Don Harden looks at the statistics generated by AgAmerica’s survey on the multigenerational family farming tradition.
In my April column in Central Florida Ag News, I wrote about the importance of the family farming tradition in America. The 2012 Census of Agriculture counted 2.1 million farms in the U.S, with 97 percent being considered family-owned operations. The lion’s share of our food and fiber comes from family farming operations, so it’s no wonder that the image of the multigenerational farming businesses is one that many family farmers hold in high esteem.
In the ag industry, the number of farming generations we count in our families is a source of great pride, and the thought of our children and grandchildren inheriting the farm and filling our boots is a sustaining one. While there are many statistics on family agriculture, there are few on the details of the family farming tradition. In 2015, AgAmerica conducted a survey of hundreds of growers, and compiled the results in the whitepaper Families and Their Farms: Planning for the Future. Explore our findings on the family farming tradition below.
Statistics on the Family Farming Tradition
AgAmerica surveyed 530 farmers representing operations of all sizes and nearly 30 different crops. They found:
- Almost three quarters of respondents—74.9%—operate family farms that include either multiple generations or multiple members of the same generation.
- In terms of transferring the family farm to the next generation, 81.5% hoped to do so or thought it a likely possibility, with 38.4% confident the operation would go to the next generation.
- While the average age of respondents was 57, 35.1% were planning the transfer after 10 years or more; 31.7% thought the transfer would occur in the next five to 10 years; and a total of 33.2% were either currently in the process of transferring the farm to the next generation or thinking it would likely happen within the next four years.
Statistics and Tips on Transferring the Family Farm
Transferring the family business to the next generation is not always an easy issue. Thankfully, grower’s top concerns for the transfer of family farms are those that can be managed and solved.
For instance, 63.9% worried about setting the next generation up for success, 29.8% worried if the next generation would want to buy the operation, and 23.9% were concerned over financing the sale. These are all areas where the AgAmerica Lending team can help with succession planning, financing, and other financial details. Sound advice is to keep finances above the board and out in the open, and include all the generations involved in financial discussions and decision-making.
Furthermore, 32.9% of respondents wondered if they would truly be able to give the family farm over to the next generation completely, and 31.8% worried about the tensions created by the issue. My suggestion is to talk about it often. Communication is key. Discuss expectations and future roles with all stakeholders present. What will everyone’s role be? What will the transfer look like? How long will it take? Get to a place where everyone can agree and feel comfortable with transferring the family legacy to the next generation.
If you’d like to talk over your options for continuing your family farming tradition with one of our expert team members, contact us today.
Growing up in the Florida cattle and citrus business, Don Harden manages his family ranch of several thousand head of cattle and horses. He has almost 40 years of experience in the real estate business; 15 years of which were spent with a large real estate auction company specializing in agricultural sales.