“This meeting gave me hope that the process of succession planning does not have to be a painful experience” a farmer wrote on his feedback sheet after I had spent 90 minutes passionately explaining the emotional factors affecting farm family communication in business transfers.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” says Proverbs. I am writing this on the plane home from the Peace River region where BC Grain Producers in Dawson Creek and two farm families near Spirit River and the Alberta Peace Region gave me great hope that some families do get things right.

The Peace River region had a bad 2010 drought, and for some it was the third one too close to the last one. The folks who invited me to conduct family meetings with their successor son were pleased that their accountant also took the time to meet me and share his expertise in activating the details of the dreams and hopes for the farm to continue to be successful.

The “mom” said she was very glad she was moving to a new home, and the daughter-in-law was glad that a time-line was now in place to start packing up her modest home in order to become the key woman on the main yard.

Hoping that things are going to get better is one place to start, it is a mindset to look for positive choices and options to evoke more informed decision making.

The conversations about the move of the parents started in earnest last fall.  The seeds of ideas were planted in fertile minds, but the germination only took root when calls were made to the county about subdivision, taxes, farm deductions, and architects. Once the decision was seen to be the “right thing to do”, Dad really got on board and looked at financing the new home. He also thought about the role he still wants in being able to access his beloved shop on the main yard, and what privacy boundaries he will be glad to give his daughter-in-law in the main farm house that will no longer be “Dad’s”.

Moving is an example of a life change that takes some time to process, and takes a positive attitude to fulfill. The residence issue is a huge “undiscussabull™” in many farm families, and sometimes is left way too late in the age stage game, so that the move is to a nursing home rather than a  smaller home that compliments the activity of the next generation.

Hopes can also be dashed when the neighbours start sharing their opinions too freely.  “I think it is stupid that you are building in the country, down the road from the main yard…why aren’t you building in town?” Not everyone gets juiced with coffee shop chatter, they prefer close proximity to grandchildren and welding tools (not necessarily at the same time!). I advise my farm families to be united as a couple in their decision making and quit worrying about what the neighbours are thinking, because the family is in charge of their life, the gossips don’t dictate the family’s life.

Coping with a strategy to be creative for financing a drought-riddled (or excessively wet) crop is another challenge on the hope scale. You need to grab the bull by the horns and look at where the dollars for inputs for the new crop are coming from. You might want a farm management specialist to review your numbers and your margins. Denying that the dollars are not looking good is not going to magically make them better. In BC some alluded to farmers who are not looking at their balance sheets carefully, because they prefer to just hope for the best, and not face reality.

Shying away from reality is not something that successful farm families do. They face the tough issues, address the problem, look at options, and pick a workable solution. Sometimes this takes extensive research and other times it takes a very intense, honest, intimate five minute conversation.

The solution to the parent’s need for financing for the new home was generated by the accountant in less than 20 minutes, and it left new hope for the younger generation to spend energy and assets on working capital and debt servicing of farm assets. Hope springs up when advisors can let go of their “turf” wars and genuinely seek out the best options for their client’s interests, not the advisor’s ego.

The wide sky, rolling hills, and undulating bush gives the Peace Region a beautiful canvas on which to paint hopes and dreams. The young children I played with have lots of room to romp, chase calves, ride ponies, and enjoy the freedom of the farm.

If you are caught this winter in the doldrums stage of the cycle of renewal, with a sense of disappointment, or entrapment, what are you going to do to exit that chapter?  Do you need to let go of something?  Do you need to take on a better understanding of your financial situation? Do you need to learn more about the Growing Forward/Taking Stock programs to help you succeed? Do you need to engage a financial planner and start a TFSA…a tax-free savings account?

We all learn new things every day, sometimes though we are not paying attention.

Hang on to hope. Look up to the wide sky, breathe deeply, and ponder what choices lie ahead of you.

Make the call to an advisor you trust.  Engage your farm family team in meaningful purposeful conversation about your future vision.  Go play with your grandchildren.  A merry heart is good medicine.

PS. Invite me back to the Peace. I really love the people and the place.

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.


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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