Saving The Family Farm - Succession Planning

The farm has been in your family for generations and it’s time to prepare for the next generation to take over. Some of the kids may not be interested, and others may think the farm is their God-given right. But unless everyone knows where the farm is now, where it’s going and how it’s going to get there, nobody will be happy in the end.

Andy Junkin is a farmer, mediator, and coach for farm families. He says succession planning is really strategic planning, but most people don’t think of it that way. It starts with the family coming together as a team to hash everything out before any estate plan is drawn up. Done right, you’ll be passing on more than just assets.

"Identify a new way to improve farm profitability and everybody learns. The son or daughter learns why parents did things in the past, and to me that’s more important to transfer that wisdom before you transfer the assets," says Junkin. "Any fool can give a son a tractor, very few farmers are successful in teaching their kids how to make the tractor pay."

Instead of doing succession in a day seminar, Junkin works with the family farm over two-years to first make sure the family has a groomed successor before discussing who gets what. His emphasis is on the transfer of management first, before talking about the transfer of assets.

"Until your family can sit down and squeeze out 10% profitability, you don’t as a family have the skills to be able to have strategic-level discussions. And more importantly, you really don’t have a successor," he says. "How many times do you see a farm given to a son, and they just drive the farm into the ground because they go and do the exact opposite of what their dad said no to when they were farming."

 Hear more of how Andy helps farm families work together by listening to my podcast with him