Succession plan for dairy farms: key points to consider

Succession plan, farm succession

In the world of dairy farms, ensuring long-term sustainability not only involves efficient day-to-day operations, but also thorough planning for the future. One of the critical aspects that is often overlooked is the succession plan. This process is crucial to the smooth transfer of responsibilities and ownership, ensuring continued exploration success.

Succession planning is an important process that can help ensure your dairy farm remains prosperous for generations to come. For this planning it is important to invite all family members who may be involved in the succession, be honest and open about your expectations and concerns and be willing to make compromises to reach an agreement in which everyone can help.

It should also be noted that the succession plan is important not only for dairy producers who are thinking of retiring, but also in the event of unexpected events such as illness.

In this article, we will cover key points for a successful Succession Plan.

Understanding the Succession Plan

Succession planning is the deliberate and systematic process of identifying, nurturing and preparing individuals to fill key roles within the dairy farm.

Agricultural succession planning is the process of transferring assets, knowledge and skills from the current generation to the next generation. This is an important process to ensure business continuity and avoid family conflicts.

Dairy farmers should create a structured succession plan. This plan must cover both management and ownership transitions, ensuring the sustainability of the farm over generations.

Succession plan farm succession 1

Start early: time is of the essence

The succession plan is a journey that must begin early in the life of the dairy farm, so that the transfer of responsibilities is gradual, making it a smoother transition.

Family succession on dairy farms is a complex and multifaceted process, requiring meticulous planning and open communication between generations. Time, in this context, plays a crucial role, as negligence in starting the process sufficiently in advance can lead to serious consequences for the viability and future of the property.

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Open Communication and Family Dynamics

Communication is crucial to a successful succession plan. It is important to advise dairy farm owners/dairy producers to promote open and transparent dialogue between family members and key stakeholders. Therefore, communication must be clear and transparent in order to manage expectations, address concerns and align everyone's goals for the future of exploration. In a scenario where family succession plays a fundamental role in the perpetuation of dairy farms, open communication and family dynamics emerge as an essential pillar for the success of the process. This communication goes beyond the simple exchange of information, establishing a channel for transparent, respectful and constructive dialogue between the different generations involved.

Talent Identification and Development

The farmer owner must begin to identify potential successors based on skills, knowledge and passion for raising dairy cows. Furthermore, it should encourage the next generation to obtain education and experience by creating training programs to ensure that the next generation is well prepared to assume the succession.

Succession plan farm succession 2

Financial Planning and Legal Considerations

A well-executed succession plan requires meticulous planning. Therefore, the importance of dairy producers working with financial advisors to assess the current financial health of the farm and develop strategies to finance the transition must be emphasized. This includes considerations about tax implications, estate planning and potential sources of financing. Legal considerations are equally vital.

Financial and legal professionals with experience in agricultural law should be recommended to draft and review documents such as wills, purchase and sale agreements and contracts, ensuring the legality and enforceability of these documents to protect the interests of all parties involved in the succession process.


Succession planning is an essential component of dairy farm sustainability, ensuring the continued viability and prosperity of farms. Trusted advisors can empower dairy farmers to navigate this complex process, promoting transparency, preserving family harmony and ensuring the future of dairy farming for generations to come.

Succession planning must start early, promote open communication, identify and develop talent and also address financial and legal aspects.

A well-executed succession plan ensures the future of the dairy farm as well as contributing to the sustainability of the farming community as a whole. 

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Dairy NZ. (nd). Succession . Retrieved February 14, 2024, from

de Oliveira Müller, B., Bánkuti, F. I., dos Santos, G. T., Borges, J. A. R., da Silva Siqueira, T. T., & Damasceno, J. C. (2024). Sociopsychological factors underlying dairy farmers’ intention to adopt succession planning. Animal - Open Space, 3, 100057.

Kirkpatrick, J., & Wantoch, K. L. (n.d.). Ten Things to Consider for Succession Planning . Retrieved February 14, 2024, from

Rech, L. R., Binotto, E., Cremon, T., & Bunsit, T. (2021). What are the options for farm succession? Models for farm business continuity. Journal of Rural Studies, 88, 272–278.

Wenger, C. (2010). Farm Succession Planning Steps and Checklist .


Ana Vanessa Dias Sousa (Researcher FeedInov CoLAB)

About the author

With a degree in Veterinary Sciences from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, she worked for five years as a field veterinarian and in a pig and cattle feed factory. She worked in the pharmaceutical industry as a sales manager and technical support for pigs, cattle, rabbits and poultry in mainland Portugal and the Azores. She is currently at Feedinov Colab as a Researcher in the One Health Department.

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