It was a great opportunity to attend FarmTech 2014 in Edmonton this past January. There was a great selection of speakers to hear from, fantastic food, and great people. Some of the highlights for me included listening to Dick Wittman talk about succession planning and farm management. I also enjoyed hearing Chris Hadfield share some of his fascinating experiences. He had grown up on a farm and could relate some of his stories to the audience, which was pretty neat. Some other speakers I enjoyed hearing included Tom Wolf (spraying), Shaun Haney (real agriculture), Jim Smolik (grain contracts), and Shawn Brook (ag advocacy).
My favourite speaker was Dick Wittman who shared his experience working with family members in a farming business. He gave insight into many of the problems that farm families encounter, and advice on how to avoid them. Some of points I took away from the session on ‘Common Pitfalls in Succession Planning’ included:
- Separate the ownership from the management/labour.
- Engage stakeholders in family meetings to explore ideas, goal, and have critical conversations first.
- Don’t wait too long to start.
- Have professional business practices (formalized plans).
- Discuss and then have the decisions committed to paper.
It was encouraging to hear how Dick Wittman’s large family farm is successful even with a number of family members involved at different ages. With the right preparation and planning, farm families can most definitely succeed.
I also enjoyed the session from Tom Wolf on ‘Spraying Isn’t Just Spraying Anymore’ where he explained some of the trends and concerns in the industry. He also talked about how sprayers are becoming faster, and that it may not be beneficial. Tom encouraged farmers to slow down their spraying speeds, and be open to new technologies coming into the market such as new chemical/spraying apps.
The importance of farm business management was highlighted at Farm Tech. Planning ahead and having written action plans before problems arise is a great way to avoid risk.
Farm Management Canada started their ‘Risky Business’ campaign at Farm Tech. We helped encourage people to think about how they manage risk on their farm. This was a great way to connect with people and provide them with helpful material.
It was great to meet the staff at FMC and get to know what they do and what FMC can offer farmers. The importance of educational literature and resources was also emphasized throughout the week, and FMC is a great place to look for all kinds of farm and business material.
It was a great opportunity to attend Farm Tech. Thanks to John Deere and Canadian Fertilizer Institute for sponsoring us and for the opportunity to attend FarmTech. And also thanks to Farm Management Canada for organizing this competition.
Y We Farm Winners (Left to right: Heather Little, Corey McQuarrie, and Geoffrey Foth).