Generation farm transfers involve much more than land and assets, Ron Hanson, University of Nebraska professor of agribusiness, told audiences at World Dairy Expo last week. Many family issues attach themselves to the process, too. 

Ironically, most dairy farms avoid discussing these family issues of ownership succession, he notes. “You must discuss the ‘what-if’ scenarios in advance,” Hanson advises.

Some parents may ignore these issues entirely and just assume that their children will work it out later by themselves. Meanwhile, everything remains a big secret. This element of surprise only invites a family failure, he says. Often, the final result is nothing but bitterness and feuding, which splits a family apart for generations.

“Succession issues must eventually be discussed by all of the family members involved and then resolved to everyone’s agreement to allow for a successful transition,” urges Hanson. “Avoiding these issues could have disastrous consequences later.”

Have a clear vision for the future of your family dairy business and then discuss these ideas with all of your children — especially those who return home with the hope of gaining farm ownership.