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March 2011 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.

A Leader Among Legends

Mar 23, 2011

Larson, Carl   equipmentFrom Legacy Moment eNewsletter (03/18/2011)
Please join us for future issues, delivered via email each Friday.

Legends of Leadership from "Leave a Legacy TV" allows me untold opportunities to learn from leaders in our industry. In October 2010, I had the opportunity to visit with Carl and Ellen Larson of Fullerton, N. D. Please enjoy the following excerpts from Carl's legends interview.
On developing his sons for leadership: “Starting kids out with responsibilities at an early age helped them grow. When they were in the field doing something, they had to look beyond the stones they were picking up or the field they were cultivating. They had to understand that an investment was being made. They were taught to ask, ‘How is it going to generate results? What’s the payback?' Now they don’t do anything without looking at return.”
On adopting the latest technology: “I’m an early-adapter, so the Internet has become second nature. I got my first computer in 1983. That weekend we had a three-day blizzard here on the farm, so what did I do? I learned how to run a spreadsheet. I don’t know how many I’ve done since, but I know it’s amounted to a significant return for our organizations.”
On maximizing opportunities: “First, I would advise you to surround yourself with people who are like yourself. Mix with successful people, get involved with them. Keep in mind that the venture you sought out may lead to something a whole lot better. There are always opportunities beyond the initial opportunity--they just keep turning up.”
On challenges: “I don’t walk away from challenges. I love a challenge. Getting up in the morning is difficult if you don’t have a goal. I look for opportunities to work on new ventures, expand an existing business and/or work with people who are motivated to create something new.” 
News & Resources for You
At an age when some people begin to think about slowing down, Carl Larson is business-focused. He joined us for the December episode of "Leave a Legacy TV".
Need help working with the next generation? Download our Leadership Skills Inventory.
Missed the March workshops? Catch us this August in Illinois and Ohio.
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Does Experience Matter?

Mar 15, 2011

Corn Seedling CompressedFrom Legacy Moment eNewsletter (03/11/2011)
Please join us for future issues, delivered via email each Friday

The other day I happened across a 2007 article from Amber Waves, the USDA magazine. It referred to the ‘turnover rate’ in farming---the number of farms going out of business, versus the number of farming startups.
The title of the article, “Experience Counts: Farm Business Survival in the U.S.”, hints at the theme. From the article: “The total number of U.S. farms has changed little in recent years. High exit rates are offset by high rates of entry into farming. There is no apparent shortage of people willing to try farming, but the challenge is in creating a viable farm business.
"Many pre-harvest crop decisions (such as the timing and extent of soil preparation, seeding, and pest management) vary with local soil and weather conditions, and operators often learn through trial and error as much as through training, extension services, 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.”
The reasons for comprehensive succession planning are many. The demand for good planning models, relevant tools and good information is almost overwhelming. As the article attests, business age, not just operator age and experience, make a difference in operational success. The family farm is facing a multitude of external challenges, from economies of scale to consumer trends, from technology to misinformed special interests. Not only must we be diligent about addressing these external challenges, we must face the internal threats, insufficient planning (or – in many cases – none at all), and failure to prepare the next generation.
Is 2011 your year to begin the process? Commit today to take the steps necessary to save your family farm. Plan now to preserve, promote and pass your family farm to a well-prepared next generation.

News & Resources for You

NealsSlideFarm Journal Legacy Project Wins Coveted Grand Neal Award.

The Legacy Project helps farm families find solutions.  How may we help you?

Use our Succession Planning Action Guide to monitor your progress.

Misssed some episodes of 'Leave a Legacy?  Catch up online anytime! 

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A Chip Off the Old Block

Mar 09, 2011

Black Gold   AerialFrom Legacy Moment eNewsletter (03/04/2011)
Please join us for future issues, delivered via email each Friday

The Legacy Project has brought me face-to-face with some of the greatest ag leaders and trendsetters of our time. Gregg Halverson, of Black Gold (premier potato grower in Grand Forks, N.D.), is a fitting example. Through a series of conversations over a couple of days, I had the privilege to learn a bit about Gregg and the motivation behind Black Gold. Following are a few excerpts from those conversations.
Kevin: Gregg, how do you define success?
Gregg: There are many different definitions for success… Number one, leaving the planet in a little better shape than it was when I came in. Number two, I’ve got three examples – John, Eric, and Leah – my three kids… If I can help them to be good citizens, good stewards and, of course a dad’s dream is always to have the kids follow in his footsteps.
Kevin: Do you have a professional development plan yourself?
Gregg: Yes, and a succession plan, which we work on annually---it’s a plan that evolves. Every year we meet and we talk about it, there’s always something that changes---and I think change is good. We like to think we’re immortal until something happens. Things change, the industry changes, our families change. There are all kinds of dynamics at work, and that’s all good. We have to be smart stewards and adjust our plans accordingly.
Kevin: Is biggest always best?
Gregg: Oh, no. Biggest is not always best, for a lot of reasons. I think it’s important to have a plan of where you’re going; efficiency is much more important than size. Our model is one economists would call a replication strategy. We have chosen to be as efficient as we can be in given areas within our industry. And it’s interesting because there was a time when we were confused about bigness. How is bigness measured? Is it acres or number of farms or states we farm in or gross income or employees…? Based on that, we decided it’s about efficiency and serving the customer. That’s much more important than size.
Kevin: What advice would you give a young aspiring agripreneur?
Gregg: The advice that I would give a young aspiring ag entrepreneur would be to come to work for Black Gold. ‘Cause I’d try to hire ‘em. Really, if it were an individual that would work in our system, I would try to hire him or her. On the other hand, if I couldn’t hire him, if he had some other opportunities and things he or she wanted to do, I would say, first get an education. I would say work hard, there’s nothing else like hard work to earn the respect of others--which gives you leadership opportunities and so forth.
News & Resources for You

Young producers are optimistic about the future and their leadership roles on the farm.

Watch the ‘Leave a Legacy TV’ episode featuring Gregg Halverson and Black Gold (November 2010)

What about your family – are you Ready for Succession?

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