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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.

I Wish It Were That Simple!

Mar 19, 2013

Rear View Mirror   Prather RanchFrom Legacy Moment (03/15/2013).
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Planning for succession is more than a simple decision to transition the operation from one generation to the next. Among other things it will include a review of:

Threats to the operation.

Opportunities in the market.

Capabilities of the management team.

Potential commodities given a fixed set of resources.

In other words, compromise is necessary to realize your dreams. Succession may lead to new opportunities and different ways of looking at the business.

As to adversity, there is always opportunity in challenge. For the operation that masters the challenges of an 'unfarm friendly environment' for instance, look to the example of Prather Ranch. It is a closed-herd organic/natural cattle producer. There is no waste in a Prather Ranch cow; every by-product of meat production is used in the medical field ('Leave a Legacy' TV: Prather Ranch).

For goals that extend beyond the normal horizon, consider adding vertical or horizontal operations and extending locations beyond local, consider Black Gold. As a potato producer, Greg and his three children have their hands full with locations across eleven states. The challenge of managing this sizeable operation is offset by seasonal variation of planting/harvest, weather/natural environment and economic/business opportunities.

When your goals focus on preserving a farming legacy on family land, the operation may of necessity change to meet various pressures. Mooney Farms adapted not only to survive, but learned to thrive due to the challenges of farming a perishable small market crop. They transferred their experience in the market from fruit to sundried tomatoes and have grown a formidable operation.

These are just a few of the examples to help a family more clearly define their goals and might see a future beyond the immediate season. Most goals, especially the multifaceted goals encompassed in the succession planning process, will be achieved only by implementing a detailed plan for the future. In this latest round of Farm Journal Legacy Project Workshops, I often remind farm families that preserving the operation may require a different approach. Clearly defining your goals is the key to success.

News & Resources for You:

Identify specific goals, and then take the necessary action to move to the next step.

To nurture a planning culture in your children, be purposeful.

The Legacy Project Workbook is available for free download. There's no time like the present to take a first step. 

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 Photo provided courtesy of the Rickert Family - Prather Ranch
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