Next-Generation Farm Decision Making

Finance First

What would it look like to get the next generation making decisions for the farm?

Published on: January 13, 2014

Have you ever felt like you just don't have time to make all of the decisions that need to be made in your farm business? Chances are if your operation is growing, you've felt like that at one time or another.

That may mean you need to be getting others involved in making some of the decisions for the farm. It's a great move for the future of the farm, too – this part of the legacy plan can really make or break a farm transition. When your successor leader is ready and prepared to lead because they've already been making decisions on the farm, you're in a very good situation.

The flip side of the coin is if the farm leader keeps a tight hold on the farm's information and makes all the decisions. And it's true, sharing that can be tough. We might feel like we're giving up our control or that we're letting others in on too much.

The key here is to think about the future of the operation. If we're not letting others in on the information or showing them how we make decisions, then what's going to happen to the farm if you're not around anymore? It could be a very painful future indeed for the next generation – attempting to pick up the pieces and figure out what was going on.

Where to start

Here's one way to get your successor leader more involved in decision-making. As you're making some of the larger decisions for your operation, have your successor leader sit down with you. As you're working through a decision, say out loud what you're taking into consideration.

Be very transparent – literally talk through what you're thinking about. Take them through your whole process. That shows them exactly what you're taking into account as you make the decision. Then they can use that as a model for times when they need to make similar decisions.

Once you've gone through a decision like that together – watch for a similar decision that needs to be made on the farm. Use that opportunity to ask them what they would do – and then have them talk you through their process. You're still there to help if they get stuck or have questions. You get to find out exactly how they arrived at the decision.

Another idea is to go to training or farm seminars together during the off season – and then talk about and plan to implement what you've learned there. That can be a very powerful way for each of you to learn something from each other – and to learn about each other and how you think as you share new ideas and plans.

What will you do to get the next generation on your farm involved in making decisions?