Potato Grower

January 2018

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90 POTATO GROWER | JANUARY 2018 Diggin' In Diggin' In Diggin' In Diggin' In Diggin' In Diggin' In FARM BUSINESS| By Trimble Ag Business Solutions Team Never underestimate the value of good succession planning Good Plan It's a familiar scene: A farmer sits beside his child as they look out over the fields. "One day this will all be yours," he says. Then the farmer meets with his trusted advisor to create a comprehensive succession plan that is regularly revisited and discussed openly with his child over the next 20 years. If that last part doesn't sound familiar, it's because it's not. In fact, only 29 percent of U.S. farms had a succession plan in 2013, according to Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) data. This is especially concerning when you consider that farmers over 55 years old own nearly 80 percent of all owner-operated farms in the U.S., based on a 2016 USDA study. Succession planning provides the best possible chance for a seamless transition maintaining a farm's viability and vision. So why have over two-thirds of farmers not taken this step? To start, it's an emotional subject for all parties involved, for many different reasons. No farmer likes to think of a time when he or she won't be around to tend the fields. No sibling want to have the awkward conversation about who deserves to take over the farm. No in-law wants to come across as demanding answers when trying to plan for the future. In a nutshell, it's easy to put off such a difficult conversation. That brings up the next reason succession planning isn't happening on a majority of farms: procrastination. Now, farmers are not procrastinators. It goes against their nature. However, there is a never-ending list of jobs to be done on a farm. There is always another shelf to put up or implement repair to do. A difficult and emotional conversation can seem like it can wait until after harvest, until after winter, until after planting. If those reasons hit home, know that there are people that can help. Neil Burwash, CPA, CMA, CFP and business coach with the Agri- Trend network, is passionate about helping farmers set themselves up for success with legacy plans. "We deal with the people and structure side of succession planning," Burwash says. "We look at what transfer process will be fair for stakeholders and equitable for the farm, and then we help facilitate that transfer." Business coaches provide valuable objectivity during succession planning, regardless of the family dynamic, situation or dreaded conversation that arises. Family is at the root of most agricultural endeavors, and creating a solid succession plan is the only surefi re way to ensure a farm enterprise remains in the family.

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