As written for the Vermont Vegetable & Berry Newsletter, January 30, 2019
The farm succession process is often driven by the older generation. But the roles of the younger generation in the process are highly significant. Hearing from the next generation in a structured and deliberate manner often helps the older generation get clarity on options and directions they can pursue. In a family transfer, when adult children have non-farm careers, there may be an assumption that they have no interest in the farm, which is not always the case. There are many examples where young adults go out and explore the world, then come back to the farm.
On the other hand, just because someone grew up on farm does not mean that they are cut out to run a successful farm business. If the priority is to keep the business going, succession can’t just be viewed as a birthright. The younger generation needs to show some initiative and aptitude and willingness to learn not just the skills of production, but the skills of management.
In some cases, the best candidate to take over a farm is not a family member, but a trusted employee, or young farmer running their own start-up. For some farms a viable succession scenario is a team of family and non-family with the right mix of skills.
To help the younger generation explore being a successor, and communicate with the older generation, Land For Good developed a handbook Farm Succession And Transfer Strategies For the Junior Generation.
See more resources to aid in farm transfer planning.