When farmers talk about succession, the conversation typically revolves around how the farm could be transitioned to the next generation of the family.
But when Ravena, Ont., beef and grain farmers James and Joan McKinlay talk succession, the conversation is rarely about their family. Much of the focus is on a generation of non-farmers who have the skill and passion required to be successful, but don’t have a family farm connection and the resources it can provide young people.
The McKinlays have employed young people on their Silver Springs Farms for more than 40 years. Over the years, they’ve lamented how often these young, talented employees left the industry upon realizing there was little opportunity for them to own their own farm.
McKinlay expects his son to take the reins of their farm in the future, but he also wants to provide an opportunity for young people without a farm family connection to have a future on the farm. He calls his approach “Forever Farming” — a concept designed to impart skill, experience and financial support to next generation farmers who have demonstrated the character needed to start and operate a successful farm business.
McKinlay shared his non-traditional approach recently with farmers attending the SouthWest Agricultural Conference (SWAC). In this interview with RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin, McKinlay describes how he’s currently working with four young employees to get them started in the business.
He helps them to negotiate rental agreements with other farmers, offers them the opportunity to purchase shares in cows, and even provides financing over a five-year term. “If we want a future generation in agriculture, we have to find a way to get more young people involved in agriculture,” say McKinlay.
(Listen to James McKinlay and Bernard Tobin discuss Forever Farming — a non-traditional approach to farm succession.)
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