One after another, readers have reached out to say "thank you" since we launched the Farm Journal Legacy Project in 2008. That’s because the self-reliant qualities that make
farmers the strong backbone of our food supply also make it difficult for them to turn over the management reins.
In the old days, the generational transition was simple and direct. The oldest son got the farm. End of conversation. Today, it is not so easy. Times have changed and so has the level of wealth, opportunity and risk in agriculture. It is now paramount for farm operations to plan for future success.
The Farm Journal Legacy Project is a catalyst for the process to begin and is devoted to cultivating multigenerational success. A key part of that is providing producers with the tools to simplify the complex and daunting process of succession planning.
A grant from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, will make planning easier for farmers as agriculture takes on the largest transfer of wealth in history. The funding helps expand the Farm Journal Media commitment to raise awareness of succession planning and kick off the largest industry initiative of its kind in agriculture.
"We are excited to provide support for the project and make sure additional services are available for farmers," explains Alejandro Munoz, Pioneer vice president and regional director, North America. "The transfer of wealth and leadership is important to our customers, Pioneer and all of agriculture. We know that more than 80% of our customers want to continue their operations to the next generation."
Even though 80% of farms plan to transfer control to the next generation, only 20% are fully confident in their succession plan. The startling distance between those two numbers is at the heart of what motivates Farm Journal and Pioneer to take bold steps to close the gap. The Pioneer grant helps make the following possible:
- Extensive editorial coverage of succession planning throughout Farm Journal Media—in FARM JOURNAL, TOP PRODUCER and DAIRY TODAY magazines, on the "AgDay" and "U.S. Farm Report" TV shows and on AgWeb.com.
- An online library of succession planning tools and resources at the Legacy Project Web site, www.farmjournallegacyproject.com.
- A monthly "Leave a Legacy" TV show on the "AgDay" national network. Hands-on workshops led by Kevin Spafford, Farm Journal succession planning expert.
- A Legacy Project workbook to help with your analysis, planning and succession steps.
- A free weekly eNewsletter to help inspire and guide succession planning moves. To sign up, go to www.farmjournallegacyproject.com.
For generations, farm businesses and farm families have been intricately woven together. While farms are increasingly high-tech, the businesses are rooted in a deep sense of responsibility to care for the land and livestock—and feed the world. A legacy lives on, leaving a lasting mark.
We invite you to join us and start today in taking meaningful steps to leave a legacy.
Snapshot from Our Legacy Workshops
Using hand-held polling devices, such as the one at right, the audience at our first round of Farm Journal Legacy Project Workshops provided a quick, candid look into their legacy priorities, plans and hurdles. A push of a button let the farm families anonymously answer a short survey and immediately see collective results from the crowd.
Here is a summary of what the attendees from Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota shared:
93% believe continuing family ownership of the farm is important.
Only 5% of the families have a written comprehensive succession plan.
When asked to cite the reason they don’t have a plan, 38% of the families said they didn’t know what to do to get started.
Another 35% of attendees said they don’t know how to find the help they need for the succession planning process.
Nearly half of the families, 48%, have had, at one time or another, a family gathering to discuss succession issues. By a show of hands, the audience admitted that many of the get-togethers weren’t formal or planned—and often ended at the first sign of conflict.
Not surprisingly, most families have concerns regarding some of the tough succession issues, such as fair versus equal. In fact, 85% of all participants believe that children who work on the farm should receive larger shares of the operation than those who do not.
To learn more about how to attend a future Legacy event, see page 46 in this resource issue or visit www.FarmJournalLegacy Project.com.