Long harvest hours give you time to think about what is working on your farm and what needs to be tweaked. Our thoughts drive our actions. It’s time to check your mindset to consider how you can create more certainty for yourself as the owner, and the next generation who wants a piece of equity along with certainty for their future. This mindset shifts will put you in the right frame of mind for successful farm transition planning.

[Tweet “A long #harvest season gives you plenty of time to think. Today I encourage #farmers to start thinking about the #farm transition plan. Get in the right frame of mind by making these important #mindset shifts:”]

Secrets of Successful Farm Transition Planning 

secrets to farm transition planning image

When it comes to farm transition planning, sometimes our attitudes and beliefs hold us back. By examining old ideas in a new light, you just might find the breakthrough that will lead you to a successful plan that leaves both you as owner and the next generation satisfied. It takes a mindset shift, so I am sharing 19 ways you can get started.

1. Be Curious

Approach conversations with a desire to find out what the common interest is for you and the next generation. You likely all want a profitable farm, harmonious working relationships, and a clear direction for the growth of the business. Ask, “I am just curious—what is it we all want?”

2. Stop Judging

Adopt a learner mindset and ask, “What am I responsible for?”

3. Embrace Good Choices

We all get to choose our response when pressed with tough questions. Choosing to be kind, gracious, and patient will make farm transition planning easier for all involved (including you!).

4. Talk to Advisors 

Build your team of experts to guide you. Use time on the combine/tractor/truck to talk about timelines for getting your farm transition planning done. Call your lawyer for updates on your will and power of attorney.

farm transition planning talk to advisors

5. Think About Fair Exchange of Value

The Canada Ag Partnership program may have some funds available to you for financing farm transition planning or succession planning. If you still do not have a will, you are foolish. You need to pay for services to protect your family and your future well-being.

6. Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive

Communication with your farm team and your family is the first step. Don’t wait for accidents, health issues, or external threats to your business to force your hand. 

Brene Brown says, “Being clear is kind.” It’s time to explore three key things:

  • Your roles on the farm as you age. What does a good day on the farm look like to you after the harvest of 2020? What roles would you like for your spouse, business partners, and siblings?
  • What do you want to let go of? Handling the books? Crop production decisions? Debt?
  • What do you want to teach the next generation? How are you intentionally being the wise elder mentor? The successor needs a learning plan, especially understanding how to farm the numbers of the business.

7. Evaluate Income Streams 

Money is a key source of tension, and when there is not enough for basic living and debt servicing, something needs to shift. How transparent are you with all the finances, both personal and related to the farm? Why are you holding back?

farm transition planning money image

8. Say Goodbye to Conflict Avoidance 

It’s high time to talk about the tough issues you have been avoiding. Third-party facilitators are a good investment to help you get clear about what needs to be resolved. They can also help model family meetings so you can do them on your own. Do you remember what it was like to own your first piece of land? Your ability to put yourself in the next generation’s shoes and have their perspective will help your conflict communication.

9. Choose Assumption-Free Living 

Love does not read minds, so quit making assumptions about what the other generation is thinking, needing, feeling, and wanting. The best way to challenge assumptions is to ask better questions with grace and kindness.

10. Share the Vision of the Farm

Farm transition planning may involve listening to the next generation about their different visions for the farm. Are you willing to accept a new way of doing things? Can growth continue with different strategies? Are you excited for the next generation to succeed? Can you accept that different is not wrong, just different?

11. Jot Down Timelines

Many folks are more productive and efficient when they have deadlines or target dates to aim for. Can you work out some dates that you will honour so planners can have timelines that are workable?

12. Be Empathetic

Farm women typically are caught as referees between their spouses and their adult children, and they are tired of that game. Seeking to truly understand the concerns of everyone on your farm team is a game-changer approach. Talk does not cook rice. It’s time to get started on your farm transition planning. 

farm transition planning emphatic image

13. Focus and Execute

Take one piece of the journey and just start making your way with small steps. You can break down the many pieces of the plan to make them more manageable and doable.

14. Communicate

Start having more conversations. Formalize them with a family meeting.  Set a date for the end of October or early November when harvest wraps up, and you’ve had a few days to rest.

15. Call Folks Who’ve Done Succession Transition Well 

You can visit with them on the phone while you wait in the truck or combine.

16. Be Outcome-Focused

Visualize what you truly want to happen. See challenges as opportunities for growth and clarity.

17. Be Kind and Practice Good Self-Care

Harvest can be hectic, but it also can have great spaces of solitude for thinking. Shut off the country music. Watch the hawks. Have a good talk with yourself.

18. Set Healthy Boundaries

Just like fence lines or survey markers, you should have boundaries too. Model a culture of respect by choosing your language and tone carefully. Have zero tolerance for profanity. You get the behaviour that you accept. 

19. Avoid Procrastination

Procrastination is killing agriculture. Way too many families are drifting with no clarity of expectations of each other or the future. If your excuse is that you are “too busy to plan,” then I am here to bust all of your excuses. The farming calendar will always be full if that is the mindset you are buying into.

Productive people are positive, communicate well, and set deadlines for action. For optimal success, break your transition tasks into small chunks and keep walking the journey. Who do you need to call today? Farm transition planning takes time and effort—it’s important to keep moving forward.

For more information on successful farm transition planning, check out my video and podcast with Tracy Brunet, called Impact Farm Marketer Transition Planning: Secrets of Success for Founders. You can listen along as you are doing work on the farm. I’m happy to keep you company on the combine!

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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