Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Farm Succession- Start the Crucial Conversation

The OneFarm ( Farm Succession Summit brought 80 NZ & International rural professionals together who all work with farmers on Farm Succession.

 It’s very important that these Farm Family Facilitators, Accountants, Consultants & Solicitors specializing in Farm Succession all work as a team rather than in isolation
ANZ Bank data suggests that most farmers believe it is a very important issue to be discussed, planned & implemented yet fewer than 10% have a Farm Succession Plan. 
Many families find it difficult to start this “Crucial & Difficult Conversation” which is fully appreciated as the stakes are high, involving strong emotions & often with differing opinions.
The older & younger members of a farming family need to discuss each member’s dreams, aspirations & the future plans for the farm & their role in the future farm. Ideally all family members should be included in those discussions including daughters in law & sons in law. Daughters in Law are in a particularly unique situation sometimes this makes it more difficult to act or maybe the situation creates a completely new opportunity.   

Often it is these people who initiate the first meetings as the core family finds it very difficult or there is reluctance to start the conversation. It is often better to bring in an outside professional like a Farm Family Business meeting Facilitator who can help families get onto the table the differing opinions. 

Putting real numbers on the table often brings clarity quickly so involving the Farm consultant or Accountant can be very helpful too at this early stage of discussions.
JoAnn Alumbaugh from Iowa, USA, one of the Farm Succession Summit speakers made the point that:-
 “ Communication although essential is rarely easy. Sometimes, it’s most difficult to have meaningful conversations with people about whom we care the most”. Unbiased, objective viewpoints provide much needed perspective & help neutralize conflict.
It’s important to listen carefully to what other family members are saying. Every Crucial Conversation has three core elements:- The stakes are high, The emotions are strong & the opinions often differ.  There is another closely related book “ Difficult Conversations- Discuss what matters”  which makes more really helpful suggestions A good summary is here in this webpage
Lyn Sykes from Australia offered two more books that have been published in Australia to help farming families to plan effective succession plans  And one on families communicating
John Baker from Iowa USA wasn’t at the conference but he has courses for farm families at The Beginning Farmer Centre.  watching the youtube  might spark some ideas too.
It is very important to also state that for some farmers, Farm Succession is not an option. These farms maybe too small or not profitable enough to pass on to the next generation. These farmers do have other options which need to be discussed with Farm Consultants, Accountants & Solicitors.
The OneFarm Centre will soon release material coming out of the Farm Succession Summit (on twitter search using the hashtag #farmSuccessionSummit ) including webinars. The Summit was all videoed for website use. Keep an eye on the website
The earlier you start the Farm Succession Conversation the better for all your family & for you too.


  1. This is critical. Farming is a business, like any other business, and issues of succession and estate planning are just so important and should not be overlooked.

  2. The OneFarm Farm Succession Summit webinars are now available free to view at Really interesting viewing!

  3. Hey there! I just have noticed that the Rss of this website is functioning in a right way, did you fulfill all the options by yourself or you simply used the original settings of the widget?