Farming Isn't a Gender-Based Occupation

Published on: 12:11PM Nov 25, 2013

Teen girls with calf   USDA NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (11.22.2013).
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"They acknowledge they have much to learn about crop production," Ching Lee writes in the article, "Sisters Return to Farm to Learn About Production," published in California Farm Bureau's Ag Alert. But that headline is an understatement that belies the real intent of these sisters—to one day take over the farm and continue the family legacy. It's the kind of story I hope becomes more common as planning for succession grows to be the norm rather than the exception.  

After graduating from college, both sisters went to work in ag-related occupations. They said it was this work experience outside the family farm that got them thinking about returning to continue the legacy. This oft-overlooked link is an important component of a comprehensive succession plan. It is best for children raised on the farm to gain experience off the farm working outside the family business.

The article also notes: "For her [Becky's] senior project at Cal Poly, she prepared a succession plan for her family, which involved meetings with her grandparents, father and uncle to talk about the future of the operation." If you're struggling with who should start the conversation, follow these sisters' lead: If you're interested in continuing the operation, it's your responsibility to initiate the succession planning process.

In discussing the continuing transition, one of the sisters is confident. "I know right now this is where I'm supposed to be," she says. "Without a doubt."

In reading this article, be mindful:

  • Don't assume your children aren't interested. Ask them all if they might want a career in farming.
  • Don't overlook or underestimate your daughter's interests or capabilities. Farming is a career founded in desire.
  • Don't dismiss or otherwise ignore your kids' inquires about what might happen to the farm and when.
  • Don't procrastinate. Planning is important. The farm will transition, but the question remains, how?
  • Don't let the little things become the big things and destroy everything!

As you anticipate the holiday season, now is the time to plan for the next generation of family farmers. Questions about succession? Contact me at Ask Kevin.

News & Resources for You:  

Your success depends on the quality and quantity of communication within the family. Get the conversation started!

When the family gathers at Thanksgiving, remember to make plans for the Legacy Project Workshops coming up in December.

Browse a full library of succession planning resources including articles, webinars and interactive tools at  

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 Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS