We need a farm business plan to get our operation to where we want it to be in the next 10 to 20 years. Our son told us he’s interested in coming back to run the farm (and we want him to), but he hasn’t been willing to leave his full-time job yet. He’s the only one of our four children with any interest in the farm. Should we start a plan, even though we’re not sure whether he’ll come back to the farm? — D.R. & M.R., Indiana
You first need to sit down for a heart-to-heart meeting with your son about the future. Tell him what it would mean to the two of you to have him come back to continue the family operation. Share your hopes for the future of the operation — what you hope it will be like even when you’re no longer involved.
Ask him what questions and concerns he has about returning to the farm. Why does he feel hesitant about leaving his full-time job? Maybe he doesn’t have to leave his full-time job yet and can work on the farm part time, or during busy seasons.
Do his worries have anything to do with the current downturn in the ag economy? Or is he unsure how the job change will work out financially for his family? Get a clear understanding, so you can address his concerns.
Then, explain your desire to create a strategic business plan for the farm’s future. Ask if he would be willing to be part of the planning process, along with you and the farm’s other primary stakeholders. Would such a plan increase his confidence about returning?
A future-oriented plan will be a major asset for your farm. These plans are designed to be flexible, so your plan doesn’t need to hinge on knowing for certain that your son will return. Even if he tables the decision for later, your operation will still be well-served if you start the plan now.
An experienced adviser or consultant can guide you through the planning process and help you stay accountable in carrying out goals or projects.
Frye is president and CEO of Water Street Solutions and regular contributor to Farm Futures. [email protected]