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“I am leaving the farm business. I can’t take the indecision anymore. I was hoping for a fair ‘family’ price for buying out my Dad, but he wants ‘fair market value’”.  A long pause on the phone line, I as the coach am letting the silence do the heavy lifting (Susan Scott’s term). This farmer has invested almost 3 decades with his family business and now he is cutting his losses and leaving.

Greed is defined as an “excessive desire, especially for wealth or food.”

You may have your own definition of greed, and I am very sure you know a family story about the ill outcomes of excessive desire to control a farm or demand too much money from the next generation.

I see greed rear its ugly face when families cry out for support as they watch the non-farm siblings come home to roost after the death of the bachelor uncle. They are looking for their share of the gold with no regard for the sweat equity or intended roll-over to the younger business partner.

Fear of not having enough money after 75 is another common scenario, especially if the one holding the assets has a ‘rags-to-riches’ story. Even J.K. Rowling, the billionaire writer of the Harry Potter series confessed to Oprah that she still worries sometimes about money!

Many farm folks wish they had a pot of gold or a fairy god-mother to bestow more cash flow into the farm business after the tough weather disaster they’ve faced this year.

If you can’t increase revenues on the farm, then can you decrease expenses? Likely not much. Can you sell off assets that you don’t use or need?  Do you have to “buy out” some non-farm siblings?

How much is enough?

Most people don’t want to talk about greed. It’s one of those Undisscusabulls™ on farm teams. As a coach I ask the founders “how much money is enough?” They don’t like the question, and they usually don’t have a quick answer for me. If they are bound and determined to give all heirs the exact same amount of inheritance, it usually puts excessive pressure on the farm business to come up with the cash shortfalls to keep things even for each adult child. This is one of the tough issues in agriculture that we need to have more dialogue.

The numbers on the balance sheet are getting more zeros behind them. The quarter of land we purchased in l987 for $60,000 would now sell for $220,000. The tillage machine we demonstrated to smooth ruts in our water-logged fields is $60,000, called a super-coulter. I call that a super expensive investment to flatten a field!

The more zeros, the more greed. We may be asset rich in land and machinery, but families are stressed out with paying their current debt. They also aren’t paying attention to the high interest rates of credit card debt that is creating a huge burden of debt that is hard to climb out of.

We all need to play after working hard, but some toys for the boys are racking up the financial stress card. The ATV’s, boats, campers, snow machines are all for good fun, but has the debt load for things that don’t generate money gotten out of hand?

WHOA. No one is telling me I have to sell my boat Elaine! Okay, then what are you going to do to manage your debt and accumulate some savings to be able to mortgage a buy out of your father’s portion of the farm?  “Send my wife to work.”  She is already holding done two jobs and she can’t take the financial stress anymore.  Her opinion is that the whole farm team needs to sit down with a farm financial advisor and figure out what is making money, and what needs to go. She does the books and she knows there are few creative options left to get ahead, especially after the crop disaster we’ve seen in 2010.

“Okay, let’s sit down as a family and talk about our money issues. Is greed messing with our heads?” “Can the parents forgive some debt that is owed to them by the younger generation?”

1. What does money mean to you? For some farm dads I think it is a huge source of pride and validation. If they can’t call themselves the owners anymore, who are they? If they don’t have a half-million in the bank, they just don’t feel safe for the future. They don’t realize that fights about “fair family prices” may help them preserve the gold and yet loose the relationship with their farming son who will leave.

2. Are you being greedy or unrealistic in your market or selling expectations? You can get an objective neutral assessment from appraisers, accountants, or your farm management specialist.

3. How much money is enough? You have enough to enjoy your level of living or lifestyle.  You have enough to gift to your adult children and grandchildren, while you are alive. You have enough to give to charity.  Do you have enough to cover your extended health care costs, should you need personal health care? Not everyone ends up in the nursing home.

Some see money as a form of energy that should be flowing, not getting stuck in tight fists and creating family feuds. Talk about your sense of a “fair family price” for purchasing farm assets. Some non-business heirs may also be interested in investing in farm land and having sound rental agreements to the farming siblings.

There are choices and options to manage money well and without a lot of drama.

Remember, it is your farm, your family and your choice.

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.

$15

Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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+1-204-534-7466 | elaine(at)elainefroese.com

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