We've gathered the best succession advice from farming families who have been through the process. Here's what worked and what they would have done differently, given the opportunity.
One of the toughest challenges for young farmers is the uncertainty around what the plan is for the family farm in the future and how they fit into that plan. Farm transition planning brings certainty.
Heather Watson, the executive director of Farm Management Canada, says there are unfortunately a lot of misconceptions about farm transition planning, making it difficult for many farms to start the conversation.
Choosing a successor is no easy task. While various family members may have ideas about who’s entitled to inherit the farm, the current owners may have very different ideas about who has the skills to keep the farm going in the long run.
A farm transition plan, a farm succession plan, an intergenerational transfer plan, a farm continuity plan – no matter what you call it, the process of planning a successful transition of a farm business from one generation to the next can sometimes be a minefield of family dynamics.
Good communication is a necessary requirement for farm families to follow through with a succession plan, but what worked a generation ago doesn’t cut it nowadays, according to Richard Cressman, a communication coach based in southeastern Ontario.
Whether you’re at the beginning of the succession planning process, in the midst of transitioning or are about to complete the process, there are different elements to keep in mind.
There’s much more to succession planning than paving the way to financial security, as Lance Stockbrugger, chartered accountant and farmer, knows from working with farming clients over the years.
Many farm families view succession planning as an event rather than a process and that, according to Darrell Wade, founder of Farm Life Financial Planning Group and a certified member of the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors, can be a big mistake.
Expansion and innovation is what Dusty Zamecnik is focused on with EZ Grow Farms, even though he wasn’t originally planning to take it over.
Twenty-five years ago, when a very young Simon Ellis first perched on his Dad’s knee to steer a tractor, one thing was already very clear to him: someday, he was going to take over his family’s 1,250 acre farm in Wawanesa, Man., just as his dad, his grandpa and his great-grandpa had done before him.
Third generation poultry farmer Don Sundgaard says when it comes to succession, be patient, encourage off-farm experiences and welcome both formal and informal discussions.
Family is complicated: this is a truth Brent Oswald knows intimately. The current owner and operator of Cottonwood Holsteins Ltd., based in Steinbach, Man., is well-versed in the succession history of his operation, and it hasn’t always run smoothly.
Let us help you kickstart your succession planning with some help from these national and provincial resources.
There’s a lot to think about as families prepare the next generation to take over the family farm. An important aspect not to overlook is identifying the skills needed and then getting the training to develop or strengthen those skills – and they aren’t the same skills as in yesteryear.
There’s a lot to think about as a family transitions its farm business to a new generation. Who is the best person to pass the reins to? What skills and training do they need to prepare them for the role of farm owner and operator? What process will the family follow during the transition? And, of course, what are the financial and tax implications of succession for both the current owner and the successor?
“Be afraid of the ‘Tim Hortons lawyer’ – someone down at the coffee shop who wants to give you advice on how to put together your succession plan,” says Robert Fuller, a partner at Simcoe, Ont.-based Brimage Law Group.