Home Sweet Home

Recently at a seminar I was asked a very common question: My 18-year-old son or daughter wants to come back to the farm or ranch. What should I tell them?

The first question out of the chute is: Has your child been employed or lived away from home? This experience provides a sense of independence and can build confidence. Too often I observe young people going back to the family business straight out of high school. However, five to 10 years later when they find a significant other, their value system becomes tested and a family flare-up occurs. Those who stay single sometimes become a hired person for life. This is because they have never had a formal job description and have only been accountable to Mom, Dad or a family member.

Some critical questions that need to be answered in ascertaining whether to allow the child to come home:

· Do they have the skills and knowledge that is needed in the business, or are they a “chip off the old block”? Skills that complement current employees rather than provide a “carbon copy” may help the business to be successful.
· What are Mom and Dad’s plans, goals and objectives?
· Is the farm or ranch business economically viable?
· Do you have a job description for the child?
· Are there other siblings? What is their future in the business?

Management Tip of the Week:
Kick the kids out of the nest and allow them to work for others and make mistakes on someone else’s time and money. This valuable experience will pay off in the long run.

Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, The Corn And Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at sullylab@vt.edu.