Farming into the Next Generation
2014 Offering Cancelled| Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Registration Information

Cancelled for 2014
Location: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

2013 Program Materials

Program Overview

Today, you’re successfully farming together as a family, and you want those successes to continue as the farm business transitions to the next generation. Organizing and executing a shift in management responsibilities involves building even stronger relationships within the family and with key non-family employees, encouraging new leaders to step forward, resolving lingering conflicts and making plans that excite your farm team. By attending this workshop, you will gain the confidence and expertise needed to guide the succession-planning process and create an even stronger business for the future. 

Key Benefits

At this program, you will:

  • Explore the crucial issues that families need to address for future business success
  • Discuss the strengths and challenges of your family and business relationships
  • Recognize the importance of self-understanding in the transition process
  • Identify the family dynamics and structure needed to create an effective business succession plan
  • Gain a new perspective on conflict and the importance of improving your conflict-resolution skills
  • Learn the value of engagement, empowerment and delegation
  • Improve your communication skills, which contribute to building stronger relationships and help you move toward agreement on important decisions
  • Leave with the beginning of a family team charter that will help you overcome the challenges ahead

Program Content

This two-day workshop emphasizes family relationships, communication, the role of key non-family employees and building a strong management team for the future. The faculty instructors will deliver the program in four essential parts. This workshop will not address estate planning, asset transfer and tax management.

The Family Business

  • Characteristics of family businesses
  • Causes of common planning, leading and relationship issues
  • Leadership styles and guidelines for family leaders
  • Tips for building a strong management team

Relationship Challenges in Family Businesses

  • Family versus business cultures
  • Lack of a designated human resource manager
  • Conflict over roles, seniority, gender and influence of birth order
  • Job descriptions, training, retraining and continuous improvement
  • Conflict resolution, discipline and discharge
  • Defined career paths for family and non-family employees
  • Interpersonal communication, group communication and family business meetings

Farm Family Case Studies

  • See how the lessons apply to a case study
  • Develop suggestions for overcoming succession problems
  • Explore more than 20 succession-planning principles and guidelines

Summary and Take-Home Messages

  • Identify most valuable points from the workshop
  • Participate in final discussion around
    • Leadership
    • Interpersonal and team relationships
    • Communication and conflict resolution
    • Building on strengths and continuing professional development
    • Willingness to make hard choices
    • Letting go

Who Should Attend

Every family that is working on succession planning while continuing to farm together will find this program helpful. It is even more impactful when at least two generations from the same family attend the workshop together. Farm business leaders interested in improving their communication skills, as well as their management of family employees, will also find this workshop valuable.

Program Instructors

Bernie Erven

For more than 40 years, Bernie Erven has worked on family business management issues such as hiring, training, motivation, discipline, compensation and performance feedback. He is professor emeritus of agricultural economics at Ohio State University. Bernie’s consulting work with small businesses through Erven HR Services LLC concentrates on family business relations and human resource management. He is a two-time recipient of the Ohio State University Award for Distinguished Teaching. His other recognitions include the American Agricultural Economics Association Teaching Award and a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Excellence in Teaching Award.


Bob Milligan

Bob Milligan is a senior consultant with Dairy Strategies LLC and professor emeritus at Cornell University, where he was associate chair of the Department of Applied Economics and Management. Bob focuses on the management of farms and small businesses, with an emphasis on human resource management and leadership development. He is a recipient of the New York Farmer Medallion, in addition to honors from the National Association of College and Teachers of Agriculture and Cornell University. Bob lives in St. Paul, Minn.