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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.

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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