms have members of the next generation who have been in the business for years, while others may be just beginning their involvement.

On some farms, someone other than a family member is preparing to take over the operation. This individual is actively preparing and working with the current owner of the farm to successfully manage the operation.

And some farms may find themselves in a situation where the current owners simply don’t know who will be in charge of the business in the future. If that’s your operation, that can be a difficult scenario. It certainly brings a lot of uncertainty. There may be uncertainty as to whether a family member will return to the farm, or whether he or she will be ready to manage the farm.

Provide clarity

Whatever your company’s situation in terms of what leadership and ownership will look like in the future, it requires intentionality. Having the right conversations with those involved helps reduce uncertainty and provides more clarity about the future.

First, the current owners and leaders of the farm must be clear about what they want from the operation. Do they want it to go beyond themselves? Or maybe they want to sell everything? Those are two very different decisions about the future that require very different actions right now.

If the current generation of the farm wants the operation to continue, they have several options for exploring who will be involved. Conversations can help determine the plans and goals of the potential future leader or leaders.

Training to lead

Then it’s about creating a clear training plan for the farm’s future generation so that they are capable and ready to lead the operation. This time of year can be a great opportunity to train the company’s future leader in overseeing production and the growing season.

It’s also a good time to introduce them to the business and financial side of the operation. Make sure they are involved in conversations with your marketing advisor, banker, suppliers and any other advisors. The sooner you can involve them in business meetings and decisions, the more comfortable they will feel in that situation. Gradually you can hand parts of the meeting over to them so they can handle it themselves, with you present for support and advice.

Farmers have found that getting a third-party perspective from our market advisors has helped calm their minds. The advisors assist farmer clients with the planning and execution of marketing decisions and help them stay informed about the current, rapidly changing grain market situation – and how it affects their operations.

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