From the tech sector to academia, it is common for people to pursue many different jobs and career paths during their working life. Working in the agriculture sector offers no exception.
Large or small, the vast majority of Canadian farms are operated by farm families. Parents, and even grandparents, often work together with their children and grandchildren in the family’s farming business.
Many hands for many tasks
Farming often means doing many things at once. Historically, this was the main reason two or more generations of a family would work together. To put it bluntly, it was critical for the farm’s success, and the family’s survival.
Today, more than half of young farmers supplement their farm income with off-farm revenue, working in management, business, finance, trades, health, education, or natural resources and agriculture-related jobs. Their share of off-farm income varies significantly by farm type, which reflects the size and profitability of the farming operation, the seasonality of production, and outside work opportunities.
Despite this, and despite incredible technological advances, farming still requires many hands for many tasks. This reality continues to allow farm families to work together and support what is often a generations-long, multi-faceted business. Each person involved can also bring new ideas, perspectives, and expertise to bear.
Kids might move away for a while, and parents might take on additional jobs – but somehow, many Canadian families continue to work together on the farm just as their ancestors did.
Succession can be tricky
Like other businesses, farms are handed down from one generation to the next in a process called succession. Indeed, there are farms in Canada that have now been home to nine generations or more of the same family.
In recent years, the farming community as a whole has been paying much more attention to developing a good succession plan for farm families. Succession planning is very important for families trying to ensure farms stay viable for the next generation. It’s a complicated legal and financial process, though, and one which can invoke both stress and optimism in participants.