It took a while but I think it is safe to say “Spring is sprung and the grass is riz”. It is a time for optimism. A time for regrowth. This past weekend brought the warmer temperatures, gale force winds calmed, it was downright nice weather. Particularly for golf.
Over the last few days I have also noticed increased activity in the fields. Farmers are getting at it. After months of waiting, planning, fixing, and generally getting ready, they are putting in the 2016 crop. For the most part they too are filled with optimism. Although, metaphorically speaking, there appear to be some storm clouds in the distance. Some issues, particularly financial, have created some anxiety. Commodity prices have softened from the levels experienced over the last few years. It seems that costs keep going up regardless. Forecasts are calling for a hot, dry summer. However farmers prove time and time again that they have resilience. They have what it takes. They are innovative. They adapt. They can do this.
This busy time of year also provides opportunity for thought. What else do you do as you put in countless hours going up and down the fields on your tractors? You think. You plan. I suspect that there will be those who will wonder whether it is time to call it a day and sell out. Many are wondering if it is time to leave it to the next generation. Perhaps there are those who will wish they had started the conversation sooner.
The thought of transitioning from the farm, whether selling or passing on to the next generation, can be frightening. Questions abound. Will my kids want to farm? Are they capable? What will I retire on? What will I do? Where will I live? How will this work? Who can help me? This is but a sampling of questions many ask. It becomes so overwhelming that many just simply ignore what needs to be done.
The challenge becomes to take the process one step at a time. There are many steps involved in a transition plan. That is why it is best to start with the first step without thinking too far ahead. Normally that first step would be to have a conversation. A conversation with your spouse, your partner and your kids. Through the conversation come to an understanding of what everyone’s expectations are. They may be different than you thought. Others may have assumed what you wanted only to find out they were wrong. The conversation will get everyone on the same page.
Not to scare anyone, but these conversations may be difficult at times. Many interests, fears, concerns, and desires may have been avoided over the years. The reality of the farm and all that goes with it may not have been truly understood. What may be equitable will not feel fair. With increased challenges on the farm there may be some who no longer want to farm. All these challenges bring fear to the retiring generation and the succeeding generation. The solutions may not be easy to come by but with the right intentions and hard work a successful plan can be implemented.
The good news is there are professionals that can help with the various components of a plan. There are those who can assist with the difficult conversations. There are those who can help mapping out the process. It is a matter of retaining that help and getting on with the plan. Make it a good one.
“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.” Karen Salmansohn