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Generation makes difference in transition planning

Farm transition specialist Allan Vyhnalek will speak on the Hospitality Tent stage at Husker Harvest Days.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

August 10, 2023

2 Min Read
Farmer discussing soybean cyst nematode in field to attendees
UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENCES: Allan Vyhnalek, longtime Nebraska Extension farm transition specialist, knows a little about generational differences in priorities, goals and communication when it comes to succession planning for the farm and ranch. Check out Vyhnalek’s workshops on the Hospitality Tent stage each day at Husker Harvest Days. Curt Arens

Farm succession planning is tough enough. Each age group among those trying to plan for a peaceful and successful transition of the farming operation from one generation to the next generations has a different focus, different goals and priorities, and see things from a different angle.

Allan Vyhnalek, Nebraska Extension farm transition specialist, has been helping farm families navigate these difficult waters for years, and he has picked up a few pointers through his research and experiences with transitions.

One thing Vyhnalek says is that every transition plan will be unique, because families and operations are unique. But no matter the intricacies of the actual planning process, it is helpful, he says, to understand the generational differences and acknowledge that they play a role in how the transition planning goes.

What’s the difference?

Most of the farms being transitioned to the next generations are considered either in the matures group, born between 1925 and 1945 and at the ages of 76-96; or baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, and at the ages of 57-75.

The younger groups that might be involved in the transition — including Generation X, millennial or Generation Y, and Generation Z or Digital Natives — probably see things differently from the first two groups. Even the way in which they communicate can be different.

Through it all, understanding the priorities of each generation, respecting what they feel is important, while still effectively communicating the needs and expectations of each group through the process, takes some patience, time and understanding, Vyhnalek says.

Vyhnalek will be offering his insights into effective farm transition planning on the HHD Hospitality Tent Stage each day of the show, with planned sessions at 1 p.m. Sept. 12 and Sept. 14, with a 2:30 p.m. session Sept. 13. Drop by the tent or check out the official show program for a detailed schedule of all events and sessions planned for the stage.

Read more about:

Farm Succession

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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