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On The Farm

Ways to Grow Your Family Farm for Future Generations

Your farm is more than where you work — it’s your livelihood. And most often, it’s your home too. American Family Insurance is committed to helping you keep it that way. Sustaining and growing your farm is the key to a successful future for the next generation, so use these tips to help make your farm stand the test of time.

Get Your Family Involved

The best way to keep your farm growing for future generations is to make sure your family has a common understanding. Use these tips to help get your family involved in the family business and reduce any confusion down the line.

Set an attainable goal. Sit down and talk with family members involved with the farm, and be sure you’re all on the same page. Then, write down your goal and keep it somewhere where you can see it every day — that way you’ll always be reminded of everything you’re working for.

Understand and teach the history. Depending on how long your farm has been in the family, its history could play a major factor in its continuity. The pride, hardships and successes of the farm might inspire younger members to keep it headed in the right direction.

Involve the willing. Not every younger member of your family will want to be involved in carrying the farm to the future — and that’s okay. Plan and discuss a future that doesn’t involve unwilling members of the family and be honest to avoid any sort of miscommunications or misunderstandings.

Don’t worry about over-communicating. Encourage communication — it’s the only way your family can understand the plan for the farm’s future. When everyone feels free and comfortable voicing concerns and asking questions, everyone will be better off for it.

Prepare to Pass the Farm On

Get into the mindset that despite what the deed says, the land belongs to the future generation. The family farm is the financial key to your family’s livelihood — not just something to be sold when it’s time to retire. Here’s how you can set your farm’s heirs up for success.

Get comfortable giving up control. Coming to peace with the fact that the farm will be in someone else’s hands at some point might be tough to handle. You can alleviate that stress by getting willing family members involved as early as possible and communicating. Mentally preparing to pass the farm on is key to a smooth transition. This mindset ensures that the farm is designed to serve each generation, not just yours.

Keep and find important records. Have inventory information, financial records and other important notes on hand for easy review. See how the farm has progressed financially, understand its current health and gauge its future prospects to figure out if any changes will need to be implemented before or after a transition.

Stay current on trends. Technology advances, methods changes and trends take over the farming landscape. And while not every advancement is worth implementing, staying on top of the best practices related to your business can help maximize your farm’s potential. If you don’t already, subscribe to trade publications that focus on your specific type of farming.

Minimize Your Farm’s Debt

This one seems simple — passing the farm on from generation to generation is a lot easier when the bank isn’t involved. Make it a priority to live within your means and pay off debts quickly with these tips in mind:

Avoid high-interest debt. Just like you would with your personal finances, avoiding unnecessary high-interest debt will help you avoid major financial headache for you and your family members down the line. Achieving minimal debt can be as easy as curbing purchases that aren’t totally necessary, discussing potential purchases with heirs and consulting a financial advisor.

Don’t venture from your strategy. Debt and growth go hand-in-hand, and putting together your farm’s financial, growth and operational strategy took a lot of work. Making a big jump from your strategy in-place can be risky financially, so stay the course unless major changes are absolutely necessary.

Consider refinancing your current debt. Depending on the current economy, you might be able to replace your existing debt with one loan that has a lower interest rate. Talk to your financial advisor about refinancing opportunities and research carefully.

Create a Farm Succession Plan

In order to secure your legacy, it’s important to build a farm succession plan. Involving the right people and having the right conversations will give you peace of mind, knowing that the next generation is taken care of. Use these tips while building out your plan:

Leave no doubt in the details. Involving your American Family Insurance agent, financial advisor and lawyer in the creation of your plan can help you cover all the corners of your farm, leaving no doubt how the business will continue and who will run it.

Review it regularly. Things change. Whether family dynamics, unfortunate circumstances or changes in financial status occur, you can be ready to adjust on the fly if you’re familiar with the plan and willing to make modifications that are best for you, your family and the farm.

Ask for help when you need it. Sometimes pride can take over and saddle you with all the work necessary to make your family farm successful in the future. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family members, colleagues you trust and your insurance agent, financial advisor and lawyer.

When it comes to growing your farm for the next generation, staying proactive is key to a successful future. By planting the seeds of a healthy, and forward-thinking farm, you’ll reap the benefits in the years to come.

Your American Family Insurance agent can help you protect your farm now and for the future with the right farm insurance policy. Get in touch, and make sure everything you’ve worked so hard for is protected from the unexpected.

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Related Topics: Farm Succession Plan