There’s a common perception in the business community that family-run operations rarely survive through the third generation.

Unfortunately, when it comes to agriculture, that perception rings ominously true. How many third-generation farmers do you see at the corner cafe today, compared to 20-30 years ago? 

It's no secret that the number of family farms and ranches has severely declined over the years. Consolidation is partly to blame for the downward trend, but so is the lack of interest in succession. The older generations are selling off their operations because nobody wants to take them over.

For years, agricultural producers have suffered volatile commodities prices while costs for land and equipment have kept rising. The race to keep up with technology and the latest chemical treatments has added even more pressures. Producers are getting squeezed from every side, and so are their profits.

With conditions like these, who can blame the younger generations for not wanting to stick around? Raising livestock and working the land is a rugged and fulfilling lifestyle, but market forces and conventional production methods continue to challenge the longevity of that decision. To many young adults, the lure of four-year degrees and stable office jobs is more enticing.

But there is hope! Overturning this trend is possible. It will require new ideas, a small leap of faith, and a thoughtful balance of these four key elements: Soil, Finances, Lifestyle and Succession.

The Starion Bank Legacy Agriculture program will produce seminars that cover each of these elements in depth. We want to provide farmers and ranchers with the information and tools they need to make decisions that can help them improve the long-term viability of their operations.

Look for these seminars to begin soon. To give you a sneak peek at what each of these four elements means and how they interconnect, here’s a quick primer:

Soil Health

Healthy soil is the foundation of your operation, whether your product is cattle or row crops.

Current crop growing methods rely on tilling and chemical fertilizers. These not only disturb the fragile ecosystem beneath the surface each time you use them, but they can also do serious damage to the long-term productivity of your soil.

One way to reinvigorate the soil is by planting cover crops on unused fields. The roots of cover crops loosen the soil and enrich it with organic matter. This creates a fertile environment for worms and microscopic critters that break down the organic matter and aerate the soil, which improves moisture absorption and retention.

Crop rotation, livestock integration, multi-species grazing, and other methods are also useful for nurturing soil health and improving production yields. Learning how these techniques may apply to your unique operation can set you on a course for higher yields with less money spent on machinery and chemicals.

Financial Health

Agricultural debt has risen steadily since 1991. Over the last 30 years, debt growth has averaged 3.9% per year. When debt and input costs keep rising, and sales aren’t keeping up, it’s easy to see why taking over a family operation isn’t an attractive career option.

Part of overturning the trend is to change the way agriculture is financed. Typically, an operation may lean on a line of credit throughout the year in order to finance the day-to-day needs. After product is sold, the line of credit is paid off and the cycle begins again.

If you’re curious about moving towards regenerative agriculture, you may already know that the process can take years, not just a season. The problem is that your current financing tools may not match up with your transition plans.

Starion has created a range of new financial products tailored to the needs of all regenerative producers. Whether you are exploring, transitioning, or already established in regenerative practices, we’ll spend time learning about you and your operation, and help you match the right financial products with your strategic goals.


Which situation more closely resembles your current lifestyle?
  1. You live in reaction mode. The next season or sale is all that's on your mind. Debt payments leaving almost nothing for savings or reinvestment. Unexpected challenges leave you scrambling, stressed, and exhausted.
  2. You work with trusted advisors to develop a plan with specific goals and milestones. The tools and decision-making framework in the plan help you anticipate and overcome challenges as they arise. This keeps your operation on a path to long-term success and succession.
If the first situation hits too close to home, we understand. Living season to season in a reactive rut has become more common. It simply costs more nowadays to produce on the same acreage. Getting out of that rut requires a change in outlook, tools and techniques.

Our goal is to help you move to the second situation. The one that puts you in control of your future.

Starion’s Legacy Agriculture Program helps you develop a custom framework, take advantage of tailored financial tools, and meet the goals you choose for your operation.


If you’re in a shaky financial situation and your yields are suffering, what are the incentives for the next generation to take over the family operation and inherit a pile of headaches and heartburn? Not much.

So you can see how these elements are stacking up. A foundation of healthy land and finances improves your chances for a comfortable lifestyle, which in turn increases the odds of the operation passing to the next generation.

An interest in taking over isn’t enough, though. Succession planning takes a lot of family discussion and some consultation from financial and legal experts. Your operation is unique and complex, and so handing it over requires all the right boxes to be checked. And that leads us to . . .

How Can Starion Help?

With our decades of support in local agriculture and our expertise in holistic and regenerative practices, Starion Bank is uniquely positioned to help local producers overcome these challenges. Our seminars on each of these critical elements will give you information, tools, and access to experts in their respective fields. You will also have time to speak with other producers from the area who are facing, and overcoming, many of the same challenges.

But you don’t have to wait. Call us today and speak to our agribusiness bankers about our new financial tools for regenerative producers. We can help you find the right financial fit for your future plans and put you in touch with experts in soil health and succession planning.