When it's time to go: Three signs it might be time to walk away from the farm

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There is a lot riding on a farm, year by year. When a farm transition — or talk of a farm transition — gets added in to the mix, it can be a real challenge to manage the farm, the discussions, and navigate all the important decisions necessary to bring on the next generation of farm owners.

In reality, not every farm ownership plan succeeds. There are countless reasons as to why that may be, but at some point, a future farmer may decide that waiting until “the one day this will all be yours” isn’t serving them, their family, and their career goals. Sometimes, the best option is to walk away from a farm transition.

According to Elaine Froese, farm family coach based in Manitoba, everyone is different; but there are signs that a transition is not going to be successful and it may be time to consider other options.

1.) Feelings of frustration persist over time

According to Froese, if after giving negotiations with family “a good go at it” for an entire farm cycle, and feelings of frustration with the lack of progress on agreements or ownership transfers still remain, it may be a sign it’s time to look elsewhere. As well, constant procrastination over answers or decisions and missed agreed-upon-deadlines are red flags.

2.) “Distracted management” is prevalent

When there are too many unresolved conflicts or drama taking attention away from important business tasks, it leads to an unhealthy environment. This is “distracted management,” Froese says, and can hurt the farm business in the interim. What’s more, if the “grass is greener” is looking more and more green, it might be time to explore what other role (in agriculture or not) might be a better fit.

3.) The vision for the farm is a mismatch

If the younger generation has ambitions like diversification or new practices that the existing management strongly opposes, there may be an irreconcilable difference in visions. This type of behaviour can stall motivation and innovation, which again, ultimately hinders the business and progress.

Check out the full conversation between Froese and RealAgriculture’s Lyndsey Smith, below:

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