Can you remember the last time you discussed your farm transition plan with the members of your family? Unfortunately, transition planning is a topic frequently ignored among families unless a crisis occurs. Even more unfortunate, it is often avoided because it leads to uncomfortable conversations that may lead to conflicts.
One of the uncomfortable conversations is the equal or fair split of the business among successors. It is not unlikely (especially nowadays) that, while some family members or successors are intimately involved in the farming operation, some other family members are not. This unbalanced interest might lead predecessors to consider a fair split rather than an equal split approach to the farm transition.
Another uncomfortable conversation is determining who will make the decisions on the farming operation. Although a transition may have been agreed upon between the predecessors and the successors, it is not uncommon that the predecessors keep making major decisions, impeding the new generation from fulfilling their role as new owners and directors of the operation. The timelines for these transition plans can also be a difficult conversation, especially if a predecessor has an unfavorable health condition. Similarly, if a successor member has an unfavorable health condition, the circumstances might lead to challenging conversations as well as biased decisions.
Find a coordinator
These are several instances where uncomfortable conversations may paralyze the farm transition plan. However, if you place your fears aside and decide to develop a farm transition plan, seeking the help of a certified farm transition coordinator is highly recommended. These professionals are trained to guide you in this process so you and your family can understand where the farm business currently stands, envision where you all want the farm business to be in the future, and set a plan to reach that goal. If you need a certified farm transition coordinator but do not know where to find one, you can search for some near your location in the International Farm Transition Network (IFTN) at www.farmtransition.org. After having a candid conversation, trust your coordinator to lead this process to minimize the uncomfortable circumstances and conversations while developing a successful farm transition plan.