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June 2013 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.

Do You Concur?

Jun 25, 2013

Dye Family   historicFrom Legacy Moment (04/04/2013).
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Mary's insight comes from the heart. She realizes their daughters' future opportunities are based on the decisions that she and her husband, Roger, make in planning for succession. She tries desperately to explain and struggles for just the right words, then says, "It is also our behaviors and diligence to the business decisions that will ultimately leave a vibrant farm to our children and their families."

"Thanks to our work with Legacy [the Farm Journal Legacy Project and Legacy by Design], Mary concludes, "we now have long-term goals and components of a realistic plan."

What about you? Once you promise to plan for succession, everything changes. The Miracle of Commitment has an effect on the entire family. It influences conversations around the dinner table, decisions around the board room and next steps in farming operations.

Succession is a clear message from the present to the future that we plan to be farming for generations to come. Mary and Roger's children are in their early and pre-teens. Involving the kids, even at a young age, sends an excellent message and invites them to prepare for a role in the operation.

Begin today. It starts when you say, "I will."

News & Resources for You: 

The Miracle of Commitment is a giant leap toward multigenerational success.

Need information and tools to get you started?  Register for an upcoming workshop.

To keep the farm in the family, eLegacyConnect lets you plan at your own pace.

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 Photo courtesy of the Dye Family.

Is Succession Planning Really Worth the Effort?

Jun 18, 2013

iStock Crops and CloudsFrom Legacy Moment (06/14/2013).
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Through comprehensive long-term planning, your family has much to gain....



  • A complete ownership transition strategy. Passing management and, if applicable, ownership of the operation to a well-prepared next generation.
  • Financial security for each family member who is dependent on the operation.
  • Leadership development plan for each family member involved in managing the operation. This is a constant theme in the succession process. Grandparents and parents alike should acknowledge that the roles and responsibilities for a young farmer are very different from what they were "back in the day."



  • Better communication.
  • More clear understanding of the situation and the decisions needed to ensure the farming operation continues.
  • Preservation of the family legacy—not as a museum piece, but as growing tribute to a proud heritage.
  • Continuing career opportunities, intrinsic security and mentor-protégé relationships.
  • A path to the future.

Comparable costs for failing to plan...


  • Transition by luck and by golly...maybe it'll happen, and then again, maybe it won't.
  • Financial resources will be available for at least as long as you're able to work.
  • The operation continues based on the true grit of the current and next generation. Do they have what it takes?



  • Deteriorating accord and weakened aplomb, as lack of communication breeds jealousy.
  • Dissension in the family as the situation becomes more hopeless and each individual focuses on their own needs.
  • A wedge of discontent divides the family into factions of haves and have-nots.
  • The family fragments as each person pursues a career off the farm.
  • Another American family whose common denominator is little more than a last name.


Weigh the differences. It's really a simple choice. Put it off and hope for the best. Or, grit your teeth, engage in the process, commit to success and work through a plan to achieve goals that make your family proud and stand as a lasting legacy, a testament to your life's work.

News & Resources for You:


When you're ready, check out eLegacyConnect. It contains an action plan, tools to help you plan for succession and a library of planning resources.

Or, attend Legacy Project Workshop.

Or, Ask Kevin. 

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Confronting the Business of Family

Jun 11, 2013

Couple Walking   Ohio   USDA NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (04/04/2013).
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delivered via email each Friday.

Are you avoiding succession planning to avoid confrontation?

There are a number of conflicts and emotional issues that can exist in a family business. Most are the result of the overlapping concerns between business decisions and family matters. The succession planning process brings these problems to the surface and might fester to cause conflict and emotional upset. Parents should be aware of the following circumstances where concerns arise:

1. Unqualified Children: Too many owners don't or won't recognize the lack of aptitude or attitude for running the family business. We often find them in a comfortable state of denial, desperately boasting of their child[ren]'s capabilities while ignoring the obvious.

2. Not Evaluating Children Based on Merits: All too often parents strive to treat their children equally regardless of abilities and skills. Certain children are expected to become a part of the family business regardless of their level of preparation and their performance in the workplace.

3. Unwillingness to Choose Among Children: Parents are reluctant to choose among the children. To resolve leadership issues, they evenly split duties, pay and perks among the next generation, effectively hoping the business will survive under the command of a committee.

4. Encouraging Competition Among Siblings: Children often are pitted against one another, playing favorites and causing dissension among family members. To an extent, sibling rivalries are expected and unavoidable; unfortunately, these jealousies are unnecessary and unproductive.

5. Dividing Wealth Equally Among Children: Parents too often attempt to treat their children "the same" by equally dividing their wealth, which might be OK in a nonfamily business household. When the bulk of the estate is a family-owned business, it is inappropriate to divide equally among active and inactive children and/or allow inactive family members to exercise management decisions.

Identifying the issues is the easy part. Resolving them, creating a plan that allows the business to grow and the family to thrive is the difficult, yet intended outcome. To achieve your goals and plan for success, follow a defined planning process. Know that issues exist, confront them and develop solutions that respect the integrity of the business while dealing with family matters separately.

News & Resources for You:

Maybe "fair vs. equal" is really just sibling rivalry.

The weeks fly by. Don't forget to enroll your family in the upcoming Legacy Project Workshops! July opportunities are in Wichita, Kan.; Columbia, Mo.; and Evansville, Ind.

Ready to begin the succession planning process? Take our free online assessment (no login required). 

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 Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.

'Local' Isn't Far Away

Jun 04, 2013

Farm Gate   From Legacy Moment (05/31/2013).
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The local food movement is here to stay and getting bigger. Chicago "is about to roll out a new local food label designed to support the city's burgeoning urban farming movement," writes Lori Rotenberk in an article, aptly titled, "Local Food—Put a Sticker On It!" The idea, beyond raising awareness of locally grown food, is to "increase demand for foods grown through urban agriculture and celebrate that so many people are growing food within Chicago," as reports Megan Klein from the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council.

The article goes on to site similar programs in Birkshire County and Nantucket Island, Mass.; Ashville, N.C.; and "From the Land of Kansas." This is a trend that might continue for years to come as farmers and marketers alike work to satisfy consumer demands. All of this points to even more growing opportunities—pun intended—for farmers far and wide, large and small, young and old.

News & Resources for You:

Local Food—Put a Stick on It! (Grist.org)

Become a "From the Land of Kansas" member or partner. (Kansas Department of Agriculture) 

When it comes to your succession plan, who better to control the outcome than you?

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