Hints for a more successful family dairy operation

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Ron Hanson, professor of agribusiness at the University of Nebraska, offers the following advice to help make your dairy business better:

  • Don’t rush it. Too many times, commitments are made and then things don’t work out as planned. Be sure that a son or daughter really has the motivation to dairy and that everyone has the desire to get along and work together. Give a family farming situation a “trial run” before signing any formal agreements.
  • Talk things out ahead of time. Don’t make important decisions under time pressure or emotional stress. Give everyone a chance to review the situation and think things through before reacting and reaching a final decision.
  • Talk about the “what- if” situations. Build escape clauses/options into any formal arrangement. Avoid being locked into a situation with no way out.
  • Openly discuss goals, personal feelings and expectations. This will help to eliminate many of the misunderstandings that can arise in a family farming operation. Include all family members.
  • Seek outside help/counseling when needed. This outside influence encourages family members to work out disagreements in a more objective and professional manner.
  • Recognize there will be “moments.” Keep a positive attitude and proper perspective at all times. Remember to smile and have fun while working together. Keep business matters separate from family social gatherings.
  • Keep communication open. Take time to listen and understand the feelings of other family members. Even if you disagree, be sure that there is an element of mutual respect.


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