Just as every small business has its own characteristic strengths and weaknesses, a family farm is built upon a thousand unique factors. Market niche. Natural resources. Weather fluctuations. Worker availability. And… the in-laws.
Plan For Success
When in-laws come into the picture, start with an open mind. True, the stereotype is that in-laws are always your greatest headache – but for many in the agricultural community, in-laws provide encouragement, advice, and resources that hold the farm together during tough times. If you walk into a situation expecting an immediate conflict, you may become your own worst enemy.
Strategize for Mutual Benefit
Family farming relies on ALL members of the family. Develop a working plan that avoids rubbing open old wounds; maybe you disagree with management practices, but it is crucial to begin your relationship on a good note before you enter into difficult negotiations. Find a win-win situation, such as trading the use of that empty pole-barn for a few acres grazing, and develop a precedent of success.
Set Clear Boundaries
Although choosing to set some disagreements on the back burner is often helpful to diffuse a rough situation, there are some areas that are non-negotiable. Plan ahead to anticipate these situations and discuss them before the stress of deadlines adds unnecessary tension. Make it clear where you are flexible and where that flexibility firmly ends. This is often a difficult conversation, but it eliminates unwelcome surprises down the road.
Your in-laws almost always have invaluable expertise and a vested interest in your success. By carefully planning to find common ground in shared goals – while still maintaining firm boundaries – you can nurture that relationship into a strong partnership that helps your farm thrive. Not sure how to develop an effective management plan that takes in-laws and other resources or concerns into account? Contact us. We’d be happy to help you begin that important process for your future.