How to pass the farm on to the next generation is a puzzle as old as time itself. Inevitably, the question will be asked...who’s next? According to Michigan State University, discussing and planning for the evolution of the family farm should include a close look at the five D’s – death, disability, disaster, divorce and disagreements. The idea of discussing these important topics can foil the best laid plans.
And as Mike Tobias of Nebraska N.E.T. News and Harvest Public Media found out, sometimes the best way to pass on the family farm may be no more complex than a handshake, a hug or a parental nod.
It was the summer of 2000. Kelly and Riley Skrdlant had a lot on their minds. At this moment, whether a skunk was hiding inside irrigation pipe. But long term they were both thinking about the future of the Skrdlant family farm.
Riley was 18…fresh out of high school with a passion for working with cattle…and desire to do something different than most of his classmates, and that’s stay in agriculture. Kelly, Riley’s dad, wanted this to happen, just like he took over the farm from his father. But Kelly had concerns. Running a farm was getting expensive. Fuel, fertilizer and equipment costs were going up.
There was a lot of uncertainty for Riley…and the Skrdlant farm.
Flash forward 13 years. Riley is farming with his dad. After high school he took community college classes and had a series of full-time jobs, all ag related, most fairly close to home. Most recently he was working with a fertilizer plant in Bladen. In one way or another he also stayed involved with the farm, gradually starting to make more management decisions, especially involving livestock.
The Skrdlant family farm became his full-time job at the beginning of 2013…taking a role he describes as primary operator and secondary manager.
Transitions can be formal….or informal. The latter, common in family operations, would probably best describe how Riley and Kelly are doing business.
Watch the full video here, courtesy of Market to Market, Nebraska NET News and Harvest Public Media: