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Opinion: Are You Leaving A Farming Legacy Or A Liability?

It’s sadly a familiar story in the rural community, someone dies and a family falls out over what happens next. Emotions run high and a sense of what is fair or appropriate can’t be agreed upon.

In fact, a death, retirement or a change in circumstances can bring about an unexpectedly time-consuming or complicated succession process even when everyone is amicable and in agreement.

The decision so many farming families put off making – what will happen when it’s time for someone else to take over – can be the difference between a farm business thriving, or struggling, for generations to come.

Leaving your farm to succeed is a matter of good planning, and getting those plans in place should be given the weight of importance it deserves.

When a farm is doing well and the future looks secure, it’s hard to stop and consider what might happen if you were suddenly not a part of the picture. If retirement seems a long way off, you may have many issues that seem more pressing but succession planning is essential and needn’t be prohibitively difficult to undertake.

It’s often the case that family members might assume they are in agreement without having the conversations necessary to compare their thoughts or intentions.

Whanganui & Partners and Family Business Central are making the succession process easier by providing a series of four free sessions to help farming families get a plan in place.

Do you have effective and regular family meetings to talk about issues, where everyone feels involved and listened to? It’s a great question for your family to start with.

Have you thought through what everyone needs financially and the implications around this?

The next generation needs to be ready and prepared, including being up-to-speed on skills and experience, to take over the farm. Often there hasn’t been a frank conversation around what to do if no one wants to take over or doesn’t have the necessary skills to do so.

Bob Selden from Family Business Central knows exactly how difficult these conversations might be and he knows how to help families work through the issues of managing a farm, as well as looking after family members, now and into the future.

These four 4-hour sessions will help guide farming families through those difficult discussions and help them look to their future with a sense of confidence and assurance.

Practical and down to earth, the Building Your Farm and Family Futures sessions will provide technical advice and suggestions for your family to consider.

Talking about succession is not all these workshops will do though. The workshops will show how to have the sometimes difficult conversations, how to get creative, and how to involve the family so that regardless of the decisions made, the family is united and together in planning for the future – for both business and family success.

It’s best if at least two family members, and all if possible, attend each workshop. In this way the family business benefits from the collective understanding of the concepts being covered and provides momentum for the entire family to apply these in their farming business.

The four sessions are: 1. Family Business and Farm Essentials - what are the key things you must know? 2. Family and Business Governance - both are essential, but what’s the difference? 3. How to Succeed at Succession – A plan? A process? Or is it a transition? 4. How to have the family conversations regarding the farm, the business, the family.

The first session is on Wednesday, June 9 with the remaining three following fortnightly. Registration is essential and you must attend all four. You can register and learn more at whanganuiandpartners.nz/legacy.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Colleen Sheldon is Whanganui & Partners’ Strategic Lead for Agribusiness.

 

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