two farmers and their crops in bright sunlight

Why Your Kids Will Never Run The Farm As Well As You Do

Succession in a family business of any sort is fraught with difficulty, and generational change does not always mean a successful continuation of the business. That’s a well known fact. And when it comes to farming businesses, there are special circumstances that come into play because the business is so personal. After all, your business is also your home and your life. All of which makes it difficult to hand over management of the farm to the next generation.

The Problem with Delaying Responsibility

Like any generation, your children will have a different approach to risk, different aspirations and notions on how to achieve those aspirations. You on the other hand may have become more cautious about safeguarding assets and whilst you may still have plenty of energy, you prefer to play it safe, do things that you know work.

And so you are reluctant to start handing over the reins of the farm too early. Your attitude is entirely understandable, but, by hanging on to control, could you be contributing to the farm’s ultimate demise? Ok, your father kept you away from management of the business for a long time and you are the living proof that the system worked. But could it have worked better?

There is a big difference between having a son or daughter working on the farm (essentially as a labourer) and allowing them real participation in management. You may feel that they see enough to learn the ropes as they go along, but is that really true? Telling your son, for example that one day the farm will be his, and that he can make all the decisions he likes then, is not likely to do much for his self confidence and doesn’t allow him to practice management skills.

Let’s be honest. Criticism of the younger generation coming through on the farm is common. But are the grumbles always justified? Can the youngsters all be that incompetent?

Finding the Middle Ground

Too often, the default setting for management/succession issues is to do nothing. But ultimately, you will be passing control of the farm over to your successor and you know that financial decision making and farm planning require skills and confidence honed through experience.

Which is why it might make sense to start relinquishing the reigns a bit as you go along? Middle management before becoming Managing Director – that sort of thing.

And this is where having a properly crafted life plan comes in. It is put together early on and modified as you progress through life. It enables you and your family to meet changing needs and gives you confidence that the business will be in good hands when you ultimately relinquish control fully, possibly many years into the future.

It’s the middle ground and goes a long way to solving the most common and perplexing issues farming families face.

We know that.

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