Lastly, building a strong relationship with family members is vital. I have seen farming operations that I thought were unbreakable but were destroyed by poor family relations. Clear communication of goals, responsibilities and expectations will help everyone be on the same page. The importance of strong communication grows exponentially if there are multiple families involved in the operation.
Building strong relationships is just one key to weathering tough times. Frayne Olson, NDSU Extension crops economist/marketing specialist, and I are working on a project to develop a series of stress tests for North Dakota farms. These are data-driven tests that are based on statistical methods. The tests will provide another method for farmers and their lenders to evaluate the strength of their operations.