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Communication is key in succession planning

The majority of farming operations are expected to change hands over the next decade. Talking about the future and planning ahead is crucial.
Planning for the future is important for all farming operations.

LAKELAND - A small group of people gathered virtually on April 13 to discuss a somewhat heavy topic – succession planning. 

Kelly Sidoryk was on hand to offer some advice and guidance – through virtual means - to producers who are looking ahead, or those who are in the process of passing down or transitioning their farm. 

Sidoryk acknowledged how farmers are good at “producing things” but many do require a bit of help and guidance when it comes to the people side of things. She said it felt like just yesterday when she and her brother were taking over the family farm, and now she and her husband are in the other seat. 

She reminded producers that they do need experts – such as lawyers and accountants – to help in the process. But, even just as important is having conversations between family members, and others involved in the farm, about what they want for the future. 

When it comes to succession planning, Sidoryk concedes that “it’s a process, and I don’t think it every goes perfect.” But communication and having a vision will help move things along more smoothly. 

She encouraged farmers to aim for progress, not perfection. 

There can be a lot off complicated pieces and moving parts, when it comes to succession planning. Some producers will be transitioning their farms to other family members, while others will be transitioning to non-family members. 

According to statistics from Farm Management Canada, 75 per cent of operations will be transitioning in the next 10 years, but very few of those operations have a plan. 

Having a vision for the futures helps unite a family unit around a common goal, it inspires and motivates people, and allows for a core set of principles and guidelines to be established. 

Sidoryk says it’s important to ask questions, such as ‘why does your farm or ranch exist?’ or ‘what do you want to be known for?’ 

Is the farm a “family-first” operation, or is it business first? She reminded those in attendance that there was no right or wrong answers to the questions. 

Other tips Sidoryk recommended include, appointing a succession planning leader, have discussions with each member of the family individually, have a family meeting where everyone gathers – and be inclusive rather than exclusive. 

It’s also important to continue to meet and get input as the succession plan develops.  

“It’s complicated. Our operations have grown so much,” says Sidoryk. 

She also reminded people that the younger generation that is coming up has a lot of creative ideas, and once an operation is passed down, it’s not going to look the same, and that’s OK. 

Contact LARA to register for other the upcoming events.