Goals and principles of the intergenerational transfer of the family farm

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Ron G.. Stover
Mary Kay Helling


The intergenerational transfer of family farms was studied by means of semi-structured interviews with husbands and wives of both the senior generation and the junior generation of farm families. Particular attention was paid to the goals and the principles of the transfer. Responses to the interviews suggested respondents selected among three goals for the transfer process-- 1) preservation of the family farm, 2) maintenance of the financial viability of the family farm, and 3) use of the family farm as a retirement package. Respondents also selected among six principles to guide the transfer process- 1) control of participation in the decision-making process, 2) equality in the treatment of the members of the junior generation, 3) commitment to the family farm, 4) provision of choice to the members of the junior generation to allow them to determine their own future, 5) allocation of the farm to the most senior male offspring, and 6) protection of the family from itself. The potential for conflict between and among these goals and principles is discussed.

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