Conventional wisdom says that no one plans to fail, but those who fail to plan are more likely to face undesirable consequences when things go wrong.

For agricultural producers, planning for the future is even more important than it might be in other sectors of the economy. Weather phenomena always carry the potential to derail well-laid plans, particularly if Mother Nature refuses to cooperate for more than one year at a time.

With a view to assisting their clients in their planning for the future of their operations, AFSC offices in Central Alberta have been hosting succession planning workshops during the course of February.

The presentations made to participating producers at the Three Hills, Ponoka and Drumheller branch offices, among others, were aimed at providing updated information on successfully transitioning farming operations from one owner to the next.

The most important takeaway: “The importance of defining the difference between family and business with an ongoing focus of continual working of long-lasting relationships.”

Blane Fraser, who participated in the workshop hosted at the Drumheller office, said the event helped solidify his thinking about succession planning.

“I have been to many succession planning workshops over the last five years,” he said.

“This event helped to reconfirm the action already taken, evaluate thoughts and ideas, and the benefits of keeping the conversation open and ongoing.”

Asked what his most important takeaway from the workshop was, he replied: “The importance of defining the difference between family and business with an ongoing focus of continual working of long-lasting relationships.”

For Greg Braat, it was the importance of involving professionals in succession planning that made a mark when he took part in the Ponoka event.

“The seminar reinforced my belief that farmers need to plan early and enroll the services of professionals to make a smooth and financially efficient transition into retirement; and for the benefit of the next generation of agricultural producers,” Braat said.

He also suggested that succession planning discussions would produce better results if they were more interactive.

“There is a large amount of overlap between legal, accounting and financial planning and having input from more than one professional would be very beneficial for the clients,” he added.

For Colin Jensen, another participant in the Drumheller workshop, the key takeaway was the need to keep changing circumstances in consideration.

“To have a plan and get going with it as it takes time, and tax laws may change,” he quoted the key points of the workshop that made a mark on his thinking.

For her part, Debbi Penner said she was satisfied with the way the workshop was conducted at the Three Hills branch with up-to-date information being shared with participants.

All those interviewed said they would definitely recommend the presentations to farmers thinking of making succession plans.

The presentations also provided the opportunity for AFSC product specialists to inform the participants on how the risk management and lending programs offered by AFSC can provide stability as a farm enters the transition phase.

“We thoroughly enjoyed seeing our producers in a less formal setting, and facilitating productive learning sessions,” said Team Coordinator Juanita Wilkins.

“AFSC employees are available to speak to every producer to discuss how we can assist with their specific needs.”