January 25th, 2022

Farm Transition Appreciation Day aims to bridge gaps made during succession planning

By KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 5, 2022.

kking@medicinehatnews.com

The second annual Farm Transition Appreciation Day, a day dedicated to recognizing and spreading awareness about the complex process of farm transitions, will be held on Jan. 11.

“Farm transition – also known as succession planning – refers to the process by which the farm is transferred from one generation of owners to the next,” Heather Watson, executive director of Farm Management Canada, told the News. “This includes ownership of assets, but also, transitioning its leadership and management.

“You don’t have to look far to encounter farmers who have had a negative experience with farm transition, and this causes many farmers to fear the process. Many of these situations could have been avoided with the proper help and support.”

The national Census of Agriculture has found only eight per cent of Canadian farmers have a written transition plan, despite estimates that over the next 10 years, 75 per cent of farms across Canada will change hands.

“The figure itself is not so alarming when taken into the context of family business,” said Watson. “In Canada, 98 per cent of Canada’s farms are family owned and operated. For many farms, honouring the legacy of the farm shaped by previous generations and continuing life on the farm is incredibly important – there’s incredible pride and sentimentality involved … This tie to family and the farm’s legacy introduces unique complexities into farm transition planning, which many farmers find daunting and difficult.”

Watson, her team at Farm Management Canada and other FTADay organizers – including Farm Credit Canada, BDO and the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors – have scheduled several activities for the day, including virtual learning events during which experts provide knowledge of farm transitions and a social media campaign where producers can share their stories.

“Farm Transition Appreciation Day is our way of encouraging farm transition by recognizing and celebrating progress and connecting farmers with information and resources to help them on their journey,” she said. “It is our hope Canada’s agricultural sector will join us to encourage farm transition by sharing insights, experiences and personal stories.”

While the day is aimed at those working in agriculture, Watson would be excited if it reached a wider audience.

“It is my hope the general public will gain a greater understanding of the important role farming plays in contributing to Canada’s social, economic and environmental goals and the perseverance and passion of our farmers in the face of an increasingly complex and challenging business environment,” she said.

“We hope Farm Transition Appreciation Day will help shed a positive light and encourage our farmers to take the next step and keep going,” said Watson.

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