CASE STUDY

1. Introduction

The dairy cattle business has been extended on a large scale over the past 30 years. Even before the actual succession, the successor had most of the responsibility in the agricultural enterprise. In addition to agriculture, he offered service for stable equipment. This was the focus of the family business before it was handed over in 1993. The entrepreneurial spirit has increased over the generations. The son of the current entrepreneur is already integrated into the company, makes decisions and is involved in all important discussions and negotiations.

2. Promoter Profile

Name n.n.
Age 50
Gender Male
Education Farmer; Further education in psychology and care of people in crisis situations
Marital Status Married
Children 22yr, 18yr, 10yr

3. Farm Profile

Address Bavaria in Germany
Farm Area in ha 60 ha
Date since when the family owns the farm Since more than 4 generations
Nº of workers on the farm (Family members) 1 (Full time) 2 (Part time)
Nº of workers on the farm (Other than family members) 0

Farm description BEFORE succession

At the time the farm was handed over, it was in bad condition. The predecessor did not invest in the agricultural business, but instead increasingly focused on his side job apart from agriculture. Thus, from the age of 16, the successor and his mother, who actually led the farm, were the businesspeople. The successor also worked part-time for other farmers and on construction sites. He put his savings into the agricultural business to buy the necessary technical equipment. The succession took place 4 weeks before his wedding. At the time the farm was handed over it had 22ha of agricultural land (of which 13ha are owned by the successor) with 28 dairy cows and their calves.

Farm description AFTER succession

Since the succession, the operation has been greatly improved. A new stable and a new home were built, 7 ha agricultural land has been purchased, and additional technology has been procured. The quality of the soil has been recorded and analyzed. Finally, the entire farm was converted to organic production. The business development was very challenging, and took place parallel to the founding of the successors family. His three children are now between 22 and 10 years old and his wife is 46 years old. Together, the family lives in the new, spacious house. Their experience in the succession-phase was very good, and they are already preparing for the next succession. Today, 65 dairy cows are kept and approx. 60ha of agricultural used land is managed according to organic guidelines.

4. Succession Process

The successor would have preferred to have some more time to make the decision. However, due to his upcoming marriage and the founding of his family, there was additional pressure that had an accelerating effect. The transfer was badly prepared, as no communication took place in this regard.
The spouse's wife had a hard time with his mother. There was never praise or recognition for the tremendous performance of the young successor before or after the hand-over.
Before the hand-over, the successor was simply a very good worker. He did not have any insight into the profitability of the farm. Details of the operation were not given to the successor prior to the succession. He earned money through part-time work for other farmers and rural institutions. On the farm he had free food and accommodation. In this respect, he was always consoled with the following words: "You will get the farm some day!"
In this respect, the successor took over an economic "black box" in 1993. Sadly, the succession was not acknowledged in a reasonable way. After the appointment with the notary, the successor drove back to the construction site.
After the succession, the relationship between all parties involved was never particularly great, but was still acceptable. The two younger siblings of the successor were compensated with money. They all came to terms with the situation. Nothing else would have been in favor, neither for the family nor the business development. The successor had already developed his own personal direction before the hand-over, and had a clear picture of his future business in the organic sector. In retrospect - also because today's situation is better, and both the family and the business have been developed - the transfer process was bad, but today's result is very good. However, the situation immediately after handing over the farm was bad, and an economic and human challenge. The lessons learned from it have already yielded results. The successor has already taken his 22-year-old son into an operational company in order to base the next hand-over on extensive practical and accounting knowledge of the company.

Threats/Challenges

  • No information on the economic situation, assets and liabilities were given to the successor prior to succession. Due to this lack of information and the poor state of buildings and technology, it was very difficult to develop the company for the future. Not even the current situation of the business was known.
  • Housing situation: initially three generations lived under one roof. This only worked because all the parties - especially the successor and his wife - were always de-escalating. The close proximity even after work was very problematic, as there were interpersonal problems. With relocation to the newly built residential house, the relationship was significantly better.

Main Training/Skills/Competences

  • It is very important to gain experience outside your own company. This knowledge is irreplaceable, as there are important impulses for the reflection of one's own actions on the farm.


  • Exchange with farmers / consultants: since the entrepreneur did not have an entrepreneurial model in the predecessor, it was necessary and good to seek exchange, and also to look at other things, procedures and approaches during his part-time work.



"Talk to each other - predecessor and successor- more often. Repeated discussions of all stakeholders, and concrete, complete and equal information for all as a basis is very helpful, as it takes the emotion out of the matter and helps to have an objective view."
"No process is running optimally. But it also depends on your point of view. Check that the glass is always half full. Positive thinking helps enormously!"

Succesor Advice

5. Considerations, skills/competences and queries/questions