Farming officials report, over the next ten years, seventy-five per cent of Canadian farms will change hands, yet, according to the Agricultural Census, only eight per cent of farmers have a written transition plan.
The Haasen family in Timmins has run a dairy farm since 1958 and succession planning is not a new topic.
But knowing who’s going to take over the business is not something every farming family knows.
“Certainly you got to know it’s what you want to do. If you’re not sure, go experience something else and see for yourself. Don’t just do it cause Dad said that’s what you should do…not that I was told that,” said Eddy Haasen, a third generation dairy farmer.”
“Talk to your lawyer, talk to your accountant, all these things are critical in making sure that a succession to another generation or to somebody outside the family for that matter goes successfully and as smoothly as possible,” said Eddy’s father, Frank Haasen.
The Timmins Economic Development Corporation said it can offer some assistance to families in getting the transition going, but said to be prepared for it to take time.
“It is a process and it’s a long one and families need to start that conversation early on to decide what they want to do and where they want to go,” said Noella Rinaldo, director of community economic development.
Last year, Frank and Eddy started discussions about adding their grandson and nephew to the family business and said this may happen in 2025.
Rinaldo said it’s good they’re talking as other economic opportunities might be more tempting.
“And this will affect the fact that if someone is in a farming family that they may not want to be the successor, they may want to go in those high paying jobs of mining so that always has been an affect of how our farms have been sustainable,” she said.
Frank Haasen agreed there are other economic opportunities, but he said, “quite frankly, you know, we’re interested in people that want to farm as a life.”
And, he said it must be a good life as his father came to do work on the farm right into his 90s.