Holmes, S1, Heather Watson1
1Farm Management Canada (FMC)
The next generation are the future of farming and lifeblood of the agriculture and agri-food industry. Farm transition is arguably the most critical time in the lifecycle of the farm and family as the legacy of one generation converges with the goals, dreams and desires of the next. A farm transition plan helps create clarity and certainty for everyone around the future of the farm and how they fit into the plan. However, transition planning can involve uncomfortable conversations where personal, family and business goals and roles often become muddled.
Currently, only 8.4% of Canada’s farms have a written succession plan. Without a plan, farmers face uncertainty and the future is in jeopardy.
Farm Management Canada launched the Bridging the Gap: Transition Planning for Farm Families Workshop to address the growing disconnect between the current and future generation of farmers in Canada and the resulting lack of succession and business transition on Canada’s farms.
This paper focuses on the Bridging the Gap Workshop as a practical approach to improving farm succession and transition planning on Canada’s farms. This program is helping bridge the gap between generations of farmers, stimulating better communication and business skills development to provide farmers with the best chance for continuing success.
Heather Watson is the Executive Director of Farm Management Canada (FMC), a national non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the awareness and adoption of beneficial farm business management practices on Canada’s farms. FMC prides itself on connecting diverse industry stakeholders from farmers to advisors, academics, associations, private industry and government, to exchange insights and increase collaboration for advancing farm business management practices across Canada. Before joining FMC in 2009, Heather worked at the Business Development Centre within the University of Guelph, Kemptville Campus. Heather’s passionate about education and committed to enhancing efforts to encourage better business management practices for a sustainable and truly remarkable agricultural industry in Canada. She presently serves as the Canadian representative to the International Farm Management Association Council, and represents farm business management within a number of agricultural advisory groups across Canada. Heather obtained her Bachelor’s from the University of Guelph, and went on to obtain her Master’s degree from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. Heather lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.