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Succession Planning: Fathers and the Family Farm

Succession Planning

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there!

Case IH understands the important role dads play, both within the family and on the farm.

Over the years, we have talked to a lot of dads about running the family farm and working alongside their sons and daughters. We’ve also heard a lot of stories – some good and some not so good – about the challenges of successfully passing the torch from one generation to the next.

Succession planning is an important part of a successful transition from father to son, father to daughter, or maybe to another family member or partner. Whatever your succession plan looks like, getting to that point can be difficult, and the conversations leading up to a plan can be uncomfortable.

Before you start the conversation about family farm transition or succession, make sure you know in detail how you want the succession to look. Be willing to comprise on that plan, but also know what you want so that you can effectively talk about those ideas.

As you prepare to have this conversation with your family, we recommend checking out the Farm Journal Legacy Project, which offers some helpful conversation starters. The article suggests a neutral location and ground rules (to ensure respect and courtesy) for the discussion. Getting in the habit of regular family meetings can help get conversations started and ideas flowing. When the time is right, use the conversation starters to transition to succession planning.

Communication between family members should be frequent, ongoing, participatory, explicit, and concrete, according to the Pennsylvania State College of Agriculture Sciences Cooperative Extension’s Farm Succession Planning- Conversations to Strengthen Farm & Family. Be prepared to take notes, listen to ideas – even if you don’t agree with them, and allow everyone a fair chance of sharing. While these steps seem obvious, you might be surprised once the conversation starts how many ideas family members have and how different they are.

Keep in mind, one conversation will not address every issue in succession, it may not even provide a lot of clarity, but the initial conversation will get the ball rolling.

Although succession planning may be difficult to talk about, avoiding conversations now can result in frustrating situations later, when the transition discussion can no longer be avoided.

Check back next week to see part two of this series on succession planning.

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