Farm Progress

College Farmer: Get a succession plan in order for the next generation of farmers.

November 16, 2017

2 Min Read
LETTING GO: Turning the farm over to the next generation can be difficult. However, talking about your vision for the farm can help. The next generation of farmers is ready to listen and lead.

By Laura Bardot

As graduation slowly approaches, I keep finding myself asking, “What’s next?” Between the final projects and full-time job applications, the daunting question is always there. What am I going to do after graduation?

Hopefully, I can land a decent gig in the ag communications field, but there are fields I have been wondering about lately: my fields back home on the farm.

As I look to my family farm, I think, “What’s next? What is going to happen to the farm in 10 to 20 years?” In today’s world, fewer people are returning to the farm; therefore, the average age of farmers is constantly rising. Both of my older siblings have moved away from the farm and plan on having careers in agriculture, but production agriculture isn’t it. So the question “What’s next with the farm?” continues to turn over in my mind.

Succession planning is crucial for any operation. Many people do not think about the future or about what is going to happen to their operation when they are gone. The best time to start planning for the future is now.

Start young
If you have children, include them in the daily chores and keep them involved on the farm. I would highly recommend getting them involved in the local 4-H program — or enroll them in agriculture education classes at their high school.

As kids of this generation “carpet-farm” and run around the barn, they say different things about what they want to be when they grow up: doctor, ballerina, teacher or even princess. Yet, not very many of them say they want to be a farmer. What can we do to keep the youth of today involved in production agriculture?

Find a plan
I’m sure when you started your operation or took over from the previous owner, you had a vision or a plan of what the farm or ranch was going to look like. Like many of you, my parents want that vision to carry on through my siblings and me. We are fortunate to have been so involved on the farm growing up; but now, since we are all older and have started our own lives, we aren’t sure what is going to happen to the farm.

While the future is unknown — we don’t know what the weaned calves will bring, or what the corn prices will do — we can ensure the future of agriculture is in good hands by investing today.

People are always going to need to eat, and we are going to need farmers to cultivate food. Make sure the family farm stays in the family by planning today — and who knows, maybe more kids will want to be farmers when they grow up.

Bardot is a University of Missouri science and agricultural journalism student. Email her at [email protected].


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