If something unexpected happened to the farm or within the family itself, does everyone in the entire family already know and understand what would happen next? A lesson to remember: what if usually happens when you very least expect it. That fact alone underscores the importance of business succession planning for the next farming generation so that a farming legacy continues.
Just the idea of succession planning itself can be an emotional as well as stressful struggle for many farm families. Family obstacles as well as personal fears can become road blocks to the planning process and nothing ever gets accomplished.
There are no shortcuts and/or easy solutions to implementing a farm business succession plan for the next generation. There are many difficult questions which need answers and solutions. Finding strategies to overcome these potential challenges is the key for success to continue a family farming legacy for future generations.
Mapping out a succession plan to keep a farm in the family and family members on their farm is important. The critical question is where do we start? How can all of this be accomplished? Following a six step planning process can lead to a successful transition of farm ownership as well as management control for future generations.
Farm family members must adopt a vision for keeping their farming operation in the family for the next generations. Do all members of the entire family agree and support this vision? Without identified goals with established deadlines, the transition planning process for passing on the farm usually fails and nothing ever gets accomplished for the next farming generation.
Succession planning requires open and honest communications between all farm family members involved. It is important that family members be willing to share their personal feelings as well as possible concerns with each other. Never underestimate the power of effective communications to eliminate potential misunderstandings within a family to insure a farming legacy continues.
Farm families often make the mistake of waiting until its too late to start their succession planning process. Now nothing can be done to implement a plan for the next generation. It is never too early for family members to begin a discussion process to create as well as implement a business succession plan for their farm. Succession planning needs to be a management tool which creates harmony within the family while building stronger family values.