It’s no secret that Canada’s farm population is aging. Statistics Canada’s 2021 Census of Agriculture revealed that over 60 per cent of Canada’s farmers are 55 and older and that many of those farmers have no transition plan for their farms.

Which is cause for concern.

Decades of hard work and sacrifice could be wiped out when it’s time for an ownership change without a written transition plan. A formal plan provides clarity and stability while minimizing disruptions and risks to the business.

“It’s important to put yourself, your family and your farm in the best position for success and that includes a farm transition plan that is carefully considered and thoroughly done,” said Nick Oakley, business development lead with Farm Management Canada.

“Every farm has already experienced transition at some point in its existence and will do so again. It’s inevitable, yet often overlooked or forgotten about. There are so many factors and moving parts involved that it can seem like an overwhelming task.”

The transition of the family farm is a highly complex transaction, explained Bob Tosh, family business advisor with MNP. It includes tax planning, legal agreements, estate planning and relationship management. Advanced planning allows everyone involved in the transition to look at options and make informed decisions.

Agriculture Financial Services (AFSC) wants to help ensure Alberta’s producers have the information they need to plan a successful transition path for their farm. That’s why AFSC – working with partners Farm Management Canada, MNP, Alberta Canola and Dentons – is presenting a series of one-day workshops on farm transition. Three Bridging the Gap workshops are being held this fall and winter – November 7 in Red Deer, February 26 in Lethbridge, and March 8 in Grande Prairie.

​​​The Bridging the Gap farm transition workshop is designed to engage multiple generations working together on the family farm in meaningful discussions to better understand each other’s concerns and considerations for the future of the farm.

It’s never too early, but it can be too late

Farmers should begin thinking about a transition plan as early as possible as it can be a complex process requiring careful consideration and discussion. Tosh suggests that the optimal time to have these conversations is when the outgoing generation is in its mid-50s to 60s and the incoming generation is in its mid-20s to 30s.

“You can never start thinking about transition too early,” said Oakley, “but you can start thinking about it too late.

“This process can be very complex, so starting as early as you can allows for thoughtful decision-making and consideration of all factors and people involved. You don’t want to leave your loved ones to try and pick up the pieces of your estate after you’re gone.”

The first step in transition planning for every farm family is determining what the priorities are and what they want out of the transition. Oakley said that knowing this will help guide families throughout the entire process, keeping them grounded and focused on what matters to them, when things get tough.

“Communication is everything,” said Tosh, “but many families struggle to start the conversation so a facilitated meeting with a trained transition planner can lay out the process and give families the comfort that they have a path to follow.”

Finding consensus can be difficult when it comes to farm transition planning, cautioned Oakley, and that’s where workshops like Bridging the Gap can be helpful.

“Bridging the Gap is specifically designed to welcome multiple generations and all family members involved in the farm to learn alongside each other,” explained Oakley. “Hearing sound information from farm transition experts can be exactly what your family needs to advance the transition plan forward.”

The workshops provide a neutral setting where all family members can learn about the transition process and connect with other farm families who are also starting their transition planning journey.

“We encourage farm families to come together to the workshops to get on the same page when it comes to the journey of farm transition,” said Oakley.

“Learning alongside the key stakeholders in your farm is a very powerful component to creating a successful farm transition plan.”

Reserve your spot today

Attendees will take part in sessions on planning, communication, navigating resistance, and working with their transition team. They will be encouraged to ask questions and discuss their farming situations, sharing insights and knowledge with one another. Attendees will also gain access to valuable resources and tools to help them along the way.

To sign up, please use the links below. You will be taken to a third-party website, Eventbrite, to register. If you wish to learn about Eventbrite’s privacy policy, please see: Eventbrite Privacy Policy | Eventbrite Help Centre

  • Bridging the Gap Farm Transition Workshop – ​​​Red Deer
  • Bridging the Gap Farm Transition Workshop – Lethbridge
  • Bridging the Gap Farm Transition Workshop – Grande Prairie
    March 8, 2024
    8 a.m. – 4 p.m. MST
    Pomeroy Hotel & Conference Centre Grand Prairie
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