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“Farmers are getting older, but there’s a long-term culture around not letting it go,” she said. “It’s not without a lot of consideration around the outcome. There’s a lot of emotion connected to it; it’s very personal.
“I think for many farms the first choice is to have a successor. The second choice is to hold onto the land and rent it out.
“There’s a legacy — they want to keep it in the family — and there are significant tax advantages to giving it to descendants,” she said.
It’s important to get a written succession plan on paper, have conversations at the kitchen table with family, and to be clear about everyone’s wishes and intentions, she noted.
“This will be the first time they have cash in their lifetime in terms of liquid assets. It will also be the first time they’ve had to pay significant taxes.”
As farmers age, the provincial landscape is changing. Certainly, Saskatchewan farms are getting bigger and the number of farmers is getting smaller as the transitions occur. Yet many farms are still basically century farms; Saskatchewan is a relatively young agriculture market when compared to the United States, Europe or even Ontario.
In older markets such as those, the industry moves from land ownership culture to a land rental market, and some of that is happening here; but as Durand points out, “we’re still breaking land, for goodness sake, in some areas.”
This is clearly still true farm country, and Saskatchewan farmers tend to be far more focused on growing crops and raising livestock than anything else; their attention and receipts go into the operation more than retirement planning or savings. They’re fully aware of the price of land, however.