Apr 20, 2014
Home| Tools| Blogs| Discussions| Sign UpLogin

January 2013 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.

Farming Opportunities and Lifestyle Choices

Jan 29, 2013


iStock Crops and CloudsFrom Legacy Moment (01/25/2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

What might be misinterpreted as criticism is really intended as a wake-up call. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently said that 'Rural America, with a shrinking population, is becoming less and less relevant..." This warning from an informed government official might be disconcerting, especially given that he represents you, your industry and your livelihood. But in this case, he was specifically referring to political sway with government programs.
He suggests (and I agree) that, "We need a proactive message, not a reactive message." Continuing on, he poses a good question: "How are you going to encourage young people to want to be involved in rural America or farming if you don't have a proactive message?" But given the reality of the situation, the question should be rephrased. In my experience, it's not a matter of encouraging young people, but of giving them the things they need to succeed.
The young people I know are motivated and preparing to assume leadership roles on farms and in rural communities across the U.S. Our challenge is establishing the right tools and assembling adequate resources to create the paths for those who will follow. Though big and imposing, the government does not source solutions. We as citizens, business owners and community leaders can make a difference.
As I've mentioned before, rural America is the "next frontier." It is a place of great opportunity. Consumers are demanding a different relationship with their food and food providers. They want to know where it comes from, who produces it and how it's grown. They want food sources that provide healthy choices for all. As awareness grows and demands increase, local foods might comprise a significant proportion of our diet. That demand represents farming opportunities for aspiring agripreneurs and rural lifestyle choices for young families.
News & Resources for You:
"As more move to the city, does rural America still matter?" (from USA Today, Jan. 13, 2013)
Find your best fit in the farming community.
In designing your business plan, be sure to consider potential strengths and weaknesses. 
  eNewsletter Sign Up Legacy Pioneer DuPont Attribution 2012
FaceBook Logo

Where Do I Fit In?

Jan 22, 2013

Cows and Barn   Clip Art PhotoFrom Legacy Moment (01/18/2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.



Coming from the backdrop of big conventional agriculture, a person might wonder, Is there a real and sustaining demand for organic/natural/locally produced food? Parallel to that thought is, If the demand is real, should a producer explore the opportunities that market might provide?  

Like clothing fashions and car styles, trends come and go based on pricing, availability, substitutes, health benefits and any number of other factors. Some might dismiss organic/natural/local as a fad that will fade as soon as prices outpace demand and substitute products become more prevalent.
From a producer's perspective, however, especially for a young, beginning farmer, this trend might provide an opportunity unlike anything we've seen in recent history. Consumers care about where their food comes from, they want a relationship with the grower, and they are interested in the health benefits of the latest in slow food. Today's informed consumers want to feel they're making a wise buying decision and providing the best nutrition to the family their dollar will buy.
The savvy agripreneur looks for ways to capitalize on that demand—not as a marketing ploy, but rather as a method to build a profitable business based on a value proposition that is not predicated on thinning margins and economies of scale.
Recently, Dairy Today posted an article on Organic Valley, the nation's largest cooperative of organic farmers. In the report, we learn that Organic Valley posted 20% growth in 2012, an amazing number given its 25-year history and this year's devastating drought. From sales of $715 million in 2011 to $860 million in 2012, this farmer-owned co-op has tapped a vein of demand, yet is capturing only a tiny share of the $30 billion organic market.
Are you that agripreneur who looks out over the industry landscape at rising land prices and thinning margins and wonders, Where do I fit in? How about right here? If dairy isn't your thing, there are any number of other products and services that touch the organic/natural/local market with a crop that serves the lifestyle choice of many consumers. $30 billion with a 10% annual growth rate? You do the math.
If your burning desire is to become a professional farmer, what's your value proposition?

News & Resources for You:

Designing a business should be one of the most exciting activities in the life of an agripreneur.
Read more about Organic Valley's growth.
Event update! Registration is now open for upcoming Legacy Project Workshops in March. We're coming to Ames, IA on March 6; Dubuque, IA on March 8; Mankato, MN on March 13; and Sioux Falls, SD on March 15.
  eNewsletter Sign Up Legacy Pioneer DuPont Attribution 2012
FaceBook Logo

It's a Simple Rule of Business

Jan 15, 2013


Sheep Farmer   USDA ARSFrom Legacy Moment (01/11/2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Like an old adage, business principles apply whether you run the corner hair salon, own the Olde Towne Butcher Shoppe or manage the family farm. As with values, principles are timeless and never go out of fashion. You learn business principles by repetition. Experience is a good teacher, and repeated mistakes become the reinforcer. Classrooms are a good place to learn theory, and mentors help us to learn the everlasting keys to business success.
In visiting with young aspiring farmers and ambitious next generations, the conversation always comes around to, "How do I convince my parents to make me a part of the operation? I've told them I'm ready. I work really hard and they still won't budge." These discussions are so often "me" focused that most participants don't hear the words they're using. A person should always keep in mind the other participant's point of view and imagine his or her background.
The senior and middle generations might understand, overtly or covertly, that you add partners, members and/or additional owners only when they bring something (money, talent, capabilities, relationships, experiences, etc.) that isn't currently available on the management team and cannot be replicated economically. This principle is good management. It makes sense both academically and practically. From an arm's-length, outside perspective, everyone agrees.
So, back to the problem at hand: As a young, aspiring farmer, how do you let them know you're ready?
Might I suggest you apply the same principle?
Demonstrate, through actions, experiences, education and desire that you bring something that is not currently available on the management team. What capabilities, relationships, concepts or business arrangements do you bring to the operation that are not readily available otherwise? The answers are not as difficult as they might seem. Take a close look at your resumé. Do you possess the skills and abilities necessary to make a meaningful contribution to the operation? Have you created a business plan that will help grow the business and expand opportunity for everyone?
Taking a different point of view and applying effective business principles will help everyone who is active and dependent upon the operation to make betterchoices—and that's a good thing.
News & Resources for You:
Because the family farm represents opportunity and legacy, careful consideration is essential before initiating a transition.
To prepare yourself for leadership, candidly assess your own skills, strengths and areas for growth.
A forward-thinking 12-year-old considers how he might prepare himself to take the reins of the family ranch.
  eNewsletter Sign Up Legacy Pioneer DuPont Attribution 2012
FaceBook Logo
Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.

Don't Fret About Resolutions; Take Action!

Jan 09, 2013


Stream   NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (01/04/2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.


If you're like most, the new year's resolution you made at the beginning of the week is quickly becoming a distant memory. Waylaid by real life, pressing responsibilities and crisis moments, our best intentions can become the seeds of our greatest guilt. But we don't have time for that, either...
Decide now to make this the year of legacy. It starts with a commitment. Simply stating what you want to accomplish, by a specific date, is enough to get the ball rolling. Following through and taking the next steps will make all the difference.
Start here:
1. Call a family meeting.
2. Write an agenda.
3. Discuss your cares and your concerns.
4. Ask others to weigh in.
5. Settle on a next step—and commit to continue until you have a plan that will help you achieve your dreams and leave a lasting legacy.
If you're not ready, or perhaps are beyond these initial steps, attend a workshop, engage an adviser to help you through the process, or dig into the Legacy Project website. It's laid out with you in mind. Whatever you do, don't fret about resolutions. Instead, take action.

News & Resources for You:

Our FAQs might help determine how, when and why to initiate your family's transition.
10 questions to consider as you begin the conversation.
Our Succession Planning Action Guide will help keep you on track.

Note: The 2013 schedule for Legacy Project Workshops will be announced soon!

   eNewsletter Sign Up Legacy Pioneer DuPont Attribution 2012

FaceBook Logo
 Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS

The Next Frontier

Jan 02, 2013

 Historic DC    NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (12/28/2012).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Help me imagine the next frontier. We all know how America was settled—east to west: first the explorers, then the hunters, followed by the pioneers who founded the settlements, which developed into small towns that eventually became the cities. In the last rush, some traded rural life for urban convenience.

I think we're on the verge of a renaissance—a new frontier, if you will. This frontier is defined by possibility and the growing demand for certain qualities that, until recently, have largely been devalued. Consider the social, economic and agrarian opportunities that might be available across the small towns and agricultural centers that dot the landscape.

As we envision the next generation of professional farmers and ranchers, might there be unforeseen advantages to resettling the small towns and creating unique business offerings that complement a rural lifestyle? As we consider agricultural opportunities, are there certain products and services that might be more effectively addressed from a local farming operation?

There are many ways to create a viable agricultural operation. From farming methods to crop selection, from large-scale operations to agritourism ventures, the perfect opportunity is limited only by the imagination of a well-prepared agripreneur. Rather than feel like it has to meet some standard definition of viable, use your creativity to design an operation that fits your ideal.

Just maybe, we'll once again head for the "next frontier" to create something better than past generations ever dreamed possible.

News & Resources for You:

This young dairy couple has found a rewarding way to maintain their rural lifestyle while drawing upon the resources of a nearby city.

In this 2011 episode of "Leave a Legacy TV," meet a thriving farmer who declares, "Now the city has encompassed us...which presents some challenges, but it also presents some future opportunities."

Ready to create your dream farm in 2013?  

  eNewsletter Sign Up Legacy Pioneer DuPont Attribution 2012
FaceBook Logo
Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS
Log In or Sign Up to comment


Receive the latest news, information and commentary customized for you. Sign up to receive Top Producer's eNewsletter today!

The Home Page of Agriculture
© 2014 Farm Journal, Inc. All Rights Reserved|Web site design and development by AmericanEagle.com|Site Map|Privacy Policy|Terms & Conditions