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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.

Only the Contour of the Land Remains the Same

Aug 06, 2013

Harvesting hay   contour strips   WI   USDA NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (08.02.2013).
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... and even that's changing.  

Beyond driving a tractor, you learned about persistence and perseverance at the knee of a hard-working adult. An ability to adapt can be the difference between survival and extinction. If you're part of the younger generation, you might remember hearing murmured conversations over which bills to pay as your family weathered the farm disaster of the '80s. Or you might recall how the farm was managed when your grandparents still made all the decisions. Although some things might ring familiar, a lot has changed.

If you're in the middle or senior generation, no one has to remind you how much is different from the way it used to be. Market dynamics, farming practices, land values, consumer demands and technology are among the factors that both offer opportunity and test your ability to adapt. Generational transition can be a challenge on the road to multigenerational success. And, yet again, your ability to adjust and flex with the demands of the process will play a direct role in your results. As Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence) likes to say, "There are only two kinds, the quick and the dead."

If you're dependent on the success of the operation, it's your responsibility to initiate the succession planning discussion. No matter which rung on the generation ladder you hold, it's in your best interest to start the process and enlist others in your family. I recommend you use tractor time soon to think about how and when you'll enlist the rest of the family to participate in succession planning. Remember, the keys to success are:

1. Start with a family meeting.
2. Define common goals.
3. Overcome the obstacles that most families must face.
4. Utilize a defined planning process.
5. Commit to continuing the process—no matter how much you're require to adapt.

The future of the farm and your family depend on your effort.  

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