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Preserve Your Farm, Then Pass it On

September 3, 2010
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
Preserve Your Farm, Then Pass it On
Kevin Spafford, left, succession planning expert for Farm Journal, visits with Art Schnuck, a farmer from Boonville Mo., during the Legacy Project workshop in Columbia, Mo.   

Most farmers want to keep their farms in the family. At least, that’s what succession planning expert Kevin Spafford hears over and over as he visits with farming families. Yet, in today’s world, that’s not an easy task.

Spafford encourages families to determine their goals and consciously work toward them.
He says a comprehensive succession plan is the key to achieving your goals.
“If you are dependent on your farmer’s operation’s success, it is your responsibility to initiate the process,” he says. “We have multimillion dollar operations depending on the decisions of the next generation.”
Here are some steps you can take with your family to complete your succession planning process:
____ Decide to secure your legacy.
____ Schedule a family meeting. Here’s a guide on how to organize and run your first “Family Meeting.”
____ Distribute “Conversation Starters
____ Define succession planning objectives
____ Identify a facilitator
____ Schedule a consulation
____ Refine goals
____ Seek commitment from family members: Fill out this “Commitment Agreement Form.”
____ Conduct research and define corrective actions
____ Business planning
____ Operation agreement
____ Employment policies
____ Other legal arrangements
____ Leadership development: See some “Leadership Development tools
____ Ownership transition
____ Financial security
____ Estate planning: See some “Estate Planning tools
____ Dispute resolution
____ Agree on an ongoing communication strategy to inform family
____ Bring in additional assistance as necessary
____ Review annually

You can learn more about succession planning by attending one of the Legacy Project Workshops.

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