We received the following letter from a dairy farmer after reading Dr. Charles Gardner’s article, “They deserve to know the business plan.” Originally sent as a handwritten letter, we called and conversed with this passionate, hard-working dairyman to verify the story. He shares this message with others to encourage families to have important conversations.

In order that this story be about the big picture, we have removed the name, city, and state. We hope all dairy farm families take this to heart.

— Corey A. Geiger, Managing Editor

I am glad Dr. Charles Gardner shined a light on a large problem in the small business world and the farming community in his September 25, page 591, article, “They deserve to know the family’s business plan.”

I myself had worked for no pay for years, and I have tax returns to prove it. Then my dad gave me, in writing, his intentions to see the farm (business) go to my wife and me. Cattle and machinery were appraised and a payment schedule set. My wife, a college graduate and schoolteacher, and I took this plan and went with it.

Boom!

Five years into a 13-year plan my dad took his life. After the funeral, we continued paying my mother for buildings, blacktopping the driveway, paying insurance and taxes — also while paying rent and the mortgage on schedule. This totals some $1.4 million in financial outlays.

Today, I am now approaching my mid-50s with three siblings. All left the farm by age 20 and never looked back. They never helped with hay planting or a single harvest. One did take two building lots totaling 10 acres from the farm.

We now find out a sister had my dad put the farm in a trust at the time of his death. My mother won’t talk about any of this.

So, as it stands now, my wife, kids, and I are to get the neighboring farm . . . 85 acres and a presently rented out house, which we already paid most all the mortgage on. One sibling is totally behind my family getting the homestead with its 136 acres, dairy farm, hay storage, and so forth. The other two say . . . oh well, too bad for you as they stand to get it all. Yes, the farm has helped raise two well-adjusted, successful kids for my wife and me, but they have no chance to continue to pass it on.

Sad.

Please, if you are a parent, child, sibling, or innocent onlooker, promote the golden rule — Do unto others . . . Have everyone included in all decisions. No secrets. My final thought . . . Your daily activity is your legacy — not how much time or money you put into the church collection plate.

To read the pair of Charles Gardner’s articles that encouraged this dairyman to write this letter, click on the pair of PDFs.

PDF: They deserve to know the family's business plan
PDF: The younger generation may need to be proactive

— Corey A. Geiger, Managing Editor

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
November 7, 2016

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