GFM Network News


Darren and Carmen Sterling.

Selling the corporate farm

Darren and Carmen Sterling made the hard decision. 2019 would be their last crop. Then they would retire. But that’s when the real work began

Reading Time: 10 minutes When we talk about Canada’s aging farm owners, we generally talk about how best to pass the agricultural torch to sons and daughters or, more recently, about creative contortions to move the farm into the future with those who are not family — in short, succession planning. But is it still called succession when there […] Read more

“The formality of it encourages every member at the table to feel equally respected,” Chris Clarke emphasizes.

Working with change, instead of fearing it

Non-farm family businesses are in the throes of succession planning too. With the help of Chris Clarke, here’s how they’re elevating their team skills for superior succession planning — and why it’s driving their business performance as well

Reading Time: 5 minutes By now, every farmer has encountered more than a few articles on succession planning, and maybe the thought of even one more doesn’t seem all that appealing. Indeed, you’ve probably read the first few paragraphs of quite a few of these stories and paused, wondering if you’ll learn anything new. Well, this article is a […] Read more


“I’m not sure the message is getting through,” says CFIB’s Corinne Pohlmann. But the stats are brutal… 70 per cent of businesses that don’t plan for succession end up failing.

Sharing succession stories

What can farmers learn from the transition struggles of Canada’s other independent, family-based businesses?

Reading Time: 5 minutes From a business perspective, whether it’s a family business, a family farm business or any other kind, succession planning is not only smart, it’s a condition of survival. According to the Family Business Institute for example, after the leader of a family business exits the picture for whatever reason, 70 per cent of these enterprises […] Read more

For Josh and Lee Moats, succession planning has focused on keeping their relationship strong and vibrant.

Family farms are finding their way

It’s more than the legalities. The culture of Canada’s farm families is evolving too, and on many farms it’s keeping up quite nicely, thanks

Reading Time: 6 minutes Brett Meinert, of Shaunavon, Sask., knew early on that his son Barclay was hoping to take over the family farm. “He bought land three days after he was old enough to own land, when he was eighteen years old,” Brett says. “We knew at that time that he was going to farm — there was […] Read more


For Craig (left), David, Ryan and Brian, and for the entire family, the path to succession has focued on merging the lessons of two and a half centuries of family history with the realities of running an efficient, profitable farm operation.

The 10th generation farm

In central Nova Scotia, Cornwallis Farms has been in the same family for nine generations. So how are they planning for David’s arrival, and the start of a whole new chapter?

Reading Time: 8 minutes Thinking back to 2011, David Newcombe told his family that they’d missed a milestone on their farm — and a chance to throw a big party. But another chance will come. “In 2061 we’ll have a 300-year anniversary,” says Newcombe, now 28. That’s a lot of confidence, yet on this farm, you might say they’ve […] Read more

Family through succession: Moving succession to a financial discussion

As we look into concrete financial options, a sense of excitement replaces the family’s initial worries

Reading Time: 7 minutes Many of you have been following our journey with the Hunter family. To recap, the Hunters are a fourth-generation farm family with a mixed crop and dairy farm in southwestern Ontario. Mary’s husband Jack passed away two years ago. She is 80 now and continues to live on the farm. Her only child, Bruce, works […] Read more


There’s a “million-dollar farm question” in Canadian agriculture as farm parents look to transfer a financially viable farm business to the next generation.

Calculating a fairer, smarter farm inheritance: Part One

Can an estate plan be fair both to the family and to the farm business? Merle Good and Greg Gartner see a way forward

Reading Time: 6 minutes I’m supposed to ask the questions, but Merle Good, Alberta farm business advisor and nationally followed succession expert shoots a question my way before I get a chance. “Suppose you could open all the wills of today’s farmers,” he says. “How many are leaving land to off-farm children?” I expect the number is big — […] Read more

For Dean, Devin, Darren and father Bernie, on-farm manufacturing provides a kind of balance. But make no mistake… this is a farm first, with all the challenges that implies.

Auger-steer invention drives farm family’s business success

Diversifying into manufacturing creates more opportunity for the Toews family, but there have been many lessons along the way

Reading Time: 12 minutes It was 2008 and things just weren’t working out for Bernie Toews. From his tractor cab, he’d tried again and again to manoeuvre an auger around a tight corner on the family farm near MacGregor, an hour and a half west of Winnipeg, and it just wasn’t going to happen. Now, Toews was backing the […] Read more


Family Through Succession: Meet the Hunter family

One farm — seven individuals. Each with their own hopes, needs and ambitions. It’s a typically unique Canadian farm, just like yours. And yes, there is a way forward

Reading Time: 6 minutes In launching this series of columns on farm succession, our goal is to offer the readers of Country Guide something unique, something we feel you will be able to relate to and learn from. We want to introduce you to the Hunter family. Of course names will be changed to protect identities of our clients, […] Read more

Does Canada have enough young farmers?

The country has lost 70 per cent of the farmers in its under-35 category in just 25 years

Reading Time: 17 minutes There are encouraging signs all across the country. At the University of Manitoba’s School of Agriculture convocation this spring, 58 graduates took home their two-year diplomas. At Ridgetown Campus of the University of Guelph in Ontario, 267 crossed the stage in late May, and at Olds College in Alberta, another 81 diplomas were handed out […] Read more