“I wasn’t able to talk  for over  two years about what happened with my grandfather”, a young farmer confides as he describes a bitter battle over the transition of land titles from his father’s father to him.

I am concerned about  the many threads of conversations across farm audiences this winter that weave a sad tale of loss, grief and exasperation with those farmers who are over eighty and are not finishing their farming careers well.

Leaving a lasting legacy as a farmer is not just about money and land. It also involves how you wish to be remembered for your character, and how you want to resolve conflicts before your passing. Do you want a family tree that is broken, or flourishing? Do you realize that the next generation and the younger farmers are just as passionate about being a great farmer as you were in your late twenties?

What is stopping you from gifting and transferring with a warm hand, an open generous hand on top, rather than a clenched fist?

I have my hunches.

1. Money equals security. You are afraid that you will not have enough to live on for the next 20 years, even though you have $500K in the bank, and shares in the company. You aren’t even enjoying the wealth you have now because your health keeps you housebound.

Ralph Waldo Emerson had something when he said , “your health is your wealth.”

Your pension income, your debt free living, and your personal wealth will keep you going. Why not transfer those farm assets and see the pride of ownership shine on your grandson’s face? Great family relationships ensure that even is you are close to dying broke, your loved ones will not “put you out on the street…or gravel road !”

2. Losing control is hard. Your friends are all dying and you certainly cannot control that. Facing death is hard for you, so you deny the invitations to update wills, and invoke the Power of Attorney that will protect your affairs with your trusted advisor now. Is holding on for you the only thing that gives you a sense of power and control over your own destiny? Yikes. I would choose to be rich in relationship over being a lonely land baron any day. Families are supposed to be a sanctuary of love and nurture, not nasty fight centers of conflict avoidance and deep hurt.

How about extending the hand of forgiveness and forging a new reconciled chapter in your family? How about dying without any regrets?

3.   Hard times could happen again. You recall the depression as a young person who struggled. You are proud of the wealth you have built. You might sense that others see you as greedy, but you don’t care anymore. Your heart is so hardened that not even your wife’s pleading for family connection and harmony can get you to budge. Your word rules the day. You think interest and debt is evil, but do you realize that transfer of assets to your son, daughter, and grandchildren, could be a big boost to debt servicing capacity of the next generation. Your young grandchild can get young farmer rebates and loans that he or she can manage. They weren’t born in the early eighties to remember high interest rates, but they are financially astute and smart managers. Please trust them !

4. Communication is hard to restart once broken. You are desperate to have some form of communication, but unfortunately the chaotic conversations of TV sitcoms  replace the voices of your family members.

We honour the fact that you have worked hard, struggled, and overcome many of the stresses of agriculture. We don’t see workaholism and family dictatorship as a badge of honour. The younger generation is much more collaborative in their approach. If do not wish to help them get started in building equity with transfer of your asset, they will seek non-family joint venture partners.

5. Character and legacy. What do you want written on your headstone? How would you like to be remembered? Are there special possessions like a gun collection, tools, or cars that you might like to share stories about with your beneficiaries?  There is a song that says “when it is all said and done, things will just not matter.”

Pinball Clemons spoke to the Canadian Young Farmers Forum  2012 AGM, and he said farmers are super heroes. He also noted that strong healthy families are the foundation of everything else going right in the world. Our rural towns need strong families and farm businesses in order to be sustainable and thrive. Imagine if every farmer in their eighties took their legacy to heart, and did the things to finish well.

What would it look like to have grandparents celebrating the success of their farming children and grandchildren?

6. It is not all or nothing. Wealth can be transferred in stages, but a plan needs to be legally binding and well thought out for tax planning and meeting expectations of all generations. It is not a “you win, I lose” type of scenario. There are many creative options available when you use a great team of advisors who understand your intent and why you are making or avoiding certain decisions. Farmers are fiercely independent entrepreneurs. The new crop of leaders is going to use a collaborative approach, team up with non-family and seek out new innovation.

7.It is not cool to be a laggard.  Remember how good it felt to finally get that new or “gently used” piece of equipment to make your farm tasks easier and be more efficient in your work? The folks who seek new tools early are called the early adaptors, and they are the ones that see profits first, long before the laggards, the last ones to change or even know what happened. Be cool. Be someone who is ahead of the game, rather than the unwise one who is left behind . Use common sense and your wisdom of your years, to be adaptable and trust your team of advisors to help you finish your farming career well.

8. There is still a place for you on the farm. You will never fully retire from farming, but your role as you age is now different. Take on the position of an elder mentor.  Be the  fellow who folks like to come for a historical perspective on how to be resilient, and yet practically optimistic about the future of agriculture.

I have some very wise, well-balanced over seventy farm coach clients. I just wish I could clone their skills and personalities to inject a sense of hope for those younger farmers who are feeling so stuck with a grandparent that refuses to finish well.

What is your choice going to be?  Choose to resolve conflict and leave a great farm family legacy.

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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