Jolene Brown

Don’t wait until the trip to the funeral home to discuss family farm transfers

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

It is so easy to put off tough questions about family farm transitions from one generation to the next, but those discussions are important to have before it is too late. Jolene Brown spoke at yesterday’s Farm Science Review (and will be talking at the event again today) about the importance of these  conversations prior to the trip to the funeral home.

“Everyone knows brothers and sisters or aunts and uncles or other people who aren’t talking to each other. That’s because people didn’t do things when the times were good to have the tools and means in place when we get tested. Then, because they don’t have things clarified in writing and because they didn’t operate like a business, we have this big explosion on the way to the funeral home,” Brown said.

Brown is a professional farm speaker and writes a column for Successful Farming and Pink Tractor.  She also farms with her husband Keith, in West Branch, Iowa. Brown’s presentations are being held in the Celebration tent just outside the west gate on the grounds. In her conversation’s with producers at the Farm Science Review, Brown is detailing 10 things that break up a family business.

“These are things like a conversation is not a contract, money matters, and more,” Brown said. “But, the number one thing I’ll be talking about is what 95% of my calls are about. People are operating as a family-first business. That means they don’t rock the boat and make dad mad. We’ll just all get along and hope we can get farming.”

Brown is going to help producers be what she calls a “business-first family.”

“That doesn’t mean we’re going to put the business before the family. That just means if we love and honor you this much, we’re going to get the business right,” she said.

Brown recognizes the extraordinary year, and how that can be even more of a stress burden on producers.

“From Mother Nature, to low commodity prices and adding in tariffs and politics, it’s a heavy load. I don’t want our farmers going through this alone. They need to take care of themselves and not forget about their friends and neighbors either,” Brown said.

As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to rural stress and Brown touts the prevention.

“The reason I’m doing this talk is to make sure they have a good foundation built on good solid ground. Not on shifting sand. Then, when we’re tested, we have that foundation underneath us,” she said. “That’s what increases our profitability, productivity, and our peace of mind. Then, we can sit together happily at a holiday table.”

Brown will be speaking at the Farm Science Review today from 10 to 11 a.m. She will also be around the grounds to talk with farmers who may have questions.

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