Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - Partners in grain
Book offers 'ice breaker' for family succession NO ONE PLANS TO FAIL, BUT FAILING TO PLAN IS SOMETHING THAT OFTEN DERAILS THE FARM SUCCESSION PROCESS. A NEW PUBLICATION OFFERS HELP FOR FAMILIES TRYING TO MANAGE SUCCESSION Farm succession planning is often a complex issue to tackle for farm businesses and families. according to Judy Wilkinson, co-author of the grDc supported A guide to succession: sustaining families and farms, some of the complexities can be alleviated by starting the process when a new generation joins the business, rather than when an older generation wants to leave. “When a succession plan is triggered by a situation change – death, debt, drought, divorce, daughter-in-law, diversification, down-sizing – it is often more emotional than if the planning is proactive,” says Judy, who is a community support consultant with rural solutions sa. she is also a partner in a family farming business. she says the aim is to address as many options as possible, which is why a succession plan needs to be reviewed as circumstances change, and continually reviewed over time. on average, this process can take from one to 10 years, depending on the level of complexity of the family and the business. Despite the unique nature of each family’s succession plan, Judy says that sharing experiences is a crucial part of the planning process. over the past six years she has been involved in succession planning meetings with her co-author, lyn sykes. lyn has many years experience in facilitating family meetings and lecturing in succession planning. Their experiences brought them to the realisation that a publication drawing on that experience would be a valuable aid to stimulating discussion and supporting the succession process. “i am a great believer in the value of people telling their story,” Judy says. “in storytelling, our thoughts can be put in order, and others can reflect these back in questions and comments, so we hear our story from a new perspective. This helps us to clarify what we know and to consider our decisions.” A guide to succession: sustaining families and farms is in three sections – guiding principles, case studies, and tips and checklists. The first section of this ‘user-friendly’ publication, offers guiding principles from professionals who may contribute to the succession planning process – an agronomist, an accountant, a lawyer, a financial planner and a generation consultant. “Farming businesses can often have four generations actively involved: veterans (born before 1946), boomers (1946 to 1964), generation X (1965 to 1977) and generation Y (1979 to 1994),” Judy says. “understanding the different motivations, characteristics and needs of these groups is essential for constructive planning to occur.” The case studies are drawn from real life experiences. each one explains why the family came together, provides a diagrammatic representation of the family, lists assets and liabilities and details the agreements made by the family and their comments about those agreements. The final section provides tips and checklists to help in the initiation, development and implementation of a plan. Judy and lyn see the book as a resource to help ‘break the ice’, to stimulate and support communication about succession planning, and to help increase understanding. But they say it is not a ‘recipe book’ of ready-made succession plans. Judy and lyn encourage families to start succession planning from the front end, when a new generation is entering the business, as this provides an environment where people are encouraged to set up good communication and planning for the future of the business. Back- end planning becomes necessary when someone is leaving and no plan has been developed. “The earlier you start the more options you have.” A guide to succession: sustaining families and farms was supported by the grDc in collaboration with other research and development corporations. it is available free from ground cover Direct (www.grdc.com. au/director/events/ bookshop). GRDC Research Code RSS00002 More information: Judy Wilkinson, 08 8866 2287, firstname.lastname@example.org SUCCESSION PLANNING PARTNERS IN GRAIN GROUND COVER 3 Judy Wilkinson, co-author of A guide to succession: sustaining families and farms, a publication designed to stimulate discussion and support the succession process.
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