Successful Succession

A father shares his wisdom with his daughter hoping she spreads it throughout the world.

Preparing to pass down the farm after almost 40 years can be difficult, but the resources Texas Corn Producers can help to relieve stress during a time of discomfort. As the fourth generation of the Spurlock family prepares to pass down their legacy, TCP provided an easy-to-use tool to help pass down the farm in a successful succession. 

Wesley and Susie Spurlock farm over 20,000 acres in Stratford, Texas, and surrounding areas of the Texas Panhandle. Spurlock Farms has been based out of Sherman County since the late 1800s. Wesley is the fourth generation to farm his family’s original land. Wesley and Susie have operated Spurlock Farms with the help of their two children, Walter and Jennie. Who now have families of their own helping to continue the legacy of Spurlock Farms. 

“We see our farming operation will continue upon the passing of Wesley and me, and the ownership will go to our children,” Susie said. “That’s one of the things we kind of looked at and talked about, you know, ‘Do our kids want to be a part of production agriculture?’”

TCP saw an issue in farm succession and chose to do something about it. After teaming up with Tiffany Lashmet, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension law specialist, they created a resource guide to successfully pass down family farms. 

“The resource guide is a huge help,” Susie said. “It forces you to sit down, talk about the things no one likes talking about, and write important information out.” 

“The biggest gift that could be given to me is the peace of mind that we now have a will and a plan for what happens next.”

Susie Spurlock

The resource guide consists of four steps that include identifying where you are now, communication and strategy, designing a business succession plan, and developing an estate plan. Angie Martin, TCP industry affairs director said they wanted a user-friendly succession tool that farmers could fill it out themselves and complete without outside assistance. 

“The guide itself is easy to fill out,” Susie said. “The first step is the longest because it requires a lot of information about you, your family, your farm, your insurance agencies, and things of that nature. The checklist allowed me to see what I lacked before flipping and searching through the guide.” 

 TCP wanted alleviate worries for individuals who are currently running the family business. By producing this tool, Martin said they intended to lessen the burden on those after the passing of a loved one. 

“Death is a monster as it is,” Martin said. “We hoped by producing this resource guide it would encourage farmers to be proactive and have those hard conversations with their loved ones.”

Susie chose to be proactive after waking up one morning and realizing she and Wesley were almost 65. She said her family has traveled around the world with a will that was written roughly 30 years ago. The idea of starting a succession plan occurred on Susie’s most recent birthday.

“Last year, I told Wesley I want us to start getting our will updated and make a plan for what we want to do,” Spurlock said. “The biggest gift that could be given to me is the peace of mind that we now have a will and a plan for what happens next.”

Susie’s peace of mind began when talking with her two adult children about their future involvement in Spurlock Farms. She stated as parents this was the first step of their succession plan. 

“My kids both stated that they wanted to stay apart of production agriculture,” Susie said. “They have a desire for the farm to stay successful and continue a legacy that their dad and grandparents have worked so hard for. “

TCP knows most farmers avoid talking about death. Their goal was to produce a resource guide aiming to assist Texas farmers in knowing where to start and what information is needed before ever stepping foot in a lawyer’s office. 

“In just a few steps, farmers can feel prepared in developing a succession plan that leaves a clear path of direction for the future of the legacy they’ve built over decades,” Martin said. 

The Spurlocks have since completed their resource guide, met with an attorney, and drafted a new will and estate plan. Wesley and Susie now have the peace of mind knowing a plan has been put into place. 

“We have been blessed by the leadership of Texas Corn Producers and the fact that they work hard being an advocate for the farmers,” Susie said. “The work they put in to try to preserve our way of life is important and appreciated by many.”