I am extremely grateful for the 3 neighbours who showed up with 3 extra combines to harvest on the last sunny Saturday of September, it really made a huge difference in reducing the stress on our farm. When I relayed this story to an easterner he said “Wow, they still do that out there ! Neighbours here are so competitive for land, that never happens anymore !”
So, are you cultivating harmonious relationships with the landowners next door, or are you just hoping they will read your mind and know what your farm vision is for expanding your land base with your successor?
As a professional speaker, I have special opportunities to sit in the audience at conventions and glean some new perspectives that may be helpful to my readers. I recently heard a presentation on “landowner relationships”.
Some pro-active farmers are doing a “retiring producer needs assessment” with older farmers and planting the seeds of an ongoing conversation. They ask questions about the $ /year income stream that is needed, if there is a plan in place, and whether or not the farmer has an “exit plan”. Retiring farmers are typically really concerned that they know they should have a plan to exit, but in reality there is no plan. Sometimes this conversation can last 5 years. This is not a “hostile takeover” kind of talk , but one lead by the aging farmer, with grace and respect.
Are you working at introducing your successor to the landowners that you deal with? Farmers like to know who is going to be caring for their land, and they want great stewards to farm their land well. The retiring farmer also wants to do business with someone who is transparent, honest, trustworthy, and pays their bills on time. The renter also wants to make sure that the landowners feel like they are “well taken care of.”
Do you know who your “best prospects” are to rent or buy land from ? Some keener negotiators are talking to their best prospects at least monthly. They are “talking to them every chance they get, and also trying to create chances to talk with them !” This is relationship selling, mostly done on the phone, sometimes by text. The aging farmers at community meetings for the school, curling club, fair, 4-H, farm groups, and church are also not left unnoticed.

Be sensitive to what the aging landowner is going through. Some folks do not want their land to change hands until they die.
Pick the right “tailgate time” to have a casual conversation about the farmer’s future plans for the land. This is not community news, this is a confidential talk.
Custom working the land gives you an opportunity to show how well you farm and care for the earth.
See if there are economic enticers such as helping the aging farmer sell some of his equipment or get it ready for auction.
Consider finder’s fees for those folks who understand the relationship selling process who can give you workable referrals.
Beware of people “pretending” to be dealmakers when they really don’t want to have conversations about renting or selling. Be sure that the farmer has the ability to make a rental or sale decision.

Start with a list of prospects with whom you would like to form relationships.
Good solid relationships with retiring farmers may take years to build.
Help solve the retiring farmer’s problems by selling outdated equipment, do custom work for them.
Preface your comments with “when you feel ready to retire…”
Have your agreements in writing. (I recall a farm family with many elderly landowners who didn’t like paper contracts, but the new generation of young farmers made written agreements a condition of renting, clearly just their business policy.)
Make sure you have all the substantial conversations with all the important decision makers present at the same time.
Set the expectations ahead of time for the assessment survey, “ I’d like to ask you a set of questions that may sound “hokey” but they are important for all of us to be clear what everyone needs out of this land rent process.” The assessment survey is created by the buyer/renter to get a clear understanding of what the retiring farmer needs.
Look inside yourself. Are you a good manager? Do you have great management capability and empathy with a heart to care about your neighbour’s well-being?
Sometimes an outside advisor like an accountant or agronomist may have the facilitation skills to bring the interested parties together for a “social” discussion of the possibilities. This works if the parties have similar values and can say “I like the way you think, you think like I think. “
When the terms of agreement are put together seek out separate legal counsel and get the deal done.
Many retiring farmers are happy when they know they have put their land into the care of good hands. Some exiting dads take a salary for five years and are happy to be driving equipment in the busy times of spring and fall. Other retiring farmers may take on the role of “landlord relations” for the farm team.

Some folks are so attached to their land and their “iron” that they are not capable of letting go or making new agreements with new tenants or owners. There is a huge issue in agricultural circles with “avoidance behavior”, so if the fellow that you want to buy or rent land from crosses the street when you approach, you likely have damaged the trust relationship.

Here’s some homework for the winter months:
What is the vision for your farm growth for the next 3 years?
What is your REAL net worth ?
If you are planning to exit farming have you done your tax planning?
What is your life going to be like when you are no longer the main farm manager?
Which neighbours do I want to continue building a relationship with because I truly care about their total well-being ? (not just their land !)
Copy this article and share it with your retiring farming friends.

Elaine Froese, CSP,CAFA, CHICoach helps farm families talk and act on tough issues.
Visit for her books, ideal Christmas gifts that don’t need dusting. Call 204-534-7466 if you would like to rent her brain for coaching or speaking. Find her on FB and Youtube at “Farm family coach”. Send cards of encouragement to Box 957, Boissevain , MB. R0K 0E0

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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.


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“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
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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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