October 25, 2019

My Daughter Won’t Inherit Our Dairy

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

I have a two-year old daughter. She currently loves puppies, tractors and baby dolls. But even if she wants to farm one day, she won’t inherit our dairy. Sure, if she wants to buy it someday we’d love that, but she won’t receive it as a gift. Here’s why: we started our farm from scratch and we’re better off for it.

Before I dive into all the reasons I won’t be gifting the dairy to my child, it’s worth saying that we’ve not made this decision because we don’t believe in leaving your children an inheritance. In fact, we believe it’s our call to build wealth for our children’s children, and it’s something we’re actively working on. 

So why won’t our daughter get our dairy with a big red bow on it? Here are a few reasons:

1. There’s power in entrepreneurship. We started our dairy with student loan debt, an FSA loan for animals and grandma’s crock pot. The same year we got married we started milking our first 200 animals. To describe it as challenging doesn’t do the situation justice. I was working full time off the farm as well as helping on the dairy and we had no employees. The lessons we learned in that first year are worth their weight in gold and most of them we would not have learned had we inherited our dairy. 

2. The gift of fighting for a dream. I have no doubt our girl is full of perseverance and determination. At just two-years-old, we can already see those traits on full display. However, there’s something special about fighting to make your dream a reality. If owning a dairy is her dream someday, I want her to experience all the gifts of fighting to make that dream become a reality. That’s why we’re open to her purchasing our dairy if that’s what she wants to do. 

3. Ownership as a choice. Ownership is more than just the name on a business license. When we started our farm, we had to take ownership in every aspect of every day. We learned to be scrappy and make do with what we had. Ultimately, we learned that sometimes you’ve got more time than money. According to the Harvard Business Review, 70% of family business fail with the second generation. We’re of the opinion that has a lot to do with lack of ownership and a sense of entitlement. 

4. We want her to choose her own career. Too many times children feel pressured into staying on the family farm. Often, well-meaning parents start saying things to their children at a young age that lead them to believe it’s some kind of heroic act to be the next generation to farm. That it’s the only profession worthy of pursuit. We don’t believe that. If our girl wants to be a doctor, fine. If she thinks acting would be a great career, give it a shot. If cutting hair seems like the right fit to her, we’re good with that. Success is most often directly tied to passion. If she’s not passionate about the dairy, she won’t be successful with it. Our favorite children’s book ends “When I look at you and you look at me, I’ll love you whoever you’ve turned out to be.” And that’s our prayer.