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Family Owned...

August 13, 2015, 1


Kevin Spafford, CFP®

Not that we didn’t already know…

On March 17th the USDA released ‘Family Farms are the Focus of New Agriculture Census Data’ and declared that 97% of all U.S. farms are family-owned. The summary of the report goes on to say, “Family-owned farms remain the backbone of the agriculture industry,” and I might add, the soul of our rural communities. With these facts, the dissension and demagoguery should stop. An attack on farming is an attack on our communities and ‘we the people.’

There is nothing to be gained by tearing down and demonizing the whole over the indiscretions of a few. Discourse is good and differences are easily settled in the court of capitalism. Serving consumers and responding to market forces will dictate the type, quality, quantity, and variety of products/services brought to the market.

If, as the report states, regarding family farms:

  1. Food equals family – 97% of the 2.1 million farms in the United States are family-owned operations.
  2. Small business matters – 88% of all U.S. farms are small family farms.
  3. Local connections come in small packages – 58% of all direct farm sales to consumers come from small family farms.
  4. Big business matters too – 64% of all vegetable sales and 66 percent of all dairy sales come from the 3 percent of farms that are large or very large family farms.
  5. Farming provides new beginnings – 18% of principal operators on family farms in the U.S. started within the last 10 years.

Then, based on these conclusions, there’s no reason for one side to shout the other side down; there’s room for variety. The abiding goal should be a plentiful food supply with healthy choices for all. If so, we should welcome all manner, shape, and size of farming operation. We should support our rural communities and appreciate America’s farming capabilities. And, we should recognize the industry’s responsibility to sustain our farming culture for future generations.

Is a Plan Really Necessary?

Today’s hardworking, well-intended family business owners are driven to generate results, drive revenue, and develop new opportunities. For many, succession is a natural next step in the life of a growing operation. If you’re curious about succession and want to know how a comprehensive plan may help you towards achieving your goals, these questions may be a good starting point.  (eLegacyConnect tool available for public access - with no login required - through November 15, 2015.)

Subscribe to LegacyConnection, our free weekly eNewsletter, for planning tips, tools, and more… 

Have questions specific to your family?  We’re always happy to schedule a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your family’s succession objectives, review potential next steps, and determine how we can help.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.

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