Multi-generational farms offer various management styles

Multi-generational farming. For most farmers managing the family farm alongside grandparents, parents or children is a welcome opportunity – keeping that family history alive for future generations.

According to the U.S. EPA, there are about 2 million family farms in the U.S and while statistics indicate that the farm population is aging, there is an emergence of young people interested in farming again.

This swell of younger generational farming is great, but it can also cause a few challenges when working together with an older generation of farmers. For instance, what happens when one generation believes the other generation “just doesn’t get it” or that, “they have it so much easier than we did?”

An article in Farm and Dairy discusses this topic by breaking down the characteristics of the four generations currently in the workplace and notes that probably no other business realizes the challenge of generations working together more than farming.
  • Veterans (1922-1945) are hard workers, view work as an obligation and are usually more interested in working individually.
  • Baby boomers (1946-1964) view work as an adventure, are typically workaholics and would rather work together.
  • Generation X (1965-1980) is self-reliant, looks for structure and direction, tends to be entrepreneurial and views work as a challenge.
  • Millennials (1981-2000) value entrepreneurial opportunities, are very goal oriented, and want to participate in decisions and feel like they are a part of the farm.
The good thing to note is that there is a need for each of these generations on the farm. In fact, there’s quite a bit that they can learn from each other. Each generation of farmers has had significant events, individual influences and technological developments that have helped to shape who they are and what they value.

While understanding these generational differences may seem pretty trivial, they are often easily forgotten. It takes just a little understanding and patience to learn from one another. In the long-run it will be well-worth it to accept these differences for the benefit of maintaining a successful working farm.

Do you operate or work on a multi-generational farm? What do you think of multiple generations of farmers working together? Do you think they can learn from each other?

Photo obtained from:

No comments: