This week hundreds of farmers will make their way to Chicago for the 2019 Top Producer Summit. During the first-of-its-kind summit, farmers attend the 2019 Legacy Project Conference, Executive Women in Agriculture Conference, Tomorrow’s Top Producer Conference and Top Producer Seminar. As part of the Legacy Project Conference, which kicked off on Monday, Rena Striegel of Transition Point Advisors is presenting a workshop on how to prepare the entire family for a transition of leadership.
“I think with anything, change is hard,” she says. “Sometimes when we're looking at successions, but particularly operations that have a younger generation that's ready to take the reins start making decisions and have a transitioning generation that may not quite be ready to turn in the keys to their combine.”
She says in most families there’s tension around the dynamics involved with succession.
“I'm going to be talking the folks that are here through some of the dynamics of the things to be mindful about and if they do find themselves in that tension spot,” she says adding that family dynamics begin developing the day you are born. “You've got relationships with your dad, your mom and your siblings and those play then into: ‘How do we operate now a business together? How do we identify who gets to be the leader who gets to make decisions?’ Sometimes we find those dynamics of the family really impact how we operate effectively together inside of the business.”
She recommends farmers attend meetings such as the Legacy Project Conference to help them develop new tools to navigate how to deal with those kinds of dynamics inhibiting the success of their operation.
Succession planning is as much a priority for farmers today as it was when farm income was much higher, she says.
“As the finances get tighter, cash flow gets tighter, and operations are really having to make some very big decisions about ‘How many families can we support legitimately?’” she says. “So we see families, even in these tough times, coming forward and saying, ‘We really need to invest in getting our transition plan put together,’ because sustainability is very important if we want the operation to go forward.”