Comments from Tom and Irene Frantzen
on their generational transfer plans
2013 Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference
Noon Lunch Program Jan. 12, 2013
Progress has little to do with speed but a lot to do with direction. I would say that the first years we farmed may had had speed but the way our farm was operated had little direction.
That would change in October of 1979 when Pope John Paul the Second made his historic visit to Iowa. My elderly mother was very excited about this visit, and she made careful arrangements to be a part of this gathering.
I certainly knew about the commotion, but I had more important things to do. One of those activities was to get our barn painted. It was a brisk October day, and although I seldom listen to the radio, as I proceeded to brush the red paint on, I listened to the address from a radio broadcast. I heard the words “the land is yours to be preserved for generation upon generation.”
I was dumbstruck. I could not continue to paint. I actually felt as if the Pontiff was on the ladder with me! I slowly crawled to the ground, set aside my brush and pail, and went for a long walk. Tears fell, and I was overcome with emotion.
In the years that followed on the farm, I would say we walked by faith and not by sight. We had a direction of stewardship, but each step brought uncertainty. These steps became easier when the Land Stewardship and Practical Farmers of Iowa came into existence. We were not alone in this journey of stewardship.
Allan Savory brought the concept of holistic management to the United States soon afterwards. Irene and I took this course, where we learned the value of a goal-oriented decision-making process supported by our personal values. We wrote a three-part goal for our farm, and we have used these principles to guide our decision-making ever since.
We began the discussion of generational transfer the year that I turned 57. I will be 61 this spring, and that transfer plan is in place. Our experience with Holistic Management gave us a valuable decision-making guide as we thought about what we wanted for this farm long-term. After some though we wrote this as our generational goal:
…long term protection for a true Iowa family farm that has significant conservation features blended into a working landscape
Now we could propose actions and see if those proposals supported this goal. We involved a consultant and had several meetings with that person. He visited the farm. Together we wrote a plan for the generational transfer of our land.
Then we set this proposal aside and thought about it—for about a year. We then rejected all of the consultant’s recommendations in regards to the farm. They failed to meet our defined goal.
Last winter we wrote a different plan for the farm. It is as Teresa has described.
There are two things in life that get us into trouble. One is compliments and the other is criticisms. If we think we deserve the compliments, we get a proud heart and pride always proceeds the fall. When we think we do not deserve the criticisms, we get a bitter heart and a bitter heart cannot be a heart filled with the Holy Spirit. The solution to this dilemma is to give those comments back to a Supreme Being when we receive them and not to get too involved with what others have to say about our actions.
This does not mean that other people’s input is without value, but that any comments or suggestions must be measured against our goals.
We truly appreciate the love and support of our family, who are with us today. They have all been a part of the discussion and process toward our decision. I’d like to share a phrase that was in fact the inspiration for our action. The love in your heart was not put there to stay. It is not really love until you give it away.
We have full confidence in PFI to be good stewards in protecting and preserving the Frantzen Farm long after we are gone. We care about the land and the community all around. We want the Frantzen Farm to be a continuance of a healthy Iowa family farm in Chickasaw County. What better way to do this but through the hands and love, and the trust of PFI. PFI is more than just growing crops and putting food on the table. PFI has been a big part of our lives for many years. You are our family, our extended family. We believe in you, PFI’s values, and in our hearts we know we have done the right thing.