Kevin Spafford has heard all of the excuses. The reasons farmers give for not implementing a succession plan range from fear of conflict to not enough time for planning.
"The single greatest asset for the family is the farm, yet most farmers have no plan on how to pass it on to the next generation," says Spafford, Farm Journal succession planning expert. "I have never met a farmer yet who doesn’t want the farm to stay in the family. Farmers have to commit today to ensure future business success."
The percentage of farms that fail from lack of planning is 70%, Spafford says. Of the 30% that survive, 90% will not make it to a third generation. Of the meager few that do survive, 96% won’t make it to the fourth.
At a Farm Journal Legacy Project Workshop held this week in Columbia, Mo., Spafford polled the crowd of more than 100 attendees about what is keeping them from completing a succession plan. Nearly 60% of attendees said they didn’t know where to start when it came to succession planning. Another 20% said they didn’t know who could help, and the remainder worried about the process creating too much conflict within the family.
A family meeting is the perfect starting point to set goals for the succession planning process, Spafford says. Keep in mind that you and the other participants must have realistic expectations for the outcome of the meeting, and set specific goals for the group to accomplish to help maintain focus, he recommends.
So what’s keeping you from completing a succession plan? For more help and resources on succession planning, visit www.farmjournallegacyproject.com.