A piece in Fast Company highlights the perils of succession planning, using one California farming family as a case study. Drought and other pressures on the Azevedo family in California’s Central Valley have led to conflict over the future of the family’s dairy farm. Fast Company reports: “The collapse of the Azevedo family farm is then both heartbreakingly specific and sadly common.” As the American farmer ages, discussions about what happens next are growing more common.

“Roughly 30% of American firms are family-owned, including top companies like Walmart, Mars, Inc. and Cargill. As parents reach retirement the transition of control and property to their children is so notoriously difficult that some families now call in professional “succession planners” to help avoid an all-out war. In family businesses across the country, it’s not uncommon for children to sue parents or for parents to write children out of the will.”

To learn more about succession planning for family farms – including conflict management – read “The Farm Succession Guidebook”, produced by the Center for Land-Based Learning, California FarmLink, and the University of California Cooperative Extension.