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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.

Succession is for Good Times and Bad

Oct 21, 2013

Abandoned House   Microsoft clipart photoFrom Legacy Moment (10.18.2013).
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 Succession is as much about making something better as it is about dealing with the difficult. Back when I graduated from college, the farm crisis of the 1980s was in full swing. Nobody in or around agriculture thought it was a good idea for a young person to start a career in farming. That was then. Now as we continue to enjoy farming's economic heyday, some want to believe it's never going to end. But we all know it's bound to cycle; everything does.

Are you prepared for when it does? What have you done to make sure you can weather the downturn and survive through an economic winter? If you're one of those people who's convinced that this time it's different, or you're too young to remember, think again. I don't bring this up as a soothsayer of bad news; I merely broach the topic as a point of discussion and a warning to those who might think, 'not here, not now.'

For those who did survive the '80s, what kind of advice will you pass to this current generation of agripreneurs to help them endure? How should they prepare for a downturn? And what kind of opportunities should they anticipate in the adversity of leaner times?

Recently, I received the following comments from a Legacy Moment reader: "Are there many retired farmers who remember the Depression and were born and brought up during that era?"

He then went on to share a story from his past, writing, "I have many memories, being born in 1927. My dad bought our farm in 1912 for $145/acre and almost lost it, as so many did."

He closed by offering this quote from then-Senator Robert Taft Jr. of Ohio: "As agriculture goes, so goes the nation."

So, what are you doing to prepare? Do you disagree with my concerns about the future? Let me know by writing to "Ask Kevin."


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Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.
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