The Successors, Ep 3: Getting involved with a board, finding your place, and enjoying a good family dinner
The Successors is a RealAgriculture podcast series hosted by Kara Oosterhuis focusing on agriculture from the perspective of the up-and-coming generation.
What does it take to successfully farm with your family? How do you tackle multiple roles on the farm, and involvement with commodity groups? Why do we need to celebrate the successes in years that can sometimes feel like they have no success at all?
Hannah Konschuh, operator of Generation Land & Grain Co. Ltd. at Cluny, Alta., tackles these questions (and more) in the latest episode of The Successors.
When it comes to potentially sitting on a commodity board, farmers can have many questions, including: Am I too young? When can I join? How on earth do I make that first step?.
Konschuh says a good place to start is getting acquainted with any of the communications that comes out from the boards.
“Figure out all the ways to get engaged and sign up for all the information coming out of all the commissions from whatever your province is,” she says. “A thing that happens on the commissions is there is a lot of work to do and not always enough bodies to do that work. So if someone was interested in getting involved, I would say the next thing you should do is find your regional meeting that happens in the fall time. It’s a great time to come out and learn what the commissions have been up to and meet the people.”
The physical act of being home on the family farm isn’t something Konschuh originally had in her sights. Achieving a B.Sc. in Agriculture and M.Sc. in Soil Science, working in industry, then coming to a bit of a crossroads, opportunity eventually led her back. The youngest of three sisters, Konschuh says that although her parents had hoped for some sort of a successor, she never felt pressure to come back.
“They always said ‘go out, do your thing, and get your education.’ So I think once they realized that I was at a sort of transitional phase, I think they sort of saw that as a window of if there is any potential for [me] to join the farm, it’s going to be now. So there was definitely no pressure, and a lot of discussion of what that would look like, and what the potential was like for us as a farm — for myself as an individual, and then with my husband, for us as a couple to join the farm,” she says.
In the early stages of succession with her parents, and as a self-described planner, Konschuh says having conversations early on with your family is important, and having them early. Utilizing the resources around you (for both parties involved) can be just as important.
“Its pretty daunting to think ‘alright, now I’m going to farm,’ or ‘alright, now I’m going to retire,’ so finding some resources to get you started would be really important. And then of course if you need it — access a third party expert as well. Whether that’s a facilitator or your accountant. Starting off with your accountant, they may be able to provide help or start you off on a path of finding some resources. So those are all things that we did that really helped us,” Konschuh states.
Listen on for a conversation with Hannah Konschuh and host Kara Oosterhuis on finding what you love to do in the operation, separating business and family meetings, understanding you don’t have to love every day of what you do, and so much more: