The family farm remains the backbone of agriculture worldwide. It is a successful model capable of securing food supply to regional and national communities. But it needs maintenance, and planning for succession is a critical element of that maintenance.
A farmer’s reputation, perhaps especially when it comes to livestock, is a significant component of his or her marketing ability and of the asset that the next generation inherits. “You can never start building a reputation too soon, especially if you want to hand over the reins to your children or to a partner,” says Vleissentraal agent Lizemari de Klerk.
Children from farming families often want to farm, and there can be no better legacy to leave them than the practical farming skills they have known since childhood. But young people need an enabling environment if they are to succeed in the tough, competitive world of agribusiness today. The landscape is littered with examples where bad or even non-existent succession planning has led to the loss of the family farm. Along with this comes the loss of potentially talented and much-needed young farmers who switch to careers in other fields if they are deprived of the opportunity to run their own farming businesses.
Flexible thinking is a hallmark of good agricultural succession planning. Farmers must consider complex factors such as “equal and fair” distribution of assets that may not be possible if the business is to continue in the family.
Brits farmer Gopolang Tladinyane, who sees farming as a multigenerational business, is in the fortunate position of having three sons who all want to farm. “My biggest task is to acquire this farm so that I can hand it over to my children,” he says. Tladinyane’s two older sons are already involved in the business, bringing their energy, their creativity and their tech abilities to the enterprise.
Generational wealth goes beyond the passing on of land, money and assets. It encompasses the transfer of knowledge and skills, and the confidence to take calculated risks, to innovate and to operate with courage in a challenging environment.
For more information, visit www.vleissentraal.co.za