Leave a Legacy
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.
Dec 11, 2012
From Legacy Moment (12/07/2012).
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A couple months ago, I clipped an article, The Ultimate Growth Business, out of the Wall Street Journal. The layout was complete with photos of a couple greenhorn farmers. What caught my attention was not the pictures but rather the title, which reads, "How do they make the transition?" Good information and encouragement can come from the most surprising places.
We're often contacted by aspiring farmers who are intent on a career in agriculture, but they don't know where to start or how to make the transition. Recently, my son expressed an interest and challenged me to help him establish a farm/ranch enterprise. As our discussion developed, we agreed to research a couple of niche markets that address consumer demands for local, natural and healthy fare.
Since we don't live on a farm and don't have land, we're either at a distinct advantage or disadvantage, depending on your perspective. We're completely flexible and able to go anywhere. We don't have any preconceived ideas about what should or shouldn't be, but we also lack experience and don't have a family farm to fall back on.
Whether an operation will actually be established is yet unknown. However, we started right where I'd recommend anyone else start:
1. Research and learn everything you can about food trends and consumer demands.
2. Select a few of the most intriguing food products and visit with experts—from current growers to wholesalers/processors and from consumers to co-ops.
3. Begin gathering information for a business plan. Besides a great idea and a lot of ambition, the banker will want to see a detailed pro-forma.
These initial activities will help the aspiring farmer decide if he/she is on the right track. I'll continue to provide progress reports from our experience as my son and I explore our common interests.
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Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.