One Indiana farm family farmed the same land together for 20 years. Father, mom, sons, daughters-in-laws- they all had a role on the farm of one sort of another. And to all but a few very close friends, everything looked good from the outside. The family was well-respected, and their operation was profitable. They produced quality crops and livestock.
Then suddenly there was a sale, and the operation was no more. Various parties went different directions to do different things. Some who heard about it couldn't believe it. Only later did the facts come out- there were underlying differences which went unresolved for years. Sometimes they blossomed into physical confrontations. Other times it was just verbal communication, or periods of no communication at all. But what looked like a well-oiled machine from the outside turned out to be a time bomb waiting to blow up.
Sometimes what families get from attending the Purdue University Farming Together Workshop, coming up Jan. 28 and 29, is learning that they really aren't suited to working together, not unless certain people, usually everyone involved, is willing to make some changes.
One of Bob Taylor's bits of advice he's passed on during is remarkable 50-year career as a teacher at Purdue University in farm management is that just because you were born into the same family, or have the same parents, doesn't mean that you're all meant to be business partners. Sometimes you need to choose your business partner for other reasons than because you're family.
As soon as a family registers for the upcoming workshop, each participant will receive what's called a Myers-Briggs Type assessment for use in the communications session during the program. This instrument used by sociologists for years and for those who train leaders helps determine what type of personally who fit into. Some good farming operations include persons who are different on these tests- differing personalities can complement each either. However, they can also lead to conflict, especially if the people involved have never sat down and formally thought about how they are different from one another.
For those families in the thick of reorganizing the business to bring someone home to join it, participants will also be asked to fill out a form which allows them to submit legal questions before they attend the conference. All these pre-conference activities will help instructors be better prepared to deal with issues that might arise during the class.
To register, visit: www.agecon.purdue.edu/extension/programs/farm_together.asp.