Last month Statistics Canada released the results of the 2016 Census of Agriculture. Like many of you, I was eager to read up on the results and discover how our industry has changed in the five years since the last survey was conducted.
Some findings, such as the edging up of the average age of farm operators from 54 in 2011 to 55 in 2016, aren’t all that surprising. After all, aging is a fact of life. Other findings, however, gave me pause. For example, Statistics Canada found that even though the average age of farmers has increased, only one in 12 operations have a formal succession plan outlining how the farm will be transferred to the next generation.
In other words, the vast majority of Canada’s farm operators have not taken steps to safeguard the businesses they’ve worked long and hard to build.
Experts in the field agree there are many reasons farmers shy away from succession planning, including fear: fear of change, of creating conflict within the family, of losing one’s identity as a farmer, and of confronting the fact that not even the healthiest among us live forever. Then there’s the time required to craft a plan and implement it when there are still animals to feed, seeds to plant and suppliers and customers to work with, plus all the other tasks that contribute to a farm’s long-term success. Perhaps one of the most significant barriers, though, is the daunting scope of work the term “succession planning” entails.
Though we can’t do that work for you, the editorial teams behind Agrobiomass, Canadian Poultry, Fruit & Vegetable, Manure Manager, Potatoes in Canada and Top Crop Manager have partnered to help ease the way with our first annual Succession Planning Week.
From June 12 to 16, we’ll be delivering a daily e-newsletter straight to your inbox, packed with information and resources to help you with succession planning in your operation. Each e-newsletter will offer practical advice and suggestions you can use, whether you’re an experienced farm owner wondering if your succession plan needs some tweaking or an aspiring successor wondering how to start the succession conversation.
But that’s not the only conversation we want to kick-start. Share your succession planning tips and success stories on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #AgSuccessionWeek. The best of the best will be published on our website (FamilyFarmSuccession.ca) and included in Friday’s e-newsletter.
We hope Succession Planning Week offers valuable information to help you keep your operation growing, now and for generations to come.