Last month, I saw a photo come across my Twitter feed that made me smile from ear to ear. Of all the exciting and inspiring career choices, Azlyn Kiefer of Moores Prairie, Ill., decided to be a farmer for occupation day at school. Her dad, Kyle, shared this photo of her looking sharp (and well read).
For occupation day, Azlyn Kiefer chose to be a farmer.
Fresh from the Top Producer Summit, which brought together hundreds of farmers of all ages and demographics, I couldn’t be more excited about the future of our industry. Farming provides endless interesting and fulfilling opportunities.
A Family Affair. A big challenge for farmers today is recruiting the next generation for farm ownership and management. How can you create a family business that attracts your sons and daughters? Will the bright city lights and six-figure salaries pull children away from the farm?
“The survival of a family farm depends just as much on human relation skills that the family has cultivated over the generations as their successful and proven farming practices,” says Val Farmer, a clinical psychologist and author who has specialized in rural mental health and family relationships.
Yes, children leave the farm to pursue passions and opportunities not available in rural life. But, Farmer says, kids return for clear reasons.
“They come back because of their good childhood memories, and they want to raise their children in similar circumstances,” he says. “They come back to family businesses that are dynamic and viable.”
Happy and successful family businesses rarely happen by accident, says Mitzi Perdue, a family business expert who spoke at Executive Women in Agriculture.
Families need a strong culture that supports a stable business. “Teach the younger generation to cherish their heritage and embrace their role leading the business forward,” she explains.
Also, share your family stories. “We are the stories we tell ourselves, and high-functioning families have heard their stories over and over again,” she says. “Be intentional about telling these stories.”
When family businesses are harmonious and firing on all cylinders, they are nearly unstoppable. As you finalize your crop plans and budgets, also pencil in a little time to focus on the family. Time dedicated to your family will pay dividends. The next generation is watching—make sure you are inspiring them.