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Published May 05, 2014, 09:41 AM

Making farm transitions work

Transitioning a farm from one generation to the next is never easy, and can be next to impossible if the people involved don’t communicate, experts say.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Transitioning a farm from one generation to the next is never easy, and can be next to impossible if the people involved don’t communicate, experts say.

“Good communications are paramount in every aspect of farm transition,” says Gary Hachfeld, a University of Minnesota Extension educator with experience in farm transition. “And there needs to be mutual respect, mutual trust.”

Heather Gessner, South Dakota State University Extension livestock business management field specialist, also has worked with farm transition.

“Everybody needs to be on the same page, and it starts with communication,” she says.

Too often, people involved in a farm transition focus heavily on legal mechanisms and business structures. Those things are important, but the first concern should be identifying and prioritizing the goals of each family member, Hachfeld says.

First, everyone involved should set his or her own goals. Second, each couple should set their collective goals. Finally, the different generations should meet to set the overall goals, he says.

Gessner’s suggestions:

• Include nonfarm children, if any, in the discussions.

• Remember that nonfarm items, especially ones with sentimental value, need to be considered.

• Hold a few family gatherings or activities off the farm, especially if there are nonfarm children.

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