Farming with family members requires give and take

Guest blog by Brent Royce, Ontario turkey farmer

Sometimes determination takes a while to prove itself. This week I was able to tell my dad, “I told you so” with only a 10 year waiting period!

As with any business, there will be disagreements with partners involved. In a family farm business it is amplified by the fact that those partners are also parents or siblings with whom you sit down with for normal family time like Christmas.  During the time of transfer of responsibility for decisions, this becomes more of a challenge, as everyone on both sides of the process will agree.

Even though I got to say I was right, somehow dad managed to leave me thinking about the issue and realized he still was able to reinforce management ideas that I already knew.  When I look back over 10 years, I quickly realized how agriculture has changed and developed. No longer can we plan for just the next few years. Instead, we have to look at all the options and possibilities that are available and make sure that all decisions are made knowing that anything might happen.  Lots of farmers now run their farms as a true business with far more time spent looking at all details than their predecessors did. As a result, some of the old sayings like “a penny saved is a penny earned” don’t always hold water anymore. Times have changed.

Our disagreement arose from the fact that we weren’t able to look at an issue and stand back and focus on the whole picture and envision the farm in years to come. We needed to try to envision the different roads the farm may have to take along the way. Over this time,  we have been tossed a couple curve balls that even the most detailed business plan wouldn’t been able to incorporate.  Over time, we’ve learned from the schools of soft and hard knocks. And, I’m sure there have been times when dad wished he’d listened to me which makes us both feel guilty.

He told me a few years ago that once I hit 40, things would differently. I’m not sure if it was from the injuries I’m dealing with or my age but he was right. As every decade flows by, the world seems to change and my outlook changes more. The scariest part is that I see my father in me more all the time –  both the good and the bad!
The bottom line is that there’ll always be disagreements with our business partners. But, at the end of the day I still want and need my family and am blessed to have them for advice(wanted or not).  Dad has had 10 years of borrowed time after a health scare of his own. I hope he has many more because I want to be able to tell him “I told you so” a few more times, and (under my breath) perhaps admit he was right once or twice more as well.

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