GFM Network News


The ‘succession effect’

Setting transition as a goal for your farm can spur growth and profitability, until about three-quarters of the way through

Reading Time: 5 minutes All farmers, no matter where they farm in the world, share certain characteristics. They are all born worriers, and they all have lots to worry about — weather, crop prices, markets. And on top of the day-to-day production issues, and the management challenges involved in running today’s complex farm operations, farmers also have a lot […] Read more

Get over it

When succession talks start, it doesn’t take long for Dad to think everyone just wants to cut him down to size

Reading Time: 7 minutes It’s impossible to think about the transition of any business — and perhaps more so the family farm — without talking about the governance structure that is going to allow that farm business to operate, thrive and be sustainable for generations to follow. It’s easy to find. Just look for the fireworks. “The flashpoints usually […] Read more


Parents at some point need to transition from shareholder to creditor,” says Merle Good. That’s a big step, because creditors don’t make the farm’s decisions.

Who controls the purse strings on your farm?

By the time the parents hit their mid-60s, financial decision-making should be in the hands of the next generation. Really!

Reading Time: 5 minutes Two decades ago, U.K. professor Andrew Errington identified three stages of farm transfer: succession, retirement and inheritance. He defined succession as the gradual handing over of managerial control. Retirement was the owner withdrawing from active participation in the business of the farm, and inheritance was how the assets were finally signed over to the successor. […] Read more

From left, the G.H. VanSickle & Sons farm team: Jake, Peter, Shawn and Josh.

Seamless transfers

This family farm corporation in Ontario has transferred four times since the ’60s and recently diversified with the purchase of a local grain elevator. Here’s how the VanSickles have done it, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way

Reading Time: 6 minutes Near the Grand River south of Brantford, Shawn VanSickle pulls under the shade of a big oak tree at the end of the field. He stops for a moment to reflect about how in 1966 his grandfather did something groundbreaking for the time — incorporated the family farm. Five decades later, G.H. VanSickle & Sons […] Read more


The Badiou family is well into the process of transitioning the family farm to the next generation.

Impressing Mom and Dad

There’s more reason than ever for farm kids to prove to Mom and Dad that they’ve got what it takes to be trusted with the farm. Question is: do the kids realize it?

Reading Time: 10 minutes Transitioning the family farm to the next generation is never easy. But how much harder when the parents have their doubts whether their next generation has the skills or the personality to manage the operation? On more and more farms, the wise thing would be for the kids to set out to prove to Mom […] Read more

Alec and Shelby Boekhoven farm with Alec’s parents near Appin in southwestern Ontario.

The next farm generation steps up

On this farm, transition planning made real gains once the younger generation learned how to take their role in the process

Reading Time: 11 minutes Alec Boekhoven had turned over at 2 a.m., fretting about ways to reduce feed costs on his family’s 600-sow farrow-to-finish operation. Eventually he drifted off on the couch, which is where his son Evan discovered him and woke him up early. It’s why Alec brought his three-year-old with him to do chores, and it also […] Read more


Seven rules of behaviour for family farm teams

When the next generation comes home, Elaine Froese says families can set up some rules of engagement right away so everyone knows and can operate within that culture. When new people join the team, it can help to clarify expectations. “Culture is the invisible glue that holds the farm and the family together. It is[...]
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Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

Editor’s Note: Six ingredients of an ideal farm successor

Reading Time: 2 minutes Several articles in our May/June issue of Country Guide examine what may be the toughest question of all. Does your farm’s next generation have what it’s going to take to succeed in 2050? Fortunately, science can help. I’ve suggested before in this space that as farms continue their likely evolution in asset value and in[...]
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Younger generations often don’t know where they stand regarding a farm transition and may feel reluctant to address the issue.

How do you know when the younger generation is ‘ready’?

AME Management: How succession can be successfully planned

Reading Time: 5 minutes A tough question for any family business is how to know when the next generation is equipped to take over management decisions. Like many other things, the answer is often lost in a range of factors, not least the attitudes of the individuals in the family. My experience is that many families have unresolved “stuff”[...]
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In the family’s new pack barn, daughter Cate McCorquodale is experiencing their transition planning partly from her perspective as a lawyer. “It takes time to get all the pieces in place,” she says. “It’s not just about transferring ownership.”

Legal insights into transition planning

Today it’s getting even more critical to keep up with your legal documents all through your business planning and succession discussions

Reading Time: 9 minutes At 45,000 sq. feet the new dairy pack barn is impressive, especially the way it captures the spirit of hope that fills the McCorquodale family at Embro, Ont. With the next generation waiting in the wings, their barn represents their shared belief in their future, complete with robotic milking system and the latest in cow-comfort[...]
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