Be prepared for farm succession, speaker says

Alberta family carries on after parent’s tragically killed in accident

As part of their continuing commitment to educate and support farm clients and agribusiness associates, BDO presented an information session dealing with risk management, farm management and positioning the family farm for the future.
The last topic is something Leona Dargis, a self-professed farm girl, is all too familiar with. In 2007, at the age of 21, Dargis and her four younger sisters lost both their parents and their grandmother in a tragic airplane crash.
"We didn't have a succession plan. We were still all so young," said Dargis, a St. Vincent, Alberta native. Her sister Lynn, 20 at the time, took over the operation of the farm and the business operations, while each sister still has holding in the land.
"You need to sit down with your family members and have the discussion about who wants to keep farming and what the future will hold," she said.
And while each sister has taken a different path, they all still come home to help with the busy times at seeding and harvest.
The family farm was started from scratch and grew to 4,000 head of cattle and 7,000 cash crop acres.
"The farm was a real family effort and we were given responsibilities. It gave us a boost and self-confidence to know that we really had a role in the farm operation. We worked as hard as we needed too," she said in Mitchell last Thursday, Dec. 15.
Dargis said at the time of her parent's death, she decided to take a step back from the business.
"It was more important for us to maintain our connection as a family," she said.
The Dargis' were all about family and living life to the fullest.
"Life is what you make of it," she added. "We have to make choices every day, in our attitude, in what we say and how we act.
"We get to be where we are in life because of the choices we make. With every challenge lies an opportunity," she said.
Dargis' love of farming and her caring nature led her to be a member of the Canadian Young Farmer's Forum, the Royal Agriculture Society of the Commonwealth and is the youngest recipient of the Nuffield Scholarship. Her involvements in these farm organizations have taken her around the world to help better farm practices around the world.
She said from her travels, she has learned that most agricultural industries around the world are in the same boat.
"There is an urban and rural disconnect, concerns about food safety, the global markets and the world population," she said.
Dargis said what she has realized is that farmers need to be accepting of change and open to trying new things.
"Most of all you have to love what you do and have fun doing it," she said.


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