Proceedings

NPR – Farm Family Business Consultant Peer Group – A Review

It was not long ago when farmers were expected to be able to ‘do everything’ on their farm. A farmer’s broad skill set and abilities were directly connected to their strong sense of independence. Today, things are changing and while the foundation of multiple management skills sets still exists, it is far less common. There is a truism in business that applies to farming; a business typically outgrows its management. With farms becoming increasingly larger and more complex, the prevailing wisdom is that business-focused farmers cannot be all things to all aspects of managing their business.
There is no one correct approach for filling the different resources required to augment afarmer’s management skills. Some resources may already be in place, while others may not be being used effectively. The relationships with resources typically vary from casual, one-off interactions to regular and periodic. Management consultants or advisors can help with identifying and selecting appropriate resources. But there are inherent challenges that the management consultants themselves must address.
Businesses are challenged to find consultants who have the multiple skill sets and experience to meet their specific needs. A multi-disciplinary approach is often the consultative model that best serves the family business.
Farm businesses are often located in rural areas and business focus can be regional due to weather and soil types. The owners are generally the managers, and government subsidies and estate tax laws have helped to create the need for complex business structures. These dynamics result in a unique set of challenges in selling, pricing, collaborating and delivering family business consulting services.
Farm families must have the confidence that the professional resources they are utilizing are providing them with unbiased information, the expertise required to meet their specific needs and complete transparency.

Keywords: family, farm, management, peers, consultants, advisors

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Author(s): Betker, T.

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Organizations(s): FamilyBusiness.ag, Manitoba