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The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture is searching for ways to transfer more farms from one generation to the next as fewer young people are getting into the farming business.
Older farmers in the province who want to retire are often unable to find people with the desire and the funds to buy their farms.
It’s a problem that raises questions about the future of the often family-owned agricultural businesses.
One Antigonish County dairy farm has prospered since a new-generation owner took over. The generational handoff was done with an innovative financial approach.
Thomson had the desire, but not the cash, and a dairy farm can cost millions to operate.
“I was committed and passionate. I felt that in order for farms of this size to transfer, there had to be a way to do it, and we found a way to do it,” said Thomson.
To borrow the money, Thomson needed to show some cash or equity and a proven business plan. That is often one of the biggest hurdles in making a sale.
But there was more to the deal between Thomson and Corsten than cash.
Corsten had spent a lifetime clearing the land and building the barns. He wanted to sell it to someone who would keep it going.
“We only bought just what we needed to produce milk,” Thompson said.
Corsten kept the farm machinery, some of the cattle, and some of the land for five years.
He worked on the farm and sold his labour and machinery back to Thomson by the hour.
“It allowed me to spread [payments] out over five years,” Thomson said.