US farm succession a family business

In the U.S., farming and agriculture play a dominant role in the economy. Frequently farms and ranches are passed down from one generation to another. The assistant director for agriculture, resources and community for neighboring Kansas State research spoke at a Women in Agriculture Conference for Seward County. He stated that, as in many facets of life, communication skills go a long way, especially in succession planning and estate planning.

Ensuring a successful transition from one generation to the next involves several key steps. First, senior members of the family business should provide clear goals, along with the transition of how assets will be passed along to heirs.

While estate planning is key, succession planning must be examined in order to ascertain whether the next generation will be compatible with business and management philosophies. These issues require the input and consideration of heirs and family managers, along with individuals that might be outside the family nucleus.

Recommendations included prioritizing values including strategic planning, maintaining a sense of trust in all stakeholders, and the ability to perform objectively in the conflict resolution and building consensus skills.

Business philosophies and financial risks need to be assessed, along with outlining the responsibilities of labor and management. Multiple iterations of the plan might be crafted and approved by an informed estate planner, along with an honest appraisal of any awkward family secrets.

All meetings would involve multiple specialists, including counselors, mediators, financial mediators and legal advisors. Facilitators should also be allowed to pull in other resources such as communication specialists, conflict management specialists, counselors, mediators, financial managers and lawyers.

It is never too early to start planning for the future. Especially in cases of passing down a family business, all involved parties should spend quality time with planned periods of rest. This should include a variety of experts in various fields that can provide support and assistance to develop and maintain a plan to provide for continuing sound business planning and provisions for heirs and beneficiaries in years to come.

SourceLeader & Times, “Passing on the family farm” Robert Pierce, Feb. 01, 2014