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Ohio State University Extension, Ashtabula County, 39 Wall Street, Jefferson, OH 44047

“Building for the Successful Transition of Your Agricultural Business” Fact Sheet Series

Whole Farm Planning Model
David L. Marrison Agriculture-Natural Resources Extension Educator, Ashtabula County

Introduction
Planning is one of the most important aspects of managing any business. This is especially true for farms and agribusinesses due to their complexity and the inherent uncertainties (i.e., weather, commodity prices) associated with agriculture. It is essential that farm managers take time to adequately plan for all facets of their business. Farm families are encouraged to adopt a whole farm planning approach as they develop strategies for the future success of their business. This approach allows families to examine the internal structure of their business and then develop business, retirement, transition, estate, and investment plans.

The Farm Family
At the center of most farms and agricultural businesses is the family unit. Each family, individually and collectively, has its own history, values, and goals. It is valuable for the business to begin the planning process by reflecting on family and farm history. Valuable lessons can be learned by all the generations involved by examining past successes and disappointments. The underlying values and goals of the family unit should also be determined. While these values and goals oftentimes remain unspoken, they have a large impact on how family members treat each other and employees and make business decisions. A critical look should also be given to understanding the effect that family members could have on the farm operation, especially those (spouses, in-laws, cousins, ex-spouses) who are not directly involved in the day-to-day operations.

communication, financial, production, marketing, and management skills. There are a multitude of skills that each individual can bring to an operation. This is...

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