Statistics show most farming families delay any formal succession planning. But what if the problem is not the intent behind the process but rather the pressure parents feel to choose between their children.

No-one likes unfinished business

So if you don’t start then you won’t have that problem.

Based on a research conducted by the “Farm Journal,” 80 per cent of the agricultural households surveyed disclosed the farm and its operations shall be transferred to the next generation in line. However, less than 20 percent of them are confident the succession plan can ensure the survival of their farming legacies.

I read the poem The Bridge Builder – By Will Allen Dromgoole (below) and thought it had a timely message for all of us. Life goes through stages and we all experience them.

The current older generations of Australian farmers are known as the ‘builders’ because that is what they did. They built a business with assets and a future. They also built a family with love and strong values.

But at some point, their children start their own families and build on the foundations of the previous generation. So, what happens when the foundations are not strong enough to support or provide for all the siblings and still be viable?

No-one wants to have those discussions and who can blame them.

So before you do…

Read this and stop for a moment. Then remember to show gratitude for what your parents and grandparents have done and worked to achieve. Life on the land involves sacrifice. Time, money, relationships – they all suffer. Imagine giving up so much to still not achieve your ultimate goal to provide for all your children as you would like to.

Being as a parent is more important than being a farmer. And yet we focus on the assets left rather than the contributions made. This is an old poem but one that is totally relatable to today.

Read it and think about your parents. Then take the time to thank them.

The Bridge Builder – By Will Allen Dromgoole (1860 – 1934)

“An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening cold and gray
To a chasm vast and deep and wide
Through which was flowing a swollen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The rapids held no fears for him.
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” cried a fellow pilgrim near,
“You’re wasting your time in building here.
Your journey will end with the closing day;
You never again will pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm deep and wide;
Why build you this bridge at even-tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head.
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There follows after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This stream, which has been as naught to me,
To that fair youth may a pitfall be.
He too must cross in the twilight dim —
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”