I came across this quotation recently,
“ I’ve learned to envision the ideal end to any project before I begin it now – even the best gigs don’t last forever. Nor should they.” (Samin Nosrat)
It made me think that this is a good idea for those young people entering the farming industry now. Yes you have to have the conversation about your involvement in the business now and in the future. But what about thinking of how you will exit the industry? This is often seen as a negative move but with proper planning this can be seen as a positive transfer to another life stage. And as always if planned in plenty of time can be something to look forward to.
I think we all recognise that how the family farm is handed on in the future has to change. It cannot be something that people find difficult to discuss, it is part of the business plan. In order for those businesses to survive there must be a robust succession plan. I keep telling people – none of us get out of this alive – so not to plan is just like not bothering to make silage for the winter.
It is good that we are living longer healthier lives and farmers should take advantage of this by creating a purpose for themselves after handing on the farm to the next generation in good time. By good time I mean when the next generation still have the enthusiasm and drive to rise to the future challenges the business will surely face. It cannot be acceptable to have ‘successors’ still not having the responsibility of running the business when they enter their 40s and even 50s! And having responsibility does not mean – yes you have responsibility but only if you do what I agree with!
Farmers often don’t realise how their skills are readily transferrable to other ventures. Some of the simplest family succession meetings I have facilitated have been where the parents have entered into another venture. They always find it is a lot easier than farming! So maybe the question is not ‘when are you going to retire’ but ‘what are you going to do next’?
Exiting the industry deserves as much thought as entering it. Having a plan at the start encourages a more positive attitude to handing on responsibility and allowing the next generation to have their turn. – “even the best gigs don’t last forever. Nor should they.”