Recently, I have been asking growers to help me understand their biggest concerns for the future—what keeps them up at night? The most common answers were focused on low commodity prices coupled with the high cost of production. But, growers in the mid-to-latter part of their careers are spending a lot time thinking about succession planning and what will happen to their operations and assets when they are no longer farming. It’s not an easy matter to address.
Per USDA, the number of farmers age 55 or older increased six percent from 2007 to 2012 (USDA, NASS-Census of Agriculture). It’s likely that trend will continue when the next census is taken in 2017. There is little doubt that growers are working more years just as non-farmers are doing. However, unlike the non-farming public, most farmers are self-employed and have built a business that is comprised of assets and “know-how.”
Many growers want to preserve the legacy of their family farm by passing it to the next generation. As some sixth generation PCCA members are doing, assets are preserved through inheritance and the know-how from working side-by-side with family. But, it’s getting harder to ask family members to continue in a business that has been so difficult in recent years.
Making sure the next generation knows the path toward success is the answer to the challenge of keeping the farm in the family. That is why
so many long-time PCCA members communicate the importance of cooperative ownership to their children and grandchildren. Farming is a long-term commitment, and you need to know that your local cooperative will be there to serve the family farm for many years down the road.
For its part, PCCA is constantly looking for ways to adapt to the future of cotton marketing. Our members expect nothing less. In addition to our pool marketing and online trading, we are exploring innovative ways that growers may want to sell their crop in the future.
Providing value both now and well into the future is at the core of our mission. Successfully executing on that commitment will ensure growers can provide an optimistic outlook to their children and grandchildren if farming is part of their future.