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If April 20th is the deadline on your farm to have the machinery field ready, you likely aren’t in the house reading this on paper, but perhaps you’re on my website blog, killing time in the field waiting or enjoying auto-steer.

Farmers are problem solvers and fixers, but I don’t think we anticipated the ripple effect of a pandemic on our families, our farms, and our future. I’ve spent the last few weeks anchored at my farm office, calling out to farmers, listening, and drilling deep to share a well of hope. On a zoom call with fellow Hudson Institute coaches, one coach quoted Andrew Grove, who was the COO of Intel as saying, “a crisis always ends. What matters is how we come out on the other side.”

 We have to put a crop in and tend to livestock. We have some gifts of time now. “Do not waste the crisis, as there are opportunities to discover,” said Norm Trainor of www.covenantgroup.com, encouraging business to thrive in times of uncertainty.

Clarity of expectations, the certainty of timelines and agreements, and a commitment to action are the three C’s I have been sharing with farm families for a long time. Let’s take a next step approach to seize questions to find clarity and create more certainty in April 2020.

Staying on Track with Your Vision for Family, Farm, and Ownership During Uncertain Times

What are your current visions for your family, your farm, and your ownership?

Family Vision

Guiding principles, values, connectedness, harmony, communication.

I think this article from Forbes is an excellent read on how family discussions of the current reality can build security and a sense of confidence. We need to have austerity plans and cope with losses.

Farm Vision

Business plan, compensation, contingency plans, decision making systems to deal with future uncertainty, business values, alignment with farm goals,

Ownership Vision

Succession plan, estate plan, transfer of wealth, enjoyment of new roles, ownership.

Trainor coaches us to work on:

  • strategy
  • structures
  • systems/processes
  • financial management

He says, “now is the time to redefine our performance, our work.” BDO Canada is developing a new financial benchmarking report for the grains, beef, and dairy sector. Are you using benchmarking and “farming the numbers” on your farm?

Giving Gifts of Farm Assets With a Warm Hand

I know what you are thinking, “UGH, Elaine, this sounds like hard work!” Since when did a farmer avoid hard work? When you measure what matters and give everyone a voice on your farm team, you will be creating an attractive, profitable farm culture. It’s all about what you believe, your core values, and your vision as a family. How you behave in the family dynamic and in the business arena, and then how you make decisions.

Believe.
Behave.
Decide.

This the glue that is going to anchor you well through the winds of this current storm. Sharing your fears, your ideas, and your healthy ways to cope with loss will make all of your stronger.

[Tweet “Use these tips and strategies to stay on track with your vision for the #family, #farm, and ownership during these uncertain times.”]

Dr.Nikki Gerrard’s research,  “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” found that communication, connection with the community, and an ability to celebrate gives farm families resilience in tough times.

Here are some helpful questions to get you started:

  • What is your vision for family participation in the farm business?
  • What is most important to you? (Ask for the What I Want pdf. at www.elainefroese.com/contact)
  • What do you think is best for the farm? Sharing financial realties is important here.
  • What do you think is best for the family?
  •  Who gets to farm with you? Based on what criteria? Education, skills, other work experience, conduct. 
  • Who ultimately gets to decide who is on your farm team?
  •  Do you love the roles that you have on your farm today?
  • What does management need to do to support your goals and roles?
  • What are the biggest strengths you bring to the farm?
  • What are some of the areas that need improvement?
  • What is your learning plan to grow more skilled?
  •  Is everyone on the farm team happy with how they are compensated?

Is 2020 deemed now to be a lean and mean kind of year? What family income level is enough and reasonable? Do you really know what farm perks are covering for your family’s lifestyle? (Go to www.elainefroese.com/contact to ask for Wittman’s compensation worksheet.)

Performance appraisals of family members are rare on most farms, as labor is precious, and many folks “put up and shut up” rather than address conflict resolution. Daily feedback as to what is working well and what could be improved is useful for conversations to keep performance in check. The ability to express your emotions and create solutions are two very positive conflict skills to hone in times of high stress.

Courageous conversations can be parked to the forum of the family meeting and can be facilitated by an outside party if necessary. As tensions are high this spring with the added disruption and life-changing adaptations to the pandemic, we need to be intentional about how we manage our stress and conflict daily.

Farm transition - communication

Let’s remind each other that we cannot read each other’s minds. Family business meetings are key to getting action and resolving conflict in a safe and respectful manner. Decide if your goals are for the operation of the farm business and have a production, operational meeting. If you are more concerned about setting a strategy to define transition plans and processes, then focus on meetings to look at the farm business agreements for operating, owning, and wealth transfer.

Talking as a family business and giving everyone a respected voice at the table will help you navigate this new adventure and disruption with a deeper sense of security and confidence. We need to creatively cope with our losses and ask for help to find practical ways to keep farming well, profitably, and long.

I’m here to listen and coach you to discover a workable vision for your farm, your family, and your future. I work on video conference (zoom) and the phone. Calls and texts from your tractor cab are welcome: 204-534-7466.

 The time to act is 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.

$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

Contact Elaine