- DTN Headline News
Family Business Matters
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 8:03AM CDT
By Lance Woodbury
DTN Farm Business Adviser

Several weeks ago, I visited Joe Nichols, the owner of Seven Springs Farms, in Cadiz, Kentucky. In the course of showing me his office, which is full of pictures, agricultural symbols and historic artifacts, Joe pointed to a framed letter hanging on the wall -- a note from a farmer/landowner for whom Joe repaired equipment, as the repair work allowed Joe to transition into farming full-time. When that farmer retired, he decided to rent his farm to Joe. That same landowner also lent Joe some equipment when he was just getting started and had almost nothing to his name.

Joe said by giving him a chance to farm, that landowner made an unforgettable difference in his life. "If the office were burning, that letter is the first thing I'd grab on my way out the door," he explained. With those words, Joe told me the letter -- and the opportunity it represented -- had become an important part of his own legacy.


As I spent more time with Joe and began to understand what was important to him, the idea that one's legacy reaches beyond physical assets -- the land and the money -- came into sharper focus. In Joe's case, and for many of you reading this article, your legacy includes, but is so much more than, the farm, equipment and cash you leave to your heirs. Your legacy represents the values, principles and behaviors that have defined your life.


For example, the letter Joe showed me represented opportunity. In this case, the power of giving someone a chance to get started in agriculture and knowing firsthand the impact that act of generosity can have made Joe want to create opportunities for others. Paying opportunity forward has guided his interaction with family, partners and employees. Giving others opportunities to achieve their goals is now paramount in his life.


Another example of a deeper notion of legacy is caring for others. This might be helping those in need, perhaps during a medical or family emergency. Joe and several other farmers I know have helped people by providing money (often anonymously), the use of equipment, introductions or connections. Or, they have simply been physically and emotionally present when those they know have been beset by unfortunate circumstances.


Another aspect of legacy is bouncing back when you encounter difficult circumstances. Joe is not the only farmer who has been through tough times, but the way one works his or her way out of economic or environmental catastrophe -- what many people call "resiliency" -- is as much a part of who they are as any line on a financial statement. It's not the circumstances that define you, it's your response to those events. And, that response is an important part of your legacy.


A final component of legacy that I see in many farmers and ranchers, including Joe, is leadership and risk-taking. Making a decision, jumping in, standing tall for what they believe is right, even when it's not popular or when it's not the safest route to go, is something their heirs may also embrace. That doesn't mean people have a license to act foolishly, but it does mean a personal investment and a willingness to push through uncertainty and act with resolve are what people will remember for generations to come.

Legacy is a multifaceted concept that is worth thinking deeply about. Though people in coming generations will certainly be thankful for the acreage you pass down, they will be even more blessed by the values you embrace and example you set for them today.


Editor's Note: Write Lance Woodbury at Family Business Matters, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email lance@agprogress.com.


blog iconDTN Blogs & Forums
DTN Market Matters Blog
Editorial Staff
Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:02AM CDT
Monday, October 14, 2019 8:26AM CDT
Friday, October 11, 2019 8:47AM CDT
Technically Speaking
Editorial Staff
Monday, October 14, 2019 8:39AM CDT
Monday, October 7, 2019 9:27AM CDT
Monday, September 30, 2019 8:48AM CDT
Fundamentally Speaking
Joel Karlin
DTN Contributing Analyst
Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:42AM CDT
Thursday, October 3, 2019 1:22PM CDT
Thursday, September 26, 2019 10:39AM CDT
DTN Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 4:51PM CDT
Wednesday, October 9, 2019 9:23PM CDT
Monday, October 7, 2019 12:16PM CDT
Minding Ag's Business
Katie Behlinger
Farm Business Editor
Friday, October 11, 2019 10:19AM CDT
Monday, September 30, 2019 4:22PM CDT
Friday, September 13, 2019 4:03PM CDT
DTN Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson
DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 3:00PM CDT
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 8:26AM CDT
Friday, October 11, 2019 12:12PM CDT
DTN Production Blog
Pam Smith
Crops Technology Editor
Friday, October 4, 2019 12:59PM CDT
Friday, September 20, 2019 6:07PM CDT
Friday, September 6, 2019 2:43PM CDT
Harrington's Sort & Cull
John Harrington
DTN Livestock Analyst
Monday, October 14, 2019 12:28PM CDT
Wednesday, October 2, 2019 6:24PM CDT
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 2:57PM CDT
South America Calling
Editorial Staff
Monday, September 9, 2019 10:59AM CDT
Tuesday, September 3, 2019 11:58AM CDT
Wednesday, August 7, 2019 8:34AM CDT
An Urban’s Rural View
Urban Lehner
Editor Emeritus
Monday, October 14, 2019 8:21AM CDT
Wednesday, October 2, 2019 1:41PM CDT
Monday, September 23, 2019 8:18AM CDT
Machinery Chatter
Dan Miller
Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Monday, October 7, 2019 2:56PM CDT
Thursday, October 3, 2019 3:58PM CDT
Friday, September 20, 2019 3:36PM CDT
Canadian Markets
Cliff Jamieson
Canadian Grains Analyst
Thursday, October 17, 2019 3:32PM CDT
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 4:28PM CDT
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 4:32PM CDT
Editor’s Notebook
Greg D. Horstmeier
DTN Editor-in-Chief
Thursday, October 3, 2019 11:08AM CDT
Tuesday, August 27, 2019 4:36PM CDT
Tuesday, August 6, 2019 12:29PM CDT
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN