Multi-generation farm business planning needs more attention

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For those who have recently been through a farm business transition, thinking about doing it again might seem like an unpopular idea.

But Ron Krahn, farmer from western Manitoba, says that with so much of the farm succession talk being focused on the exiting generation, tax planning, and life insurance, for the last 20 years, a funny thing happened: another generation grew up.

That generation of people in their late teens and early 20s are working on the farm and thinking about their futures, too. Now farmers like Krahn, settling in to the prime of their careers, are wondering how best to handle bringing the next generation on board.

Krahn posted that thought to Twitter and got some great responses (see tweet below). To follow up, I asked him to join Kelvin Heppner and myself on RealAg Radio to further hash out what’s at issue.

“We just finished succession with my mom and dad, successfully, I would say for the most part. [There were] a few bumps along the road, but overall a good experience, I think for everybody. But we already have our 20-year-old son who is wanting to come back to the farm. We’re now grappling with how we do that,” he says.

Krahn adds that there’s plenty of help for tax and financial planning, but there’s information out there about long-term business planning. Admittedly, that could be because the agriculture industry as a whole was so unprepared for the most recent wave of succession that there was catching up to do, he says.

The key for Krahn and for Heppner, too, is that a family farm starts with family. If we’ve learned anything from the last 20 years of succession being a hot topic, it’s that no plan leads to ruined relationships, and that’s not a trend this generation wants to continue.

“I think sometimes we mix up what our priorities are in terms of keeping the farm going versus our family relationships. And I think that’s something that we need to take score of when we start this process and keep that in the in the background of all these discussions,” Heppner says.

Check out the full conversation, below:

Related:

Mind Your Farm Business — The sweat equity trap

Working with family, gratitude, and succession, with Jolene Brown

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