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What should you include in your 10-year farm plan?
What should you include in your 10-year farm plan?

Ensuring all members of the farm operation are on the same page is critical to business success

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter
Farms.com

When planning for the future of your farm, it’s important to look a decade ahead, according to Rick Dehod, a farm financial specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

“Farmers often say they haven’t had a chance to work on their 10-year plan,” he told Call of the Land today. “Whether the next generation is ready to take over or you’re in the prime of your farming career, you need to ask yourself what the farm business will look like 10 years from now.”

When putting together a 10-year plan, it should include three key elements, Dehod said.

First, be sure to include family members and employees in the discussions.

Family members will participate because most farms are family-run, Dehod said, adding that employees and non-family members need to know their places in the plan.

“Many farms have non-family members with a significant role and responsibility on the farm,” he said. “Workers must be clear on their role and responsibilities. How are they being trained and rewarded? Are they passionate and committed to the farm’s success?”

Another must-have is communication.

The plan must be clearly laid out for everyone to understand. It will also be subject to change, Dehod said.

“This (plan) is a living document,” he said. “Communication keeps family and employees engaged and focused on the vision. Make sure your team knows that you appreciate their contributions to the plan, and they’ll go above and beyond with communication.”

The third key part of a 10-year plan is a standard operating procedure.

People will have varying opinions on how things get done, Dehod said, adding that a standardized list of procedures can help everyone understand the proper way of performing farm-related tasks.

Are farmers putting succession plans in place?

A majority of Canadian farms do not have a succession plan, according to the 2016 Census of Agriculture.

Of the 193,492 farms counted in 2016, only 8.4 per cent (16,253) reported having a written succession plan.