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October 2012 Archive for Leave a Legacy

RSS By: Kevin Spafford, Legacy Project

Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project.  He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.

So You Wanna Be a Farmer

Oct 30, 2012

Citrus NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (10/26/2012).
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"Wanted: Full-time, professional farmer. Must be dedicated to feeding and clothing the surrounding community and working long hours. You'll learn about varieties, agronomy, preservation, packaging, transportation, people, marketing and sales. This position requires an ability to learn, troubleshoot problems, complete projects and research alternative solutions. It is located in any town across the U.S. and is available to anyone with a burning desire to succeed."
 

In the study "Local Foods Marketing Channels Encompass a Wide Range of Producers" by Sarah A. Low and Stephen Vogel, we learn that "small and midsized farms with local food sales were more likely to consider farming as the principal operator's primary occupation than comparably sized farms without local food sales. Overall, farm operators selling locally were 30% more likely than other operators to list their primary occupation as farming; small-farm operators selling food locally were 50% more likely to do so."

What about you? All it takes are a good idea and a solid business plan. Even if it's not your ultimate career choice, it is a beginning, and you might become the Sam Walton of American produce...

What about you? All it takes are a good idea and a solid business plan. Even if it's not your ultimate career choice, it is a beginning, and you might become the Sam Walton of American produce...
 
News & Resources for You:
 
First take a close look at your business plan.
 
Now, ready to build your dream farm?
 
Be sure to think big thoughts. 
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Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.

Opportunity Knocks

Oct 23, 2012

'Robert is Here' is a great example of accessing opportunity.  See the family's story on 'Leave a Legacy' TV.From Legacy Moment (10/19/2012).
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It's no surprise that local food sales are increasing. Consumers are responding to the health benefits, freshness and community appeal of locally grown products.

According to the study "Local Foods Marketing Channels Encompass a Wide Range of Producers" by Sarah A. Low and Stephen Vogel, the size of the local food market in the U.S. was $4.8 billion in 2008. While that number accounts for a small sector of U.S. agriculture, it continues to grow.

What does this mean for you? For an experienced producer, it might lead to new opportunities or expanded operations. For an aspiring farmer, it might lead to a starting point. Locally grown produce can be a way to get your foot in the door and start farming without a huge cash outlay. Even if you have bigger ideas on the horizon, don't pass up the opportunity to start a business, serve the customer and experience farming firsthand.

News & Resources for You:  

Gary and Crystal Dell understand the importance of remaining open-minded to new opportunities.

Remember the upcoming Legacy Project Workshops in Amarillo, Texas; Salina, Kansas; and Denver, Colorado.

At Dairy Today's Elite Producer Business Conference, catch a presentation by the Legacy Project's Josh Sylvester on Wednesday, Nov. 7. 

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Photo courtesy of the Moehling family ('Robert is Here')

Mentor-Protégé Relationship

Oct 17, 2012

Grain Rotation   USDA ARSFrom Legacy Moment (10/12/2012).
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Many preharvest crop decisions (such as the timing and extent of soil preparation, seeding and pest management) vary with local soil and weather conditions. Operators often learn through trial and error as much as through training, Extension service, and suppliers. Similarly, successful livestock enterprises require breeding, feeding, and culling savvy that improves with experience. Marketing decisions—when to sell, how much, to whom and under what kind of arrangement—also benefit from experience and new information. Moreover, the relevant experience is specific to a particular farm business (encompassing the commodities being produced, the services provided and the resources available to that business), which is why business age matters, and not simply the operator's age and personal experience."  

This passage, from an article titled "Experience Counts: Farm Business Survival in the U.S." in the April 2007 issue of USDA's Amber Waves publication, is possibly the best argument I've read for forging a mentor-protégé relationship. It reinforces the value of experience and emphasizes the true worth of tenured experience on a farm, raising the same crop and employing a given set of resources.

A young person intent on a farming career is well advised to gain as much specific experience as possible. There is no substitute for the wisdom that can be gleaned from working with an experienced operator.

To those just launching a career, I ask - Who do you confide in, and do they possess the specific skills and abilities necessary to help you grow the operation?

News & Resources for You: 

• Each generation involved in the operation has a role to play in its development.

• Meet two neighbors who have established an ideal mentor/protégé relationship, in this recent "Leave a Legacy TV" episode.

• Jump-start your succession plan with a Legacy Project Workshop. Sign up today for events in Amarillo, Salina or Denver. 

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Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.

Experience Matters

Oct 09, 2012

Grasses   Iowa   USDA NRCS From Legacy Moment (10/05/2012).

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According to Webster's dictionary, experience is "active participation in events or activities, leading to the accumulation of knowledge or skill." When coaching leadership development, we stress a multi-faceted approach, which might include on-the-job training, classroom study, leadership exercises and mentor-protégé relationships.
 
Experience in production agriculture is far more than an ability to tackle farm chores, drive a tractor or milk cows. It's about making decisions, financial analysis, risk management, people skills and business planning. On the farm today, brains supplant brawn, weather is not the only risk and timing is everything.
 
In the April 2007 issue of Amber Waves, a USDA publication, an article entitled "Experience Counts: Farm Business Survival in the U.S." reminds us of the importance of experience. The article states:
 
  • "Farming, like other businesses, exhibits high turnover, with many thousands of existing farms going out of business each year.
 
  • "As in other industries, new farm businesses enter at a high rate and new entrants subsequently exit at high rates, irrespective of the size of the farm or the age of the operator.
 
  •  "Exit rates fall as businesses age to 5 to 9 years old, and then fall again, although modestly, for more experienced farm businesses."
 
As the article also points out, "Experience seems to provide an important advantage to well-established businesses that can learn quickly and efficiently."
 
Got experience?
 

News & Resources for You:

Leadership may be the single biggest gap in any succession plan. Use our Leadership Skills Inventory to identify areas for professional growth. 
 
The owner and successor must work together now to cultivate for the future. For more on leadership, read Danny Klinefelter's "10 Lessons".
 
Ensure that your experience will count by turning goals into actions

 

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Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.

It's Simple to Start

Oct 02, 2012

Aerial of Michigan crops   orchards   USDA NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (09/28/2012).
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Succession is affected by everything. There is no way to narrow it down to a single issue or prescribed standard solution. I encourage each farm family to establish a succession plan; without a plan the odds are severely stacked against the success of the family and the operation.
 
Planning for succession compels the family to discuss, among other things, threats to the operation—regulations, environmental issues, labor, markets, the cost of doing business—and more importantly, the compromises necessary to realize their long-term dreams.
 
As the family talks about succession and the challenges of the process, asking the following questions may help to focus the conversation:
 
  • Are our goals centered on continuing to farm?
  • Are our goals focused on preserving a farming legacy on family land?
  • Are our goals intent on growing family wealth and providing future generations with career opportunities?
 
Using simple reasoning like this, the family may more clearly define common goals.
 

News & Resources for You:

Get started today by clarifying your goals right here.
 
With family, as with any business, it's important to have a strong business plan.
 
December will be here before you know it. Remember to sign up now for the Legacy Project Workshops in Amarillo, Texas; Salina, Kansas; and Denver, Colorado.
 
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Photo Courtesy of USDA NRCS.
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