Passing the torch.

2016 is a great year for the state of Indiana. This is the year we celebrate our bicentennial. Two hundred years of statehood, with many more to go. One of the ways they celebrated this occasion was a torch relay starting in Corydon, IN (the first state capitol) on September 9th and ending in Indianapolis on October 15th. The torch made it through all 92 counties in the state and was carried by individuals who were nominated by their community. It has been exciting to watch the torch weave through rural and urban areas, the variety in which the torch bearers chose to move it along, and who were those honored to carry the torch. What a creative way to celebrate our statehood.

As I have tuned in to this 37-day marathon through a collage of video and photos, each community celebrated it in its own unique way. Each torchbearer was welcomed with a crowd of people, school kids, community leaders and the like. What an exciting time for each of these individuals. During an event like this, there is much excitement and celebration all along the way. But as you relate it to life and the passing from one torchbearer to another or one generation to another, it can lack some of the lime light. In life and especially farming, seldom is there ever a final handoff of the torch. For many, it is a lifetime of transition with a bunch of hard work along the way. One dad allows their son to be involved in the decision making at an early age, another may let them rent 80 acres to get their feet wet. As years go by a bit more of the transition happens until the day dad says, “Son, it’s yours.” No celebration, no cheers from the passing crowd, no words from a local politician. Just moving forward right where you left off.

For many producers, this is good enough because they don’t like the spotlight, and they are content with just doing what they do best, farming and taking care of their families. I have talked with farmers through the years and can’t count how many have told me, “I told my sons that they needed to find a career off the farm.” For many, the options of growth were limited or just didn’t seem viable. But the majority wish they could do things over again. Others I have talked with say, “I was thinking about slowing down but since my one of my kids is coming back, I am ramping up.” Here is a dad that wants to make sure his next generation has the necessary knowledge and resources to press on.

For many farmers, these are the two options. Which do you choose? When do you start thinking about this transition, when it is time to make the decision, and what will it be? A decision of any lasting consequence is never an easy one. Yes corn may be $3.50/bushel but that should be a detail and not an excuse. What will it take to make passing the torch happen? It may mean working on your business plan to map out a solution that will help you achieve your goals. It may mean thinking outside the box on a diversified revenue stream. It also may just mean you increase the acres you are farming. For you, how will the torch be passed? When it comes to transitions, I recommend working with professionals who will help you. Think and pray through the detail of your transition, put together a detailed plan, then take the time to celebrate it, because it is a milestone for parents and their children. Bird Dog can be that conduit to allow growth to happen, so give me a call to get started. And we will celebrate with you.

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