Leaving Your Farm Legacy Requires Planning

Planning for your legacy can be a difficult mental exercise especially for a farmer or rancher, but it’s absolutely necessary. Alan Trask is an attorney with Ward and Smith and heads up their agriculture law team in Wilmington, North Carolina. He suggests a few steps starting with asking clients how they’re positioned to enjoy their success.

I know that sounds selfish for them, but it is something that I want them to think about because it is a really, really tough job. As you get older it wears on you physically and emotionally and mentally… farming is not for the faint of heart.

Trask recognizes that there may be differences of opinion between generations on how the farm is to be run.

Maybe they want to be a little more entrepreneurial about it, maybe they want to change the offering from a row crop offering to you know, sort of a local produce offering whatever the case may be. But there’s quite often a divide there, and the number one thing I would encourage our clients to think about in considering succession planning is, where are you? Where are the people you want to leave the business to, if that’s your plan, and what is that divide? What is that gap, if any, and if there is one, how can we bridge it?

Trask says the hardest consideration might be if a farmer has no one to pass the business to.

I understand why getting comfortable with the idea of bringing someone else in to ultimately take the business or liquidating the business or altogether changing the nature of the business. All things that seem totally foreign and out of touch with having your hands in the dirt for 30, 40, 50 years, but are important things to think about. Sort of reframe the mindset. We talk with folks a lot about that, and it can be an emotionally difficult exercise, but one that that we consider to be pretty necessary if you want to achieve your you know achieve the goals.