Swallowing Your Pride - Can Family Farms Still Afford to Be Split Up?

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By Shaun Haney

It has always been the practice in agriculture if more than one sibling decides to take over the family farm that the farm will be split into separate entities.  I know that in my own family’s case in the late seventies, my grandfather and his brother split the farm into two separate companies.  Traditionally this allowed each sibling to run their own operation and have autonomy.  Across Canada I still see this happening today and it is a practice that many farms can no longer afford.

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In my opinion just splitting the farm for the sake of splitting the farm is a decision that needs to be weighed more heavily in today’s farming environment.  Margins are getting tighter, competition for land is higher and equipment is getting more expensive.  Why would you give away the scope of your farm operation just because you want to make all the decisions.  What other industry does something like this?  I’m drawing  blank to be honest with you.  Think of the mega family business in Canada and think about if they would of split the operation every time there was a sibling disagreement.  We would have no Molson, McCains or Thompsons.

Family farm operations need to understand the environment today and realize that the family farm unit can no longer afford to split and go in different directions.  Splitting a 10,000 acre western Canadian grain farm into 3 separate units is economic lunacy at its finest.

The only way that this splitting can still happen nad be successful is if the separate companies still decide to work together to lower costs.  For example, sharing employees, equipment, and building structures.  I bet if you asked most farmers that are considering or have recently split the farm they did not fully think the new separate farm units were actually financially weaker than the unit as a whole.  I suggest you swallow your pride and really think about what will make your farming operation successful and chances are that it is not breaking into in half and going your separate way.

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