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Are you ready to pass the ranch on to the next generation?

Troy Marshall

November 12, 2015

3 Min Read
Are you ready to pass the ranch on to the next generation?

I’m sure every single parent feels the same way; the love, the pride, the hope we carry for our children are simply difficult to describe. While I’ve heard a lot of parents say something similar, I truly feel all of my kids are a marked improvement over me. 

Ranching is a unique business. Most of us would love for our kids to want to come back to the operation, but we are a little uncertain if we would wish that on them, even though we probably would admit we would not have wished for any other career for ourselves. Even though we want them to want to come back to the operation, many of us do not have a concrete plan on how that might occur. Perhaps more importantly, how does one make the transition and grow the business so that it is an economically viable option for everyone?

The other night, I listened to a conversation with a group of producers that I guess would be at about the midpoint in their career. They are dealing with transitional issues from the older generation, and contemplating how to bring the next generation into the fold. 

winter wonderland gallery

Breathtaking photos of winter on the ranch
The first snow hit parts of the Midwest this week. Mentally prepare for the winter wonderland with these stunning photos. See photos here.


As one individual admitted, he hadn’t had the conversation with his dad because he was scared to. He was even more scared about having the conversation with his son and daughter, who both have a keen interest in the operation, about what their future might be with the family ranch. He admitted to having dreams about his kids saying, “Dad, I’ve been thinking I would like to come back to the ranch,” or” Dad, I’ve been thinking that I would like to do something else.” He hadn’t decided which conversation would be worse. Even though he admitted that he had actively tried to brainwash his kids just a little so that they would want to come back. 

The experts tell us that once a business has evolved to the point of being sustainable, one of management’s priorities should be to account for the transition of the organization. Perhaps it is because it requires an acceptance of our own mortality, or simply giving up some control. But all organizations, to be truly healthy, need to be able to replace leadership and transition control, ownership and other aspects of the operation at some point.

Do I have a plan? Not exactly. We are trying to grow our operation so that it’s a viable option that our kids can come back, but we haven’t really gone beyond that. I know that if they decide to come back, the ranch will be in better hands. I just don’t want them to believe that at least for another 30-40 years.  

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.


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