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Values, Goals, and Happiness in the Farm Transition

First appeared in Country Guide Magazine February 2021



As statistics have told us, it is very common for farm transition issues to cause a rift in family relationships, especially if there is not a plan in place. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has likely limited extended family gatherings around the kitchen table, it is still possible for families to get their transition plans in place. Too often issues can result from a simple miscommunication or lack of communication on expectations around the transition – something that is easily avoidable.
As statistics have told us, it is very common for farm transition issues to cause a rift in family relationships, especially if there is not a plan in place. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has likely limited extended family gatherings around the kitchen table, it is still possible for families to get their transition plans in place. Too often issues can result from a simple miscommunication or lack of communication on expectations around the transition – something that is easily avoidable.

As a certified financial planning professional, my purpose is to work with farm members of our partner credit union and non-members within our farming community. When I meet with the successor generation in the farm transition, I find that they are ready to discuss the financials of the transition. We work together to understand the cash flow that they will require from the farm to support their family's lifestyle. We review their risk management needs to ensure their debt and family is protected on death, disability, and illness, and we work with their other professionals, whether it be their lender, accountant, or lawyer.

However, the next generation is often not prepared for the discussion around their own values and their family values.

As a farmer's daughter myself, I know it can be difficult to articulate why farming runs through our veins. Although I am not farming, on reviewing my own values, one that ranks high on the list is perseverance. Without a doubt, this value has been engrained in me because of my upbringing on the farm and seeing the continuing efforts my father made, without knowing if those efforts would ever be rewarded. I believe my father would be pleased to have passed this value down. I share this, as an example of how core values can be reaffirmed between generations.

Even though values can differ amongst family members and the farm, it is important to understand what they are and where there are gaps. The decision to transition the farm is often more than just a financial decision. The next generation should understand the financial piece and they should also understand the history of the farm, what the farm means to them, their family, and to generations past. If there are indeed gaps, it is best that they are known so that we can address how the differences may or may not affect the running of the farm.

Values-based planning looks at values first – even before looking at the cash flow that is needed for the next generation's family. Why? When the use of our money is in line with what we value most, studies have shown we are much happier and have more fulfillment in life. When the retiring generation sees similar values guiding the continued success of the farm, it provides fulfillment for them as well.

Here are some questions that farm families can ask themselves to determine the values that are most important in guiding the future direction of the farm:

What does the farm mean to you?
What does/did the farm mean to your parents?
What key characteristics were important to the success of the farm since its inception?
What characteristics or values are important to the continued success of the farm?

Deanna Amos, B. Comm, CFP, CAFA is an Investment Advisor with Credential Securities and an Insurance Representative with Credential Financial Strategies Inc.

Mutual funds, other securities and securities related financial planning services are offered through Credential Securities, a division of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc. Credential Securities is a registered mark owned by Aviso Wealth Inc. Credential Financial Strategies Inc. is a member company under Aviso Wealth Inc., offering financial planning, life insurance and investments to members of credit unions and their communities.

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