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Preserve Your Farm, Then Pass it On

September 3, 2010
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
Legacy Project Workshop
Kevin Spafford, left, succession planning expert for Farm Journal, visits with Art Schnuck, a farmer from Boonville Mo., during the Legacy Project workshop in Columbia, Mo.   

Most farmers want to keep their farms in the family. At least, that’s what succession planning expert Kevin Spafford hears over and over as he visits with farming families. Yet, in today’s world, that’s not an easy task.

Spafford encourages families to determine their goals and consciously work toward them.
He says a comprehensive succession plan is the key to achieving your goals.
 
“If you are dependent on your farmer’s operation’s success, it is your responsibility to initiate the process,” he says. “We have multimillion dollar operations depending on the decisions of the next generation.”
 
Here are some steps you can take with your family to complete your succession planning process:
 
____ Decide to secure your legacy.
 
____ Schedule a family meeting. Here’s a guide on how to organize and run your first “Family Meeting.”
 
____ Distribute “Conversation Starters
 
____ Define succession planning objectives
 
____ Identify a facilitator
 
____ Schedule a consulation
 
____ Refine goals
 
____ Seek commitment from family members: Fill out this “Commitment Agreement Form.”
 
____ Conduct research and define corrective actions
 
____ Business planning
 
____ Operation agreement
 
____ Employment policies
 
____ Other legal arrangements
 
____ Leadership development: See some “Leadership Development tools
 
____ Ownership transition
 
____ Financial security
 
____ Estate planning: See some “Estate Planning tools
 
____ Dispute resolution
 
____ Agree on an ongoing communication strategy to inform family
 
____ Bring in additional assistance as necessary
 
____ Review annually
 

You can learn more about succession planning by attending one of the Legacy Project Workshops.

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