Working the same land as your grandparents and great-grandparents brings both a tremendous sense of pride and responsibility. The decision-making process for passing on the tradition to children or other kin may also lead to feelings of frustration and uncertainty.
Most families want to protect both the pricelessness of the family heritage, and the great monetary value. Will the successor(s) do right by the family name?
The succession may prove relatively simple with an only child who has been farming alongside her parents since she could walk. Transitioning land and other assets among multiple surviving kin in a manner that keeps the family legacy intact and recognizes the importance of fairness requires more conversation.
While past conversations may give a family a basis for understanding, you cannot really know what someone wants unless you ask. People do not always fully articulate wishes clearly. Families are sometimes surprised to learn that a son who moved away has always dreamed of returning to the farm, and/or a daughter who has been farming for many years wishes to make a different career move. The conversations may not be easy, but they are extremely important in family relationships. Clarifying plans and wishes up front may prevent long-term rifts down the road.
Who will take over the family farm? It is never too early to start the conflict resolution conversation.
Conflict coaching offers clarity and creates confidence in communicating in these situations. Farm mediation supports important conversations by providing a safe space where you may speak your truth, be heard, and create ideas for dispute resolution.