Over 80 Farmer Image

As the farming population of boomers ages, so does the over eighty crowd. These aging patriarchs and matriarchs are still ruling farms, some with a heavy hand. This is not a happy situation for the twenty-something grandchildren who are dreaming of establishing their farming careers after college. It is also the cause of many sleepless nights and marital strife for the couple caught in the middle between a stubborn farming father, and growing adult children who want to know what “THE PLAN” is.

Let’s define “the plan”.

It is knowing when granddad is going to transfer ownership of assets. The lawyers may have cautioned him about not “ruling from the grave”, but he is keen on tying up his assets for as long as possible and not transferring title to land or moving shares. Is this due to fear of loss of wealth, avoidance of conflict, or just the stubborn price to keep a tight fist of control till death?

Gracious grandparents have ample personal wealth to live out their days on this earth with style and dignity. They are happy to shift ownership of the business with a warm hand, not a cold one. These folks grew up in times of depression and great financial strife, but they are not going to let their “money scripts” tie up the growth and passions of their grandchildren. They also will not be bullied into helping keep all of their own children economically equal because they know that is a foolish approach to fairness.

The plan also involves finances for assisted living or long-term care, should the over 80 parents need that kind of care. Wills are updated, enduring powers of attorney in place, and a healthcare directive is signed and ready to go.

The next piece of the plan is for the “sandwiched” late 50, early sixty couple. For 25 to 30 years now they have scrimped and deferred gratification in order to grow equity outside the grasp of grandpa. They have also created, and expanded Grandad’s wealth by farming his assets, and providing him a handsome income. Only trouble is, they are tired, want a new chapter of life, and are in a quandary as to how to help set up the next generation when they are still stuck with debt and not enough assets they can call their own. Oh, and sometimes there is an unresolved divorce at this age that is causing huge uncertainty. The 50s/60s couple needs a personal financial snapshot. If they are going to stay in their current housing, they just saved $400K that is not needed for a new home in town. If they continue to travel for short periods and live simply enjoying grandchildren, things look pretty sweet. The part of the certainty of the plan that escapes them is the date that they will inherit the grandparent’s assets, and how much of those assets will be going to non-farm siblings. Ouch. Wouldn’t it be nice if the assets were all transferred before death so that each person could get on with their business growth? Or a least have a greater share of farm’s net income going to the folks who are slaving away in the fields and the barn?

Then the plan extends to the grandchildren who are the fresh new labour and energy of the farm. They are future business heirs and partners. They will work much harder when they actually own something and have what is called “skin in the game,” Debt servicing has a way of making the youngest generation pay attention to costs, market returns, and cash flow. They learn to crunch numbers and work smarter, not just harder. They are also marrying at this stage and having babies, which calls for family time. All work and no play is the perfect set-up for early divorce and grumpy people.

So what is my warning?

Stop the procrastination on your farm now. Have a joint meeting with your key advisors and the eighty-year-olds on your farm. You can no longer be a slave to a system that is not fair. Accountants can plan for tax efficiency. Lawyers can draw up new share agreements, wills, and powers of attorney. Financial planners can give the 80-year-olds financial certainty and security with their pensions and personal wealth kept for their needs. Coaches can facilitate the courageous conversations where each generation talks about needs, wants, and the timeline to get things done. Counselors can deal with grief, loss and divorce healing.

Aging parents may suffer from unwise decision making when their minds start to fail, and dementia becomes a reality. Boomers die from heart and stroke disease, cancer, and accidents, which can leave the remaining spouse in a difficult situation if there is no contingency plan to follow except fighting with the in-laws for control of business assets.

The young farmers can’t stand the “pain of not knowing the plan” and being in limbo. They are wired to have action, and to have results.

Wise farm families are always talking, listening, and making adjustment as necessary to the business plan, succession timeline, and the estate concerns. This is not a one-time event, but a journey.

Unfortunately, I have encountered far too many over 80 men and women who are wielding undeserved control over the future of the farm. Please embrace change as a good process, and ask for help in making the changes need to preserve a happy farm family legacy, not a war of words and battle for power and control.

Act your age. It is time to shift your mindset from control of the business, to creating a harmonious legacy.

Life is short. Death is certain. Make a new plan now!

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
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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
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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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