One of the biggest issues facing farming families in Australia is succession planning. The mere mention of succession planning strikes fear into the heart of many and people would rather do anything but talk about farm succession. But the only solution to this problems it to start the conversation.
Almost 18 months of work and waiting, Nick Shady and I are finally poised to release our book Who Gets the Farm? A practical guide to farm succession planning. I can still remember driving home for a seminar where I was reminded that writing a book was critical to being known as an expert in your niche.
I called Nick as I drove the 100kms back to our home in Ballarat from Melbourne. We spoke the entire way home, which helped keep me awake, and we were buzzing with ideas about potential book topics.
We chose farm succession planning for two primary reasons:
- We had seen the struggles, heartache and family breakdown that poor or non-existent succession planning had on many families we knew.
- We knew that the stress of succession planning was having on friends of ours and that it was creating mental illness in the farming community.
Fast forward a few months and Nick and I had finished the first draft of our manuscript. It was so exciting to see our hard work in a hefty manuscript. We had written the book in a very conversational style that would be easy to read. We knew that the content was often boring or overwhelming and our aim, which I think we achieved, was to make the book an easy read.
We worked with the publisher on the cover, interior design elements, and with their editor, who much to my delight said it was an excellent book and very well written. I have a Bachelors Degree in Communications with a specialisation in Professional Writing and I’ve utilised writing in many of my professional roles. So it was great to have such positive reinforcement from the editor.
I always wanted to be a writer and an aid worker when I was growing up. I did become an aid worker in Thailand working with Thai sex workers and then with Burmese refugees. While in Thailand I started a writers’ group. But to be honest, I never thought I would become a published author. I remember so clearly getting feedback from one of my lecturers at university that said that my fiction writing was basically terrible. I quickly shelved the idea of being an author.
Nearly 20 years later, I’ve penned a couple of books and contributed to numerous anthologies – all in the space of a year. It’s amazing how easily our self-belief can be tarnished by almost random comments. I must say, though, that I have no confidence in my ability to write fiction. I am great at organising complex information into an easily consumable format, but I lack a certain imaginative finesse to create a work of fiction. (I’m curious to try my hand at fiction at some stage – just for fun!)
Now our book is ready for the launch party we have planned. We are using the launch as a fundraiser for Survivors of Suicide that is run by a friend who lost her husband to suicide and couldn’t find the support she needed for her and her children. Unfortunately, the legacy of suicide are scars that don’t seem to heal for many years, of ever. Nick is very active now in talking about farmer well being and the book is helping people talk about mental health and succession planning.
Here’s some of the feedback about the book:
Michael Nash, Senior Researcher of Grains Entomology at SARDI & Former Farmer
“Who Gets the Farm addresses the most significant challenges impacting the sustainability of family farming in Australia right now. Family farming is in crisis effecting individuals, families and communities. We need to address the issue of farm succession planning, to ensure the sustainability and viability of farming for future generations.”
Kevin Moloney, Procurement Management at Ridley AgriProducts & Former Dairy Farmer
“I can identify with the personal stories shared in Who Gets the Farm. I would have liked to have this book when I was going through my own succession planning process. Nick and Ayesha have taken a complex topic and broken it down into simple steps. I highly recommend this book to other farming families who want to create a succession plan and ensure the future viability of their farming enterprise.”
Paul Hansen, Partner & Accountant, MOR Accountants Ballarat
“Our firm regularly helps clients navigate the complex terrain that is succession planning. We’ve seen how challenging it can be for families and how stressful it can be. We’ve also seen how essential succession planning is and what happens when a family doesn’t have a good plan or has no plan at all. Who Gets the Farm will help a lot of families understand what is involved in the succession planning process.”
Nick and I hope that our book can help farmers start the succession planning process and get them thinking about planning for the future, and hopefully taking action!