Managing resources, raising quality cattle and successfully passing the family ranch onto the next generation is a goal that most beef producers have in mind. During the National Cattlemen's Beef Association’s Cattlemen’s College a panel discussion was given by cattlemen who shared their thoughts on "What Were the Smartest Things Our Families Did to Maintain Ranch Profitability, Sustainability and Family Values?"
Jonny Harris runs his family farm, Greenview Farms, a Hereford and Braford operation in Georgia. Harris did not inherit the entire farm; he had to buy much of it back from relatives. Here are some of the insights that Harris had to offer:
- Harris' grandfather had over 100 employees. He now runs more land with only 3 employees and he credits it to technology.
- "The lifestyle we live is sustainable. We've been farming the same land for 150 years."
- Harris recommends hiring an estate planner.
- "It is important to revisit estate planning every 3 to 5 years because laws change and family goals change."
Jim Hagenbarth is a rancher from Dillon, Mont. He started running the family ranch at 21 with his brother who was 23 at the time. These are some of the take-home messages that Hagenbarth offered:
- Hagenbarth and his brother agreed that they would not let the ranch break up the family. If it did they would sell.
- "Families need to give the next generation the tools and education to run a business (the family ranch)."
- "Education and business savoy are very important for young producers."
- "It is important to designate one person in the family to focus on estate planning."
- "Succession and planning are much more important than the estate tax."
- "It is important when you build a farm that you do it on the fringes of the ranch in case someone leaves."
- Management of time is huge in maintaining relationships in the family.
Rooter Brite runs the J.A. Ranch near Bowie, Texas. His ranch is just off of a major highway that is approximately 60 miles from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, making expansion of the ranch difficult because of inflated land prices. Brite elightened the crowd with his point-of-view on succesfully making the tranistion to the next ranching generation:
- "Long-term success in managing an operation is maintaining the land and the forage."
- "It is a rarity for people in agriculture to be heavy in cash. They have land, animals, and equipment."
- "If you've got a number of children it (estate planning) makes it more difficult."
- "Everything doesn't have to be equal (in estate planning), but it does have to fair."
- "If you love what you're doing then it isn't work."