Many dairy farm families will agree that working with family is rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Many family business partners face a unique set of challenges, including difficulty confronting one another, trouble dealing with change, struggles with leaving work at the ‘office’, and difficulty finding a line between professional and personal.

Working with Family

When working with family on the farm, unresolved conflicts, lack of trust, difficult family relationships, and family demands on business can all contribute to poor business performance and family functioning. To strengthen family dynamics on the farm, it’s important to:

  • Use family values in developing plans, actions, and overall family business culture
  • Reinforce clear roles and boundaries
  • Wear one hat at a time
  • Address conflict and areas of tension. When addressed properly, conflict is often healthy and can lead to enhanced creativity and decision-making.

For more tools and resources for working with family, click here to watch Part One of our “People Side of Dairying” webinar series. Enter the following password to view: 1D?#i*21

Dealing with Change

As you manage a family business, there are often different types of people on dairy farm teams. With so many personalities and viewpoints, there can be resistance to implementing new changes and challenges with navigating team discussions around change.

There are three main factors to address when your family is discussing and planning for change:

  • ReadinessHow ready your organization and key people are to make changes.
  • Capability The skills, people, training, and resources needed to implement change.
  • Beliefs The overall attitude of the organization in relation to the change.

For more resources on the process of navigating change, click here to watch Part Two of our “People Side of Dairying” webinar series. Enter the following password to view: 7M@Z5$2i

Email Dr. Charles Gardner for additional support.

Working with a Team

Family businesses can often benefit from a team approach to decision-making. A dairy farm team can provide a broader perspective and help navigate difficult decisions and bottlenecks on the farm, leading to improved profitability, enhanced performance and future opportunities. It can also smooth the road for transition to the next generation or transformation into a new business model.

“Based on discussions we were having with the team, my parents really wanted to have a smooth transition of the farm in place for me and my wife,” said Andy Bollinger of Meadow Spring Farm in Lititz, Pa. during the webinar. “Our accountant took charge of that and worked with an attorney to put together a transfer of assets, which also addressed my non-farming siblings. It helped to ensure they will receive value from the farm in the future and gave me the ability to continue farming for a long time.”

The Center for Dairy Excellence leverages funds provided through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to provide grants to individual farms that are interested in establishing either a Dairy Profit, Transition or Transformation Team.

In Part Three of our “People Side of Dairying” webinar series, hear from two Pennsylvania dairy producers who have achieved successful results on their farms after implementing a dairy farm team. Click here to watch the webinar. Enter the following password to view:  8y.H=r4N

Email Melissa Anderson for more information about working with teams.