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May 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.

What's the Hurry?

May 29, 2012

 iStock Cross Roads CroppedFrom Legacy Moment (05/25/2012).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Why all the interest in succession planning? What’s the hurry? Does it make any difference whether we do it today or tomorrow? How will the laws, regulations and the families change over the next several years? Should we just wait to see?
When it comes to succession planning, if you empathize with the above questions, you’re either unwarily complacent, naïve to the threats or comfortable in denial. Succession, passing your assets from one generation to the next, will happen whether you want it to or not. If you can’t take it with you into the afterlife, by definition it will stay here to be divided among your heirs.
Many may be uncomfortable with the blunt nature of this message. By intent, it’s a bit startling and in-your-face. To plan for succession is a choice. Nobody says you have to do it. There is no government department of succession planning, and most of your institutional alliances—banks, seed providers, equipment dealers, etc.—that may want you to have a plan, cannot enforce your compliance.
So what kind of encouragement do you need to engage in the process? Is a death in the farming community that leaves a family without a leader and a farm without an agripreneur enough? Or how about a nasty divorce that ravages the family and leaves the courts to decide who owns what? What about the farmer in the next county who’s worked a lifetime to build a nice operation yet, with age, he’s beginning to realize there is no successor?
The choice is yours and the time is now. Take control and plan the outcome you desire. No one likes to get to the end of a great show only to find that the director didn’t tell us how the story ends. Well, your life is the same. As you’re living the parts and fulfilling your dreams, remember that you control the outcome. Your legacy will be based on the decisions you make and the actions you take. Plan now to create a legacy that will endow your family for generations to come.

News & Resources for You:

Our Family Meeting Agenda Tool may help you map off effective discussion for your family.  

Procrastination ends now.  Take a moment to register for Farm Journal Legacy Project Workshops in Fargo, N.D., and Omaha, Neb., this July. 

Remember, the survival of your family farm (and the harmony of your family) rely upon strong communication.  

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The Actions of a Leader

May 22, 2012

 Daley, Dave

 From Legacy Moment (05/18/2012).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Being a leader is fraught with responsibility. It’s not just what you believe, rather what you do about those beliefs. For Dave Daley, the decision to eat beef, as he writes in the article linked below, was made long ago. The action he took in writing to Fox News is current, and a lot more risky. Daley is a cattleman (fifth generation), a doctor of animal science, professor, student adviser, husband and father of three.

Leadership is part and parcel of who he is, and action is his preferred method of communication. In reading the article, you feel his passion, you sense his abiding belief in his profession and you learn a bit about a man who willingly shares his values in the fight for right. The war over mind control has been waged since time immemorial. Given the respective powers of man, values will prevail over rules--like right over might--every time.
Daley’s points are well-articulated. He communicates without the low blows and untoward comments we’ve become accustomed to in the media. He speaks to the reader as an equal, assuming good judgment and morality. Daley invites discussion and encourages readers, consumers and activists to make the decisions necessary to align their actions with their values and not to impose on others.

A leader is something you are, not something you become.
Congratulations to the class of 2012, including my own daughter, Sara! The new crop of agricultural leaders coming out of America’s colleges and universities will help meet the growing needs of consumers.

News & Resources for You:

"Why I Choose to Eat Red Meat," from FoxNews.com (5/5/2012) by Dr. Dave Daley (Animal Scientist, California State University, Chico).

For more of Dr. Daley's insights, view his interview on 'Leave a Legacy' TV (March 2011).

"10 Lessons for Developing a Farm Successor to Manage and Lead," for the Farm Journal Legacy Project (07/2011) by Dr. Danny Klinefelter (Agricultural Economist, Texas A&M).

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An Open Letter to Mom

May 15, 2012

 Farm mom iStock compressedFrom Legacy Moment (05/11/2012).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Dear Mom,

You've taught me so much; how can I ever thank you? As a child you encouraged me to always do my best. You taught me that life isn’t about what you get, it’s about what you give. You taught me values, reminding me to stand up for what I believe in. And you showed me that personal connections—family, friends and colleagues—are more important than material possessions.

Though the words may vary, the language of motherhood is based on caring, kindness and love. In the following paragraphs, read what some real farm moms have to say about life, family and leaving a legacy. Learn more about these moms on "Leave a Legacy TV." Happy Mother’s Day.

On encouraging the next generation to pursue a career in farming, Mary Dye says, "If you have that mentoring mindset…encouraging them [her three daughters] to develop their skills and abilities and then leaving that option open, they’ll be successful in other pursuits if this doesn’t work out the way we planned."

Referring to the bonds of family, Deborah Rovey states, "The key is family. I think family first. And, you know, those ties run deep. And so that way you can get through the adversities that come along, because you are family and you’re gonna stay family forever."

Mary Mooney on what she values: "The land. Never give up the land. Land is wealth. That’s why we still have that ranch today. If any one of my family members comes to me and says, ‘I need to make money,’ like my son, I say, ‘You know what, there’s a ranch, there’s olives and there’s farmers markets. Have at it.’"

Farming’s not a simple life, but for Lauren Kerr, "It’s fun." She says, "I like to stay connected to it. And I think it’s important to show our kids it’s not just dads that work on a farm—everybody can."

We’re all going to leave a legacy. Mary Rickert says without hesitation, "My legacy? Well, I’d like to leave wherever I’ve lived a better place—that I’ve touched people and been a good influence. And hopefully inspired them a little bit to be a better person, and to be a kinder, gentler person—whether to each other or to the earth or to the cattle."

News & Resources for You:

Is your family ready to get started? Our Conversation Starters and Family Meeting Agenda tools may provide a starting point.

Let us know how we may help. We’re here to assist you in locating the resources you need as you consider next steps.

Follow our Legacy Project case study moms as, side-by-side with their families, they make progress toward their succession planning goals. 

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The Mentor

May 08, 2012


WisconsinFrom Legacy Moment (05/04/2012).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Many of you know my background. I was born and raised in Northern California. During summers as a teenager, I learned to milk cows on my uncle’s farm in Wisconsin. He’s long since passed, and the family’s no longer milking cows on that little dairy west of Milwaukee. Yet, Uncle Milton’s lessons are in my memory and in my heart.
He’s the reason I’m here today, reaching out to you in hopes that something I write, say or record will make an impression and help you to preserve, promote and pass your most precious resource on to a well-prepared next generation.
As a mentor, Uncle Milton taught me a lot. Much of his teaching reinforced common sense; some of it was about the obvious outcome for a given situation. But it’s the little gems, the insight from years of experience, which were the priceless nuggets a person can build a life on. He taught me:
• There is no substitute for hard work.
• Take pride in your operation, no matter how big or small.
• Trust Mother Nature, but anticipate the storm.
• Help your neighbor.
• Care for your family and be kind to yourself.
Through what turned out to be a scant few months over a lifetime, he gave me the greatest gift of all--the opportunity to taste the sunrise, touch nature, hear the swish of the blackbirds, smell fresh-cut hay, and know the security of hard work and self-reliance.

News & Resources for You:

Take steps to safeguard your family’s unique "golden goose." Make plans to attend a Legacy Project Workshop this July in Fargo, N.D., or Omaha, Neb.
The legacy of our next generation: Have you browsed through the gallery of Farm Kid photos on AgWeb? Guaranteed to make you smile.
Considering a transition to nonfamily? It will take patience and effort, but it can be done.
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Does Anyone Magically Become a Leader?

May 02, 2012


Rickert, James   on Legacy TVFrom Legacy Moment (04/27/2012).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

There’s no such thing as a "future" leader. A person doesn’t magically become a leader at some appointed time in the future, after attaining a certificate or earning a degree. There is no special potion or requisite level of achievement. Leadership is a skill/ability/trait that is exercised, practiced and developed over time.

Leadership skills can be learned, abilities will improve with practice and traits can be honed. The moniker of "leader" is demonstrated in action and tested in the pursuit of success. The more I learn about leadership development, and the more I take the time to watch some of our young agripreneurs grow, the more impressed I become.

James Rickert of the Prather Ranch is an excellent example. He is a budding agripreneur learning to assume a leadership role in an operation that has existed for most of 200 years. You may recall from "Leave a Legacy TV" that James, along with his parents, Jim and Mary, run a closed herd of cattle in the far reaches of Northern California.
Prather Ranch beef is natural and organic, and the byproducts from each carcass are used in the medical field. The following link is a presentation James made for a regional TED conference. In his presentation, this young leader explains the "Invisible Contract" which obligates each grower to consumers, and vice versa.
James, and many others like him, give me confidence in our future.
News & Resources for You:


Interested in learning more about the heritage of the Rickert family? Join Kevin on a virtual visit to Prather Ranch.
For more thoughts about transparency in agriculture, one of our strongest spokespersons is the legendary Temple Grandin. (Side note: The animal handling procedures at Prather Ranch are based on the guidelines of, and specific advice from, Dr. Grandin.)
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