The decision to transfer the management of a family farm should be the culmination of many years of discussion between the older and younger generations.

Does the family talk about the future of the farm? If a child expresses interest in operating and owning the farm, is the child’s enthusiasm nurtured as they grow-up on the farm?

On many family farms, the “recruitment” of the “next” generation to operate the farm may start at an early age. Parents encourage their children to participate in 4-H and FFA activities.

A major benefit of these educational programs is demonstrating the relationships between math, science and technology courses taught in their local schools and how this knowledge is used to make “real world” management decisions on the farm.

Consequently, youth view agriculture as an exciting and rapidly changing profession where new technology and cutting edge research is continually being adopted to help manage and improve farm profitability.

Are the parents willing to discuss ideas that the children are exposed to? Are the children strongly encouraged to attend a two or four year college? The willingness of parents to consider and adopt their children’s newly acquired knowledge signals that the parents respect their children’s ideas. 

Furthermore, the adoption of new programs and technology on a farm that will enhance profitability conveys the notion to the younger generation that the farm is operated as a business.

Do the parents encourage their children to work off the farm for several years after college to gain additional skills about how other businesses operate? By working off the farm, the younger generation will observe and learn how managers supervise employees that have diverse cultural backgrounds.

Off farm employment provides the younger generation with an appreciation of the perks and responsibilities of self employment.