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May 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.

Hey Dad...

May 28, 2013

Nevada Pasture   NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (05/24/2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Beginning farmers under age 35 tend to operate larger farms than their older beginning farmer peers.  

The average age of a beginning farm operator in the U.S. was 49 years old in 2011, according to USDA. After reading "Younger Beginning Farmers Tend to Operate Larger Farms" by Mary Ahearn in Amber Waves, a person can't help but explore a few hypotheses.

According to the article, the beginning farmer group under 35 years old appears to be less risk-averse. They gross more farm sales, earn more on-farm income, earn less off the farm, and tend to operate profitable businesses. Though the information is encouraging, one can't help but wonder what we can learn from it that may apply to other beginning farm operators. Like anything else that measures averages, there's a below and an above, both of which are striving to improve.

So, are these young beginning farmers better than their older counterparts? Do they share some agripreneurial characteristics, skills or abilities that give them a leg up? Or, do many of them simply come from larger operations that might be more conducive to larger spin-offs? The answers to each of these questions may not be readily knowable or important. The difference may point to attributes we can all learn from, such as:

1. There is a risk-reward balance in every entrepreneurial venture—the bigger the risk, the greater the potential reward.

2. Earnings are based on effort, efficiency and time. Bigger operations demand and respond to increases in all three.

3. Young people seem to have high expectations that may demand and respond to farming as a profession, rather than a lifestyle or hobby.


News & Resources for You:

Read the statistics: "Younger Beginning Farmers Tend to Operate Larger Farms" (USDA Economic Research Service).

Never be afraid to color outside the lines! Your business plan should allow you to envision and then test your theories in writing.

eLegacyConnect is designed to help you define your succession planning goals, learn better communication skills, understand sound business practices and create a lasting legacy.


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 Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.

One Overwhelming Concern

May 22, 2013

Puzzle pieces   MicrosoftFrom Legacy Moment (05/17/2013).
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delivered via email each Friday.

For all of you who did, thank you for responding to last week's "Three Wishes." I sincerely enjoyed reading your feedback. However, due to the overwhelming response, it might take a while for me to get back to you.

One of the comments I received reminded me that maybe I haven't been clear about the science and art of succession planning. The process is a balance of both, though succession planning is more art than science.

The rudiments of succession planning are founded in the sciences of tax planning, financial security and legal documentation; no small feat, yet simple compared to the emotional issues. Consider the task of bringing people together to discuss money, careers/jobs, compensation, boss/subordinate, duties/responsibilities/accountability, fairness, family, etc. It's all emotion, and no one wants to go down that track unless they have some reassurance that the journey is going to be satisfying and successful.

That's where the art comes in. Starting with a defined set of shared goals and then building specific plans to help a family achieve the objectives related to operational integrity, financial security and leadership development will take the right combination of art and science.

Though not every situation is obviously or immediately solvable, there are an infinite number of solutions to the succession planning puzzle. The good news is, it's up to you.

So, what's your biggest challenge—that overwhelming concern that seems to stop you before you start? Don't concern yourself with spelling, grammar and punctuation. Your responses will not be published. Please feel comfortable writing directly to me at 'Ask Kevin.'


News & Resources for You:

"When is the right time to start succession planning?" "What if our family can't see eye-to-eye about our goals?" These questions and more are addressed in the Legacy Project's FAQs.  

Didn't find the answer you need? We're here to help.

As a complement to the Farm Journal Legacy Project, eLegacyConnect engages and encourages farm families through vital succession planning resources. Use your Farm Journal Membership Code (FAMILY) to access your 14-day free trial. 

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Three Wishes

May 14, 2013

WishesFrom Legacy Moment (05/10/2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

In the interest of making sure we're providing the information, tools and resources you need to achieve your legacy dreams, if I could grant you three wishes, what would you say?  

Please take a few moments to send me a message through "Ask Kevin" on the Farm Journal Legacy Project website. In the comments section, write your three wishes. I know you're busy, so feel free to keep it brief. Just provide enough detail to help me understand your desires. Don't concern yourself with grammar, spelling or punctuation; your comments will not be published.

Thank you in advance; I sincerely appreciate your input. Your comments will help shape the resources and experiences we provide through the Legacy Project in the years to come.  

News & Resources for You: 

"Ask Kevin" is available here. Please be generous with your thoughts; your concerns are no doubt shared by other families in the ag community.

Registration is now open for July's Legacy Project Workshops! We hope to see you in Wichita, Kan. (July 22), Columbia, Mo. (July 24), or Evansville, Ind. (July 26). Click any link for details or to register.

FarmPartner is a new go-to source for matching aspiring farmers with transitioning farmers for jobs, career opportunities and ownership positions. As part of eLegacyConnect (and designed to complement the Farm Journal Legacy Project), you'll also find many of the tools necessary to create long-term working relationships and plan for succession. Take a look now (use membership code FAMILY for a 14-day Farm Journal trial). 

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Rural by Choice

May 06, 2013

PA Farm   USDA ARSFrom Legacy Moment (05/03/2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Freedom to choose can be an intimidating and uncomfortable responsibility. Some young Americans choose to live in a farming community and raise their families in a rural lifestyle. This particular group came to my attention via the headline, "Kansas Group Tries to Reverse Exodus of Young from Rural America."

For anyone who's been paying attention to "Legacy Moment" of late, you might recognize this recurring theme. Young people want to settle in our rural towns, and in most communities, these folks are welcomed with open arms. Not only are there wide open spaces and room to roam, the map dots across the country might be ripe with opportunity for an agribusiness owner and/or a local merchant.

The Kansas group is a community of like-minded young people who founded, "PowerUps," a social and business network that touts rural life for the under-40 crowd and lets them know they are not alone. It was founded about 2-1/2 years ago by Marci Penner, a resident in central Kansas. The website for the movement, aptly titled ruralbychoice.com, features a calendar of events, blogs posts by various members and tidbits for the curious about life in a small town.

Like my previous mentions here, the article reinforces that: "Technology allows companies to operate virtually anywhere. This works in favor of small towns, which also have the advantage of lower costs." It goes on to tout the "moral competitive advantage for companies in small towns that employ young people with rural backgrounds." It mentions their, "...amazing work ethic and strong values."

As the U.S. economy continues to struggle and people look for alternatives to the big city and corporate life, don't overlook the opportunities on the "next frontier." Check out these early pioneers and acknowledge that you're in good company. The article points out, "a lot of young people are looking for jobs that will bring them closer to their rural roots." For some it's farming, for others it's a cheese processing facility, a slaughterhouse/butcher shop, an equipment dealership or an implement manufacturing enterprise.

No matter what, there's a welcome sign and plenty of opportunity for those who choose freedom and welcome the responsibility.

News & Resources for You: 

Rural by Choice...is this a good option for your family?

AFBF's Rural Community Building offers a depth of information about growth in the nation's heartland.

As a complement to the Farm Journal Legacy Project, eLegacyConnect engages and encourages farm families through vital succession planning resources.

  eNewsletter Sign Up Legacy Pioneer DuPont Attribution 2012
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 Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.
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