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Saving the Family Farm: Butting Heads

Many family farms have to find ways to cut costs just to survive and it’s stressful. It brings out egos and stubborn, hot heads. The patriarch of the family is usually the boss; business partners or younger generations are trying to be boss, and the farm falls apart because they’re butting heads.

Andy Junkin is a farmer, mediator, and coach for farm families. He says instead of everyone wanting to be the Alpha-male, the family needs to brainstorm and make decisions as a group.

"Everything from where the 9/16 wrench is stored, to getting an agreement within the partnership as to what the debt-to-equity ratio should be going forward is absolutely critical. I see so many things, like, last week I had grandma throw a juice container at her grandson because she and her grandson had a different philosophy on the percentage of debt-to-equity ratio the farm should have," he says. "And I think it’s these types of arguments that cause a lot of families to fall apart."

Junkin says it’s going to take a change in mindset and the willingness to think outside the box.

"If you want to be farming 10-years from now, you’ve got to realize that you’ve got to be the bigger man and admit you’re wrong, or admit that there’s different ways to do things and be looking for the best option," he says. "We are backstabbing each other and always fighting about who’s right rather than sitting down and solving our problems together as a team."

Hold weekly team meetings and start by finding ways to solve the little things together. Junkin says as a result, your family will find consistencies in philosophy and you’ll be able to tackle the big issues.

Hear more of how Andy helps farm families work together by listening to this podcast with him.

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