By Lisa Boonstoppel-Pot
What you have is a concept, not a plan
Given how many farm succession planning meetings and webinars I have covered, I thought I would be an expert when it came my turn to pass my half of the dairy farm to my son.
Ben and I had already decided on an evaluation, had a “yes, no, maybe” meeting with all the other children to determine who else might want to dairy farm (one yes, one maybe) and even came up with a buy-out plan.
However, when Andrea De Groot, Farm Credit Canada’s Agricultural Transition Specialist sat at my kitchen table to discuss the process, it suddenly became way more complicated.
While she complimented us on our progress, she said more than once that what we had was a concept, not a plan. Had we talked to lawyers, accountants, tax specialists and investment planners yet?
“Sort of,” I admitted, humbled and a bit overwhelmed at the all the work ahead to make this transition.
I realized what we had so far was a framework and not a terribly complete one at that. During the hours De Groot spent around the table with us, her questions (gained from years of experience) made me realize how emotionally fraught this whole transfer is as well. I want to do right by my son, myself, and my parents. They no longer have a financial stake but for sure they have an emotional one as the original dairy farmers. Plus, I want the farm to survive for future generations which may produce a farmer as well.
We thought maybe the generational transfer could be complete by December. The look on De Groot’s face suggested that was highly unlikely.
So I add my voice to many others I have interviewed to say:
● start now and collect information
● realize every transition is incredibly personal, emotional, complicated and likely requires an outside voice to bring clarity to it all
● get in touch with FCC and book your appointment because honestly, De Groot was fantastic — calm, intelligent and helpful
I’m so thankful I have the opportunity to pass the family farm to the next generation but my word, it’s not easy. ◊
Tyler Hendriks was an ideal interview subject. A progressive dairy farmer with thirst for knowledge, Tyler had a ready smile, an engaging manner and wasn’t “protecting-my-interests” shy about sharing data about his Jersey herd. I wished my own dairy-farming son had tagged along to learn and said so.
“Well, tell him to come over. I often have people visit while I’m doing the night-time milking,” he said,
That night I shared my day with visiting daughter Linaya who is an equine and dairy nutritionist. She saw an opportunity to learn too! Not one to let grass grow under her feet, she contacted Hendriks and drove her brother out to visit with Tyler on a Friday night.
I don’t know everything that was said but I do know visiting other farms and talking farming with fellow farmers is the BEST way to learn different ways of doing things. Networking leads to the exchange of ideas, can boost morale, increase productivity and just helps you enjoy life a little bit more. Sharing what you know solidifies concepts and reveals areas that need to be worked on. Kudos to Hendriks and young farmers like him who understand success leads to leadership, that learning and teaching are intertwined, and sharing knowledge encourages future leaders and strengthens the entire dairy industry.
There to Listen
In this column, I’ve praised a dairy farmer (right), a farm specialist (below) and I thought why not stick with the theme and say how impressed I was with the Huron County Federation of Agriculture’s Local Politician Forum. As we all farm in our little commodity silos, it’s hard to keep up with issues other farm sectors are facing. This meeting allows farm leaders to share their successes, concerns and needs with each other and local politicians. The Minister of Agriculture, Lisa Thompson and MP Ben Lobb have NEVER missed this meeting since I started covering it for The Rural Voice. Listening is huge and they do it well.