Recently my dad and I were discussing the amazing advances in crop production he’s seen over his lifetime. It’s something many of us take for granted. People outside agriculture don’t even see it. But it’s truly miraculous when you consider how technology has advanced our production of food and fiber. Dad remembers when soybeans were a brand new novelty crop they fed to the cows as hay. Later, when they started harvesting soybeans for grain, 20 bushels to the acre was a pretty good yield. Now my second cousin Katherine is working on her masters in agronomy as a soybean breeder. She thinks they will have 100 bushel soybeans soon. When my dad was a kid feeding soybean hay to his Brown Swiss cows, talk of growing 100 bushels per acre of soybeans for grain would have sounded like a bunch of science fiction.
Farm Legacy Planning
As we work with clients to build a farm legacy plan, we always ask the family to “imagine the future they want.” When a family takes this request seriously it has two benefits: 1.) It provides a filter for any future options that are presented. Anything that conflicts, interferes with or prevents the imagined future from happening is immediately ruled out. 2.) When we know what we are working toward, I can, as the financial advisor, better identify the strategies, tools and resources needed to get us there. It can be a difficult challenge for clients to imagine the future of their family farm. I am an optimist. I encourage clients to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) for their future, to borrow a term from James Collins and Jerry Porras*. BHAGs are goals that seem crazy at first but not actually impossible. To help put BHAGs in context I’ll share a few of my favorites:
- JFK's Moon Challenge: This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.
- Ford: Democratize the automobile.
- Microsoft: A computer on every desk and in every home.
- Amazon: Every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds.
Maybe we should add 100 bushel soybean yields to this list. What are your BHAGs for your family farm and the future? *The term 'Big Hairy Audacious Goal' (BHAG) was proposed by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book entitled Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. If this article has you starting to think about your own circumstances, get in touch with my office at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always delighted to meet with folks who are working on their farm business transition process. Dunncreek Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice, nor is this article intended to do so.